How to Choose the Right Hosting Provider for Your Data Needs
By now, you've heard about the many advantages of hosting your data and applications in the cloud. To take advantage of these money-saving benefits, you'll want to select the right cloud provider to host and manage your data. Otherwise, you may end up with poor support and disappointing service.
To help you pick the right hosting provider, you first need to familiarize yourself with your options. Here's a walkthrough of what you need to look for.
Choose the Right Model of Cloud Hosting
What does your business model emphasize most when it comes to your data hosting needs? Control? Security? Flexibility? Once you have a good understanding of your priorities, you'll essentially choose from one of three cloud hosting models.
Public Cloud: Public cloud services can be accessed from any publicly-accessible network. These services are typically offered by a third-party vendor. The advantage of using the public cloud is that businesses don't have to take responsibility for the security of their data, but this also makes the public cloud not as secure as the other cloud models.
Private Cloud: Private cloud services are exactly that: a privately hosted cloud platform. A private cloud solution gives businesses more control over the management of their data, boosting data security through access control and other security-enhancing devices and applications. The cost of improved security is more upkeep and maintenance. This maintenance burden, however, can be alleviated by a trusted outsourced IT services provider.
Hybrid Cloud: The hybrid cloud model takes the best features of both the private and public clouds, converging them into one that is more customizable to best suit your data needs. A common example of a hybrid cloud is one which hosts confidential information in-house, while hosting less sensitive data in a public cloud.
Choosing the Right Cloud Service Model
Next, selecting the right cloud service model will allow you to access and deploy your data in the most efficient way possible. One of the most powerful cloud services for small businesses is Infrastructure-as-a-Service. IaaS allows users to access entirely virtualized computing environments through a browser-based portal. IaaS allows users to deploy servers, processing power, storage, and even networking capabilities via a single login.
Other cloud service models include the popular Software-as-a-Service model where functioning applications are hosted in the cloud, and simply deployed to end-users via an Internet connection; and, Platform-as-a-Service, a simplified and highly-scalable cloud platform where application developers can focus on the creation and deployment of their own software.
Once you have a general idea of what cloud model and services are right for your business, you can examine the hosting options available to you. You can further ascertain your options by having a conversation with a cloud hosting provider. You'll want to ask them about the costs associated with the hosting service, the details of the service contract, and what your move to the cloud will require.
What are all of the costs associated with this cloud service?
For budgeting purposes, you'll need to know what your monthly cloud services bill will look like. Therefore, take the time to go over all hosting expenses with the potential provider so you're not hit with any surprise costs. You will also want to consider expenses not directly associated with the cloud provider, such as the cost of upgrading your Internet service if more bandwidth is required to make use of the cloud solutions you wish to deploy.
What are the details of the service contract?
When you shop for a cloud provider, you will find different prices and different levels of service. To navigate these differences, compile a list of your company's data needs and then compare it to the cloud provider's specifications. Variables you should take into consideration include uptime, response time, and benchmark performance. To give you a thorough idea of what your service contract should cover, here are some questions you can ask your would-be representative:
- If damages are caused from interruptions of service, who's liable?
- How do you measure performance, and what performance do you guarantee?
- Do you verify data integrity or accept liability for data loss?
- Where are the cloud servers actually located?
- Is there a lock-in period or cancellation fee?
- What is your data retention period if contracts are terminated, and what assistance can we expect in retrieving the data during this period?
- What kind of notice can we expect when/if you decide to change the terms of your service, whether in your control or not?
- What are the grounds for service termination?
- Who maintains intellectual property rights?
Making the Move to the Cloud
Finally, once you're ready to make the move to the cloud, you'll want to make sure that the transition is as efficient as possible. You can achieve this by asking your hosting provider how much time and how many resources it will take to transition your applications over to the cloud. As a bonus, this article will provide you with a good understanding of what kind of return you should expect on your investment.
Additional questions to look into: “4 Considerations Every Business Should Make Before Moving Operations to the Cloud.”
Remember, when it comes to selecting the right cloud hosting provider, this is one decision that has far-reaching ramifications regarding the future productivity and security of your digital assets. Therefore, don't take this decision lightly by going with the first option presented to you. We hope this article serves as a helpful resource for making an educated decision about cloud computing.
Related: “Be the Life of the Party: Server Hosting”