9 Questions to Ask Your Cloud Provider

9 questions to ask your cloud provider

Moving data to a cloud can be a benefit of both time and money. A properly working cloud is efficient, improves productivity, unburdens staff and can accommodate data backup. The only downside of moving data to the cloud is making sure you pick the right cloud provider. Choosing a provider can be difficult, so here are nine basic questions you should ask to make your search easier.

1. How Much Control Do I Have Over My Data?

Expect full control of your data from creation to midlife to end. You should have the ability to automatically and permanently delete shared files from user devices. You should also be able to wipe any user’s account in case a device is lost or stolen. Having control over your data removes the need for a middleman to do the job for you.

2. Are You a Reseller of Cloud Services?

The provider needs to own the equipment your data is on. If the servers belong to someone else, you may not have clarity on who is responsible for service and support.

3. How Do You Encrypt Data?

Your data deserves more than password protection or encryption only in transit. All data should be encrypted in transit, at rest and on mobile devices. If all of the content is not encrypted, then this is a failure of regulatory compliance and data breach laws.

All data should have the highest levels of encryption. The highest levels are 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard or AES SSL for transit and 256 bit AES for data at rest. AES is available to the public which leaves no excuse for an encryption level that may be lower.

4. What Certifications for Data Protection Do You Have?

The provider should have successfully completed a SOC 1 audit under SSAE 16 guidelines. Also ask if the provider is FISMA certified, which shows their commitment to data security. Ask if the provider is in compliance with Department of Defense 5220.22 M or NIST 800 88 to ensure your data will always be available and can be reliably destroyed.

5. What Level of Data Replication Do You Provide?

All files should at least be stored in triplicate, meaning there are servers always running at three different places. Also, make sure the provider has 99.999 percent or five nines availability. This makes your data harder to hack into and ensures you will always have access.

6. Do You Have Insurance In Case of Data Loss?

Accidents happen regardless of how much security a provider offers. Make sure the provider has insurance in case your data is destroyed or unavailable.

7. What Is Your Downtime History?

Access to your data should be quick and easy. If your data cannot be accessed, your business could be put at risk. Availability is an important issue to discuss, so guaranteed access at all times is crucial. However, servers do sometimes need maintenance to make sure they can always run at top performance for you. Make sure scheduled downtime often occurs during off hours such as overnights or weekends.

8. What Level of Support Do You Provide?

A problem may still arise even if the provider is perfect. Make sure they offer phone or email assistance at all times, including overnights and weekends. Be wary of tiered support systems that only resolve entry level concerns or give you an automated script.

9. How Is My Account Activity Monitored?

The service should provide an audit of all changes in an account. The audit will tell you everything going on with your data.

Find the Cloud Provider Perfect for Your Business

Getting a cloud provider for your business will help in many ways, but looking for the right one may take time. Use these basic questions to do more research into providers before coming to a final decision. Be sure to verify the answers you’re given and ask follow up questions along the way. Patience is key to finding the perfect provider for your business.

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Nathan P. Sykes

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