A beginner’s guide to evaluating cloud providers in 30 minutes or less

Every technology trend comes with its share of professionals…and greenhorns. Cloud computing is the most recent example, and some small business owners struggle to distinguish between providers that know what they’re doing and those who are taking advantage of the spike in demand.

A face-to-face meeting and a network assessment are the best ways to evaluate a cloud provider’s merits. But before getting that far in the vetting process, take 30 minutes to check out its website and look for these key indicators.

IT experience and certifications

A company full of fresh graduates with computer science degrees may have the book smarts to set up your cloud solution, but they lack real-world experience. You need IT support from technicians who have spent years troubleshooting problems and fending off cyberattacks.

Look for a managed IT services provider (MSP) that opened for business before cloud services even existed. As long as its employees maintain recent and reputable vendor certifications, you’ll know that team has enough experience to prevent rookie mistakes from affecting your IT solutions.

No long-term contract

Letting clients pay for cloud solutions on a month-to-month basis rather than locking them into a yearlong commitment says a lot about how confident a provider is about the quality of its services. Contract terms are rarely outlined outside a sales meeting, but a handful of providers advertise this guarantee in their marketing materials.

Customized solutions

A lot of cloud providers slap their logo on prepackaged hardware or software and call them “made-to-order.” That approach will create countless problems as your business and its needs grow, so you need to narrow your search to MSPs that are honest about customizing their solutions.

You can find evidence of tailor-made cloud services on a provider’s website, in its social media posts, or detailed in its whitepapers. Don’t forget, cloud solutions can take many forms and you may find what you’re searching for in descriptions of a related services such as virtualization, hosted servers, Microsoft Office 365 or VoIP phones.

Industry-specific support

You’ll evaluate countless cloud providers that brag about helping healthcare companies achieve regulatory compliance. That’s a good sign of cybersecurity capabilities. Your shortlist should have at least a couple MSPs that mention experience in your industry.

From the computer-aided design software of construction companies to the cloud-based document management solutions of real estate agencies, your IT will perform at its peak when managed by industry specialists.

Layered cybersecurity

The best example of subpar tech support is lazy security policies. If a cloud provider doesn’t give you details on how it plans to keep you safe, cross it off the list. The most important things to look for include: 24/7 monitoring, data encryption, multi-factor authentication processes, and regular software updates. Any MSP that protects its datacenters with several layers of security solutions should be a worthy recipient of your business.

Backups and disaster recovery

Small-time IT providers often have limited hardware resources, choosing to stick with on-site servers until their client list grows. This is extremely dangerous because even a minor power outage could leave its clients without access to their information.

You should work only with providers that store your data in multiple locations. Even then, you should be wary of backups that are stored in the same city since a hurricane or other disaster could wipe both out. Keep an eye out for phrases like “global redundancy” and “no single point of failure” to ensure the highest levels of service reliability.

On-site support

Because cloud solutions allow you to access everything from data storage to computing power remotely, most of our problems can be fixed without an on-site visit. Occasionally, you’ll still need a technician to visit your office to deal with an issue.

For example, if you want to add or remove users to your cloud-based email solution a quick message to your provider would be all it takes. But for complex issues like an SMTP port misconfiguration or an encryption certificate installation, you shouldn’t have to sit on the phone while a technician walks you through the process.

Small businesses all over Charlotte are saving money and simplifying IT management with cloud services. Spectrumwise has spent the last 17 years providing safe and affordable technology solutions. Call us today to learn about how we can simplify your business technology.


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