Investigating a move to the Cloud? Knowing which questions to ask or features to compare is a critical place to start.
While all Cloud technology attempts to deliver the same outcome – (work from anywhere, anytime, on any device), products and services vary greatly.
What are the hidden traps, security issues and valuable features you need to look out for? We’ve detailed the top 7:
- Where is it hosted?
As more technology companies start to offer cloud services, the quickest way to market is to re-sell Cloud platforms that are based overseas. It is important to find a company that is using an Australian hosted solution, which ideally is owned and operated by the firm selling the service. It is also important for a secondary data centre to be offered and this should be located in another state to protect your files in the event of a disaster.
- What types of software licenses are included and how many?
As the cloud market becomes more competitive with more technology companies offering cloud solutions, the easiest way to drive down the face value of the cost is to offer no software licences. This would be like offering a car without an engine and making the buyer pay additional fees for that engine.
Without the correct licencing your staff won’t be able to access the severs and typically it would then be up to you to figure out what licences are required and pay the additional costs for the licences. A good place to start is to ask about E-Mail, Microsoft Office and Anti-Virus/Anti-SPAM.
- What IT support is included?
Firstly, ensure that IT support is included– as this may not always be the case. It's also important to understand what software your chosen provider will support and what it won't.
Secondly, look for a provider that offers 24x7x365 IT support to ensure you aren’t left stranded outside of business hours. In addition to being unproductive, IT delays can dearly cost your organisation. Consider the billable hourly rate for your staff and any time spent ‘on the bench’ can amount to significant lost revenue for your business.
Lastly, check where their helpdesk is located. Ensure they offer Australian based support as opposed to a cheaper offshore alternative.
- How secure it is?
Security is often an organisation’s biggest barrier to Cloud adoption. Assessing the security of a Cloud hosted solution can be a complex and confusing process unless you know what to ask:
- Who actually owns the service being provided? As above most technology companies re-sell cloud services, so what happens if they do not fulfil their obligations to the firms they purchase the service to re-sell
- How long have the offered the cloud service? In addition to providing some insights into the maturity of their platform, this can help you determine whether the Cloud provider has proven themselves in the marketplace.
- Where are their data centres? (Data centres are where your Cloud based servers will be housed). Ensure their data centres are located in Australia and that these are secure. A good Cloud provider will have robust security measures in place at their data centres, making them by comparison much harder to access than your own on-site hosted servers.
- Who are their clients? Would those clients require a similar or greater level of security to you? Would they be willing to arrange opportunities for you to speak with their existing clients?
- How fast is it?
Try before you buy. Request a demonstration of the product to ensure the speed is adequate. Test it on all the devices your staff will be likely to use (for example, PC’s, laptops, iPad/tablet and phone). This is also the best way to ensure you are happy with the speed of the platform.
- Unplanned Downtime
Check how much unplanned downtime the provider has had in the past 12 months. Their downtime will become your downtime as an unreliable service will impact your staff’s ability to work, reducing their billable hours. A small amount is to be expected however this should not amount to more than a few hours annually.
- Advice and knowledge sharing
If knowledge and understanding of IT developments, updates, new technology, new opportunities etc. is important for your business, look for a provider who is a leader in this space. A good provider will add value by working in partnership with you, ensuring you stay ahead of the curve.