5 Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Cloud Host Provider

Today, there are literally thousands of cloud hosting companies providing services from simple web hosting to complete cloud computing IT solutions for businesses of every size in every industry.  If you are considering migrating all or part of your business to the cloud, it’s important to perform due diligence. Make sure the host provider you choose supports the specific needs of your company. The first step is to define your IT needs and then begin the research process.

Here are 5 important questions to ask before choosing a host provider.

1.  Do they offer a standard service level agreement, or can you negotiate a custom agreement to fit your company’s specific needs?

When trusting your company’s IT to third party cloud hosting, it’s important to monitor every dimension of service that you’re receiving. Your SLA should include significant penalties if the promised service is not delivered. Include an outlined service agreement with specific support targets. Companies must align their support team for both internal customer support along with provider support. Make sure usage tracking is in place and clearly outlined. Most providers offer a “pay-as-you-go” business model. Services can be added as needed. Have monitoring in place to track usage accurately.

2.  Do they offer dedicated server technology or only shared hosting?

Often businesses begin host services by implementing a shared cloud hosting plan. This means your virtual server resides on a physical server shared with other businesses. If you find your needs have changed or you anticipate growth, make sure to choose a provider that offers dedicated server options. If your needs expand and you need more services than a shared plan provides if your host doesn’t offer dedicated service, it may become necessary to switch providers, which can be a costly process.

3.  Are there storage and bandwidth allowances? Do they offer script support?

More hosting companies are beginning to offer unlimited storage and bandwidth, so this may not be a concern. Taking your future growth into account ask about limitations when choosing a provider. If, for example, you’re hosting an ecommerce website, limitations may eventually effect your site’s performance. The same holds true for script support. If you run WordPress on your site, script support allows quick set-up and changes. Hosts may limit the number of SQL databases that can be created, which can effect WordPress and other programs.

4.  Do they support standard APIs? Is their data and application architecture flexible enough to provide for your needs?

The Application Programming Interface (API) is the software interface that allows your company’s infrastructure and applications to plug into the cloud. This is the place for standardization, where your company can build connections between your internal data and the cloud. Standardized APIs allow for easy data transformation. Your needs as a business will grow and change, make sure your providers architecture regarding data and applications is modular enough to move services between various cloud platforms.

5.  What level of security do they offer?

Many companies hesitate migration to the cloud due to security concerns. Providers are aware of this and have addressed security issues head-on. Make sure your provider offers several levels of security protection. At minimum look for identity management, access control to protect information, and authentication security to control data and application changes.

Cloud hosting offers tremendous benefits when compared to the cost and management needs of an internal infrastructure. Perform your due diligence, ask the right questions of your host and migrating your business to the cloud can be easy, cost effective and a great business decision.