SCORE Tip of the Week: How to Pick a Cloud Services Provider

David DeArmond of Baton Rouge SCORE gives advice for evaluating cloud storage services.

You’ve probably been inundated with talk about “working in the cloud” and how putting your files and documents in cyberspace can help your business save time, be more efficient and get on the fast track to success. But as you consider using cloud services it is vital to the survival of your business that you place your data in good hands.  Below are some questions to help you compare services and choose the ones that are best for your business.

  • What kind of data are you putting in the cloud? Is it important information? Or is the data not all that crucial and you’re putting it in the cloud as a convenience?  Vital and important information can certainly still be in the cloud, but the more important the data, the more reliable and safe the service needs to be.  If the data is not very important, a less expensive offering can be considered. The same holds true for sensitive data.  The more sensitive the data, the more important security is in the cloud service.
  • What should you know about the cloud provider? First, how many years have they been in business? There is no minimum number of years, but experience is something to be considered.  As usual, the longer a company is in business, the better the chances are that they offer a good service.  If you’re considering a young cloud startup, determine whether it has a big name backing them or investing in them or if they have some large clients that indicate they are a trusted company. Check out their reputation and ask for references.
  • What kind of data encryption is employed? There are different levels of encryption and different needs depending on the data. Health-care information and credit card transactions require that data be encrypted while stored on the servers, along with encryption during data transmission.  For less sensitive data, it may only be necessary to encrypt the data during transmission.  Most providers provide both, but it is important to verify they are indeed using it. 

Also ask about setup fees, length of agreement and support procedures and more. Remember, cloud services bring many advantages, especially to new startups.  But your data is your company’s lifeline.  Protect it as such.

About the Author

David DeArmond is a SCORE mentor in Baton Rouge, LA, whose expertise is in information technology. For your free mentoring appointment, visit www.score.org/mentors.