Checklist : How do I choose Cloud Service Provider?

Checklist : How do I choose Cloud Service Provider?

Cloud computing growth has been tremendous in the last few years. So the number of cloud computing service providers aka CSP. The current trend is to move to cloud services either for day-to-day software services (SaaS) or infrastructure (IaaS).

If you have made a decision to move to a cloud environment, it is important to select vendors who not only have capacity but also have a good reputation. After all, you will be trusting your CSP (Cloud Service Provider) with your data. Data can be sensitive so are your infrastructure and applications in the cloud.

Learn more about Cloud migration tool properties

Here we discuss a checklist when choosing a cloud service provider.

The business reputation of CSP

Business reputation of CSP

The first step in understanding is to know the existing business reputation of CSP. It is also important to consider his financial profile. This builds confidence in CSP that he will sustain any downtrend or inevitable disaster.

It is also important to know the experience of CSP in providing cloud services. It is especially important because the cloud is about elasticity and scalability.  You can check if CSP has handled enough load to serve scalability requirements similar to yours.

Does CSP understand deeply about underlying technologies in the cloud environment? It is best to choose a CSP who has a good number of partners on board or has in-house expertise in cloud technologies. This will also help in availing help while migrating your infrastructure to the cloud environment.

Another important point to consider is vendor lock-in. Most of the time if we integrate cloud services very specific to one vendor, it becomes very difficult to move out or to shift to a different cloud vendor. It is crucial to note that should the contract terminates then how the cloud vendor will help to move data from his cloud environment to another cloud environment or to your data center.

Try to find out any customer references from the same industry as yours while moving to CSP. Identify the hustles they faced either while moving in or out of the cloud environment. This will clearly give you a situation roadmap.
Read more on cloud computing,

Support from CSP:

Support from CSP

Clearly identify the historical record of CSP meeting Service Level Agreements (SLAs).

It is equally important to note the promised SLA and any compensation in case CSP fails to meet those promised SLAs.

Does CSP has detailed cloud resource monitoring and tracking mechanisms? This is inevitable when it comes to billing with your CSP.

Technical know-how

Technical know-how of CSP

Try to understand how it would be easy to migrate the existing environment to CSP.  Another perspective is to identify steps to deploy your technology stack in the cloud environment. How it is easy to deploy your technology stack with your CSP. And do not forget upgrade scenarios. How CSP is going to help in handling upgrades?

We touched upon SLAs. It is important to understand the underlying infrastructure is highly available and resilient to failures. Also, what is the max bandwidth that you can consume, and what is available with your CSP?

If you are looking at a multi-cloud strategy then it is important to have public (authenticated and secured) APIs from your CSP. This will help integrate your in-house tools with the cloud environment. It will also help you to easily buy software services from different service providers to implement your multi-cloud strategy. The multi-cloud strategy is key to avoid cloud vendor lock-in.

How to avoid cloud vendor lock-in with multi-cloud strategy. Know more.
Though not always required, for compliance reasons, you may want to know about your CSP's change management reports. Check with your CSP about their internal processes to handle change management.

Business continuity is the critical element to consider for any organization. Your CSP must help you and yourself to handle disaster situations. CSP should able to maintain SLAs even when disaster strikes. CSP should recover services with minimum RPO and RTO as per agreed-upon SLAs. Understand how CSP is providing resiliency in terms of data-center power, network, and overall business continuity plan.


Security of cloud service provider

How secure are the data centers? This is the question you should ask your CSP.

When considering a cloud environment, it is important to know and understand that you will be sharing infrastructure with hundreds of other users. So obvious question to ask about how data is secured in such a multi-tenant environment. Hence it is critical to list down in detail the steps your CSP is taking to avoid potentials threats from inside the cloud environment as well as from outside. DDOS (Distributed Denial of Service Attack) is a common example. Another issue to deal with it is the security of data at rest and in motion. Which employees from CSPs have access to client's data and how to track any violations?  What is the CSP's privacy policy?  Identify in-place controls to deal with such situations.

There are regulations and standards that every organization has to follow. These regulations are generally to protect themselves, their employees, their personal, private, and other sensitive data. So it is important that your CSP is compliant with these regulations. e.g. companies with health industries must comply to HIPPA security rules. The rules of data ownership must be clearly defined and documented.

Demystifying Top Cloud Security concerns. Know More.

It is also important to know where user data will be stored. Some countries do not allow companies to store their citizen data outside their countries.

Identity and access management policies should be understood in detail, both physical or virtual (remote) access to the cloud environment.

And finally, identify CSP policies in place to backup your data. It is important to understand how one can quickly access backup data and restore the same.

Would you like to add or suggest any bullet points in choosing your cloud service provider? Do let us know in the comments below.

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Mandar Pise Opinions expressed by techsutram contributors are their own. More details

Mandar is a seasoned software professional for more than a decade. He is Cloud, AI, IoT, Blockchain and Fintech enthusiast. He writes to benefit others from his experiences. His overall goal is to help people learn about the Cloud, AI, IoT, Blockchain and Fintech and the effects they will have economically and socially in the future.

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