Guest Blog: Five Questions You Should Always Ask Your Cloud Vendor!

Summary:Selecting a cloud vendor isn’t something that should be done lightly. If your business is to trust a vendor with its data, you need to scrutinize it from every angle. Here are five questions to get you started.  

When it comes to selecting a cloud vendor, an organization has nothing but options. With the rapidly-inflating popularity of the cloud, the market is positively flooded with vendors of all kinds. Unfortunately, not all of those vendors can be trusted with your data. While I’m certain there are few openly malevolent vendors, there are nevertheless many businesses you want to keep away from – far away.

Some of them are careless with customer data. Others allow third-party access. Still more sneak in unfair contracts and unreasonable fees. Unfortunately, it’s not always clear at the outset whether you’re dealing with a good vendor or one of the bad eggs. You’re going to need to question them – and make your own judgment on whether or not they’re worth your time.

Here are five such questions that you should ask every cloud vendor before going into business with them.

What Security Measures Does Your Platform Utilize? How Will You Protect Our Data?

It’s no secret that security is still the biggest elephant in the room where the cloud is concerned, so any vendor worth its salt will go out of its way to demonstrate that it intends to put the security of its clients before anything else. Don’t be afraid to dig a bit here when trying to figure out exactly how the vendor’s going to keep your information – and don’t just stop at finding out what security software they’ve got in place.

Question everything. Ask them if they’ve had a data breach in the last several years. Find out who else has access to your data in addition to yourself and the vendor. If possible, ask to see their security policy. What you essentially want to do here is demand total transparency. If a vendor isn’t willing to provide that, it’s probably better to move on.

What Does Your SLA Look Like?

If you’re required to sign any sort of contract at the start of your business relationship, pay close attention to the document, and keep an eye out for any hidden clauses. Ask them if there’s an ‘out’ clause, and find out what their policies are for service outages.  Ideally, you want a vendor that provides you with a reasonable exit path from your relationship if things work out, and one that’s willing to reimburse you for damages caused by outages.

What Equipment Do You Use? How Redundant Is Your Infrastructure?

Your next step is to determine what sort of infrastructure your vendor is running. How modern is it? Do they have reasonable levels of redundancy in place in the event that something should fail? Also don’t be afraid to ask them if they own their equipment – and where that equipment is housed, if they do. Again, this is your information, so it’s not unreasonable to demand a certain standard of transparency.

What Sort Of Ongoing Support Do You Offer? What’s Your Disaster Recovery Plan?

Once you’ve determined that your potential vendor’s software, hardware, and SLA are both to your liking, it’s time to look at the vendor itself. What sort of support does it provide to its clients? Is there a 24-hour information line for you to call in the event that something goes wrong? How are maintenance and upgrades to be handled, and what level of uptime can the vendor provide?

Even if everything else is to your liking, it’s not unreasonable to back out if you don’t like a vendor’s answer here.

What Operating Systems/Platforms Are You Compatible With?

Last but certainly not least, if you’re running with a particular operating system or application platform, you need to make sure your vendor’s software is compatible; otherwise, you’re going to run into trouble down the road. Once you’ve made sure everything plays nice together, that’s it. Congratulations on your new business relationship.

About Ted Navarro- Ted is the technical writer and inbound marketer for ComputeNext, an innovative cloud marketplace company. Check out the ComputeNext blog for the latest in cloud computing and IaaS technology. Follow them on Twitter, Like them on Facebook, and engage in the discussion at

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