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Cloud Computing Factors

10 Factors to Consider Before You Put Your Business in a Cloud


You can choose from a wide range of service providers with varying pricing, depending on the complexity of your business needs and the amount of capacity you require. Here are 10 factors to consider before you make the move.

  1. Security (data)
    Will your data be safe (refer to best practices in cloud computing: http://www.cloudsecurityalliance.org/)? How do you know? What assurances can be made by your vendor to make you feel comfortable with your decision? Get it in writing before you elect to use a particular cloud application service provider because, in effect, you are giving up some control of your intellectual property, and once that occurs, you want to be in secure hands.
  2. Support
    What if you're in the cloud and you lose data? And it's the morning for you and the middle of the night for your vendor? How do you get in touch with someone (email, instant chat or telephone call) to help you resolve a problem? How fast will they respond? Nothing is worse than even a nano-second of downtime, so before you jump into a cloud, fully understand the process for getting back up and running.
  3. User-friendly environment
    If it takes you more than a minute to sign on, your future actions with the cloud could be complicated, and nobody likes complications! Look for a cloud station where you can move about intuitively, quickly and with immediate signs of progress. Whatever you experience in the first five minutes generally gives you a very good indication of what the rest of your activity will be like.
  4. Ad-free (without paying a premium price for that feature)
    Some folks don't mind ads, other do. I am one who hates ads, and nothing is worse than signing up for something at a certain fee, thinking you won't have to deal with ads, only to find out later they are everywhere. To get rid of them, you must pay a higher price! Watch out for this tactic. Ask before you sign up. Get the facts on how the vendor makes money.
  5. Scalability (How much? How far?)
    Remember, everything has a limit. A cloud application can appear to be scalable – pay as you go and based on demand – but even clouds have ceilings. You are bound to run into some capacity limitations at some point. Ask what the limits might be (people, software, storage, for example). How will you know when you are approaching a limit (e.g., will there be a notification of some sort or a symptom like slow speed) and how much will the incremental added capacity cost?
  6. Business continuity (for the crisis waiting to happen)
    If your entire cloud computing system goes down, what's your backup plan? What's your vendor's backup plan? Who's the first point of contact to correct the situation? Is there a process to follow to ensure your employees, vendors, colleagues and fans can all still access you and your company data?
  7. Reliability
    What's your vendor's margin of error? How often do they experience power outages, over-capacity bugs and – worse case scenario – hijacking of content? How long have they been in business? Do they appear to be a firm that will still be around in 30 years?
  8. Availability
    Just as you want access to your website 24/7, your cloud should be available round-the-clock, too. Have you verified that? Will it be available and accessible in real-time? Speaking of websites, have you asked your host if they provide cloud computing? You should. More than likely, they do!
  9. Trust
    Can you trust your vendor's service with files including personal information? Will your files be any less safe than files stored locally on a hard drive?
  10. References
    Before you make a commitment, ask your vendor to submit three customer references. Run down this list and check off each point that the references respond to positively. If you get positive reinforcement on each and every point, you know you are on the right track with your cloud.

About the Author: Global business expert Laurel Delaney is the founder of GlobeTrade.com (a Global TradeSource, Ltd. company). She also is the creator of “Borderbuster,” an e-newsletter, and The Global Small Business Blog, all highly regarded for their global small business coverage. You can reach Delaney at ldelaney@globetrade.com or follow her on Twitter @LaurelDelaney.

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