4 Questions to Ask Before Signing With a Cloud Storage Provider

In 2014, for the first time ever, more work was done in the cloud than in traditional IT spaces, according to networking giant Cisco. The margin was slim—51 percent of workloads processed in the cloud vs. 49 percent carried out the “old-fashioned,” on-premise way—but that, too, is changing. The asset management firm Piper Jaffray estimates that over the next five years, cloud computing will grow by an average of 44 percent a year, while on-premise computing workloads will only grow by about 9 percent a year.

If you’re a business owner looking to move your IT operations to the cloud, that’s probably a good decision. In a survey by the Boston-based IT consulting firm NSK Inc., 82 percent of IT decision-makers said they saved money by moving to the cloud, and 80 percent saw improvements within six months of making the move.

Now that you’re convinced, what’s next? Cloud computing is still relatively new, and not every service provider is on the up-and-up. Before you sign with any one company, get answers to these four important questions:

How Secure Is the System?

Find out how the company will protect your data. Some questions to ask include:

  • What level of encryption do they provide?
  • What security measures do they use to authenticate users?
  • What type of security protocol is followed at the data center?
  • Who will have access to your data, and how well were those people vetted before they were given access?
  • Does the company have a good track record when it comes to security?

Also, make sure the company is compliant with your industry’s privacy and security needs (for example, HIPAA regulations in health care) and with the new regulation known as SSAE 16. Short for Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements, SSAE 16 is a critical audit standard that is especially important for companies with financial data and companies in public sectors. For more about compliance with SSAE 16, visit TechTarget.com.

What Do You Get for the Money?

Every service provider has different pricing structures, so ask what is covered with the monthly service and what is extra. Some will let you store unlimited amounts of data at a fixed price while others have a data limit. Make sure you have room to grow, too. For a comprehensive look at cloud storage prices, visit ZDNet.com.

How Does Data Back up and Recovery Work?

Backing up your data is usually the easy part. However, you need to ask how often your data is backed up and how easy it is to recover or restore your data in the event of data loss. Make sure you understand what the restoration process looks like and what kind of support you can expect. Many services make backing up easy, but restoring data can be difficult and cost extra, so do your due diligence before investing. For more common questions (and answers) about backup and recovery, visit Top10CloudStorage.com.

What Are Their Customers Saying?

Look for additional information about the company such as how long it has been in business, what online reviewers say and if its customers are happy. Take these reviews to heart; if there is a preponderance of unhappy users, keep looking. PCMag.com is a good place to start when looking for reviews.

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