Never more will we worry about the crashing of a hard drive being the downfall of the very existence of our businesses. All of our hopes and dreams about technological security have been answered. Cloud computing has come to the rescue!
Cloud computing has burst onto the scene, and individuals, businesses, and students alike are using it like it's going out of style. Saving data on what is now known as a "cloud" rather than on your local computer or, in a lot of cases, saving in both locations, is actually very reassuring for users. There are a plethora of sites offering cloud computing worth checking out such as dropbox.com, carbonite.com, sugarsync.com and box.net — not to mention our favorite: backupelf.com.
But before you decide to jump on the cloud bandwagon, here are six important questions you need to ask before committing to cloud computing.
1. What are your security needs?
The reliability of the Cloud's security should be the number one question before you consider any service provider. Cloud security has been under deep scrutiny since it appeared mainstream with justified worries that confidential information could be swiped out of the air. Those argue that at least with the information on your hard drive, there is a sense of security, though it is relatively just the same as floating in a cloud. Picking a service provider's security is along the same lines as picking your ISP, which usually isn't too big of an issue. If your business is one that requires extra levels of security, definitely bring this up while surveying different Cloud providers.
2. Do you really understand how this works?
To be fair, who actually knows how the internet really works! But having a fairly secure understanding about what cloud computing is, how it works, and how it affects your business is really important before you throw all of your eggs (or important files) in this basket.
3. How is the customer service?
Just as with any I.T. company, good customer service is so important. It's pretty safe to say that when there is a technical issue, most of us tend to get frustrated more quickly than we probably should. Make sure that your cloud service provider has friendly and knowledgeable customer service that can be reached at all times. These are the people on the front lines, and they should be people you can depend upon.
4. How does the SLA look?
Though cloud computing is relatively new, service providers aren't and certainly shouldn't be acting like amateurs. Read through the companies Service Level Agreement (SLA) to get a feel for how the company is run. The agreement should be relatively easy to read and understand; too much legalese can be an ugly indicator of something to hide.
5. Is bigger better?
We're talking about the company size here. Take the time to investigate the prospective companies' reputations and real client feedback. Rather than jumping on board with a company because they host some big names, investigate if this company would even have time for you. Sometimes those companies bragging about big name users will play favorites and bump a small business to the bottom of the priority list. Sometimes the small guy is the best answer.
6. Can we test run?
Here's the deal breaker. Most cloud service providers will allow test runs or a trial week or something of the sort. Even if they sound great on paper and over the phone, it never hurts to take their service for a ride to see if you're really ready to commit to this provider, let alone cloud computing.
Asking these questions are very important to making this decision ahead of time, rather than being forced to pick up and move everything to a different cloud entirely!
Matthew Toren is an Award Winning Author, Serial Entrepreneur, and Investor. He Co-Founded YoungEntrepreneur.com along with his brother Adam. Matthew is co-author of the newly released book: Small Business, Big Vision: “Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who Did it Right” and also co-author of Kidpreneurs.