Cloud, Collaboration

How to choose the best cloud platform for your business?

Chaz Hager May 06 2022

Moving your business operations to the cloud is beneficial only if you select the right cloud service provider. And as you can imagine, filtering out the best cloud platform for a small business is not easy. From big-name players like Microsoft, Amazon, and Google to smaller cloud services for business, there are several cloud providers to choose from.

To filter out the commercial cloud platforms that suit your business, you should have a clear evaluation process to test the cloud services against your business requirements. Factors like cost, feature list, performance, security standards, presence of vendor lock-ins, etc., will help you narrow down to the best cloud platforms for business. 

Let’s break down this list.

10 questions to ask when selecting cloud platforms for your business


1. Which certifications does the cloud provider hold?

You should research recognized industry standards in the cloud space and filter out service providers based on whether or not they adhere to those standards. You can check for standards like ISO 27001, Cyber Essentials Scheme, and CSCC, to name a few.

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2. Is the cloud provider suited for long-term business collaboration?

The cloud service provider you choose should be a good fit for the long term. That means when you pick a cloud provider, check for legal challenges if any, planned corporate changes, and its business roadmap before entering into a partnership with them.  

You should also prioritize commercial cloud platforms that have a healthy balance sheet indicative of its growth (whenever you can make educated guesses about this, of course). Make sure your cloud provider has a good customer base and competent leadership. Check the company's LinkedIn profile to get an overview of the business.

3. What are the services and tools I will subscribe to?

Cloud services for businesses should have features that help you efficiently achieve your business goals. Apart from the existing services, ask for their service roadmap. It will tell you how your cloud provider plans to add more services in the future so that it is aligned with your long-term needs.

Most importantly, make sure the cloud providers' services are compatible with your organizations' workloads. Ask how much re-coding or customization is required to make the cloud services fit your business operations. The cloud services you choose must show high-speed performance and easy scalability. 

4. How much will the cloud service cost?

The next thing you should check is the cost of the cloud services you will be opting for. Typically, cloud platforms for business have an affordable pay-as-you-go pricing. 

Compare the price of your cloud service provider against others in the market and decide whether or not it justifies its offerings. If reserving computing capacity for a longer duration suits your business, you should ask for reserved instances as it will get you huge discounts on the standard pricing.

5. What is the security architecture of the cloud provider?

The best cloud platform for small businesses is the one with risk-based security policies and robust security governance processes. Assess each level of your cloud provider's security architecture. Check their security audit reports and incident reports detailing their actions in the event of an attack or failure. 

Your cloud provider should comply with security standards like ISO 27000 or have other recognized security certifications. They should also have a clear disaster recovery plan to revive the operations in case of an unplanned event. 

6. What are others saying about the cloud service provider?

Testimonials will give you a clear idea of whether or not the services are delivered as promised and how prompt is the customer support. Go to your cloud service providers' website and browse through customer reviews. Also, visit their social media handles or read online reviews to get a clear sense of their customer relationship.

7.  What are the service level agreements (SLAs)?

Cloud SLAs are filled with jargon and often complicated. There will be general terms and conditions you have to agree online or you could even negotiate a custom contract and SLA for your business.

Before signing a contract get a clear understanding of the services, deliverables, data policies, business terms, and legal protections. An ideal SLA consists of service level objectives, remediation policies as well penalties/incentives tied to the listed objectives, and exclusions. 

8. How and where will my data be stored, processed, and managed?

Data management is among the most important factors when selecting cloud platforms. Businesses classify data based on their sensitivity and policies on data residency. As a result, check the location of the cloud provider's data centers and the local laws governing the data policy.

9. What does the performance report say?

You should ask your cloud provider for their performance report for the last 6-12 months. Check their performance against their SLAs to examine how reliable they are. 

Cloud platforms for business will have downtimes. How they deal with the downtime, how quickly the services were restored, and how they communicated the disruptions with their customers, determine their commitment.

10. Are there any vendor lock-ins?

Lock-ins refer to the use of proprietary technologies that make it difficult for you to transition to other commercial cloud platforms. You should avoid cloud services that heavily rely on proprietary technologies. Select providers that have a clear exit strategy and provide services that have competitive alternatives in the market.

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