Many important decisions are involved when an organization chooses to migrate some or all of its IT environment to the cloud. The company needs to evaluate its current infrastructure and select the components it wants to move. It can be challenging to decide what goes first and whether certain applications or data resources should remain in an on-premises data center.

An equally important decision is involved in selecting the right cloud service provider (CSP) to address your business requirements and objectives. The right CSP can help maximize the benefits a company gets from cloud migration. Going with the wrong provider can spell disaster and result in an ineffective migration that does not provide the expected advantages of cloud computing.

Tips for Choosing the Right Cloud Service Provider

Choosing the right cloud provider needs to be done with extensive research and planning. Simply choosing a CSP based on its reputation or market share may not provide a company with the resources it needs to meet its business objectives. The following tips should be considered by organizations as they determine the best CSP or CSPs for their computing environment.

Look for services that address your business requirements

Before beginning the search for a provider, an organization should have well-defined business requirements or objectives they hope to address with cloud computing. Companies should not be migrating to the cloud simply because it is a popular thing to do. Similarly, they should also not choose a provider just because of their popularity.

The wide variety of offerings and services available from cloud providers enables companies to choose solutions that directly meet their needs. For example, an organization heavily invested in Microsoft products may find that the compatibility offered by Microsoft Azure best addresses their requirements. In other cases, Azure may not be the best fit for customers with an extensive Linux environment.

CSPs attempt to differentiate themselves from the competition with innovative offerings that may effectively meet a customer’s business objectives. It pays to take the time to identify CSPs with the services a company needs rather than trying to meet business objectives with less appropriate offerings.

Evaluate the cost benefits of various CSPs

Cost savings is one of the reasons many companies initiate cloud migration. Eliminating the capital expenditures associated with hardware purchases often leads to immediate cost benefits. Achieving long-term savings may take some investigation of the providers’ competing offerings. For example, small differences in per GB storage costs can add up to a substantial amount of money over the length of a contract.

Once again, performing this evaluation is facilitated by having a plan for the migration and specific objectives in mind. It’s much easier to engage in an effective cost analysis if a company has specific goals they are trying to achieve. Items to consider when comparing costs include the availability of volume discounts, reserved instances, and any minimums that are incorporated into the pricing model.

Customers should also be aware that cloud providers may offer better pricing to new customers that increases after the initial contract. It is important to pay attention to the fine print that discusses pricing going forward to avoid overpaying over time.

Security and data protection

It’s vitally important to provide effective security for data, systems, and applications in the cloud. Major cloud providers typically employ industry-leading cybersecurity techniques and have skilled technical personnel available to implement security solutions. Customers should look for CSPs that offer security solutions tailored to their business objectives.

Organizations need to understand the shared responsibility matrix implemented by the selected CSP. In most cases, the CSP is responsible for the security of the cloud with the customer being responsible for the security of the data they store in the cloud. Failure to understand the details of shared security can result in vulnerabilities that can easily be exploited by cybercriminals.

Many customers engage a CSP to implement a cloud backup strategy to protect valuable data resources. Additional resiliency can be achieved by backing up data and implementing disaster recovery plans that involve multiple geographic regions. Companies looking for enhanced resiliency should concentrate on CSP with data centers located in geographically diverse areas.

Look for reliability and flexibility

The selected CSP should have a proven track record of providing reliable service and data security. Companies should avoid CPSs that have been associated with data breaches or unexpected outages. Look for providers that will sign service level agreements (SLAs) that guarantee availability and performance levels.

The selected CSP should be flexible enough and have the technical capabilities to address changing business requirements. The CSP must be able to provide additional storage and computing resources promptly when a customer needs them.

Compliance with regulatory standards

Companies looking to migrate processes or data subject to regulatory standards need to work with CSPs that can guarantee compliance. Whether it’s GDPR, HIPPA, or PCI-DSS, the selected provider needs to be able to demonstrate its ability to furnish an infrastructure that meets all regulatory requirements. This includes signing Business Associate Agreements for HIPAA and any other type of documentation that defines the provider’s role in maintaining compliance.

Don’t limit the selection to a single CSP

While investigating the offerings of competing CSPs, a company may find that multiple providers have services that address different business objectives. It can be a mistake to attempt to meet all requirements with a single CSP. Though there is additional complexity in managing a multi-cloud environment, the benefits may be worth the effort.

Work with a reliable managed services provider (MSP)

Working with a reliable MSP like VAST IT Services can help a company make the right choice of CSP. VAST has formed strategic partnerships with the major cloud providers, giving them an excellent perspective on which one can best address your business objectives and requirements.

Contact VAST and get started with a cloud assessment that evaluates your current infrastructure. It takes a detailed look at the systems and data you plan on moving to the cloud. Based on the assessment’s results, VAST can recommend the provider or providers that make the most sense for your unique business situation.