Once you have decided that you want to move part of your IT operations to the Cloud, then the work really starts.
There are a myriad of options available to you for data storage, application hosting, Software as a Service (SaaS) offerings...so what do you need to consider.
When you move any services your business relies on to the Cloud, you still need to ensure that you have appropriate internal management systems in place. While the availability and reliability of the services you are receiving are the responsibility of your provider, you still need to ensure that your provider is meeting their service level committments to you. If they are not meeting these targets and you do nothing about it, then you are, quite simply, throwing money away.
I would urge you to speak to other customers of the providers you are considering, find out what their support service is like...do they respond quickly? Are they easy to deal with? Do their customers feel valued? Get answers on the "soft stuff". Quite honestly, you will probably find that the technical capabilities of the providers you are assessing will be very similar, they all know what they need to physically run the service for you, so the differentiator can very often be in the things that you don't define in a contract.
Think about what is important to you...if you go with a large cloud provider, there is a good chance that your service may be sourced offshore. Are you happy to have your critical, and confidential business data stored in an overseas location? Are you happy dealing with a service desk in India, the Philippines or some other overseas location. I am not saying that these are show stoppers as there are very successful and reliable cloud providers in offshore locations, but you need to consider your own preferences in this area.
Large providers have advantages in multiple redundancies, huge infrastructure and large staff numbers keeping things up and running, but as a small or medium business owner, you may find you have very little ability to escalate issues that are affecting your business. Timezone issues can also have an impact, although technical staff are likely to working around the clock to keep the infrastructure running, account managers are quite often likely to be sleeping during our normal business hours.
There may be an "economy in numbers" scenario that comes in to play with these larger offshore cloud providers, but the old adage does ring true very often....You do get what you pay for!
Local providers of cloud services, like DataSafe, can give you security of knowing that your precious data is safely housed, in at least two locations, in New Zealand. When you call the service desk you will be speaking with someone who is in your timezone and who understands the unique New Zealand dialect...no translation required!
Tomorrow we will look at what you need to have in a Service Level Agreement with your Cloud provider