Making the decision to move your business into the cloud is a big one. Make sure you ask all the right questions so that you can make an informed choice. 

1.  How secure is your cloud?

Not all cloud providers can promise high levels of virtual security. Before you make the switch to cloud computing, make sure you know what steps your provider is taking to ensure the safety of your data online. Do they utilize firewalls and anti-virus software? What about dual or multi-factor authentication? Do they perform security audits on a regular basis? If the answer to any of these is “no”, you may want to choose a different cloud provider.

2.  How safe is your data center?

Virtual security is important, but physical security is too. Does your cloud provider have one or more data centers in the United States? Where are they located? What measures do they take to ensure your data’s safety from natural disasters like fires or floods? Are the data centers protected through camera monitoring and restricted employee access?

3.  Can I customize my cloud service to meet my business’ needs?

One of the best things about the cloud is its flexibility. Can you add cloud storage as your company grows?  The cloud is capable of providing you with as little or as much storage as you need—so your cloud service provider should allow you to capitalize on that.

4.  What’s your track record when it comes to downtime?

No one is safe from power outages, not even the biggest cloud providers. However, data centers should have backup plans in place in case of disasters like a power outage. You should know your cloud provider’s track record. If they can’t promise you an uptime of 99% or above, look elsewhere.

5.  How much does it cost?

While you shouldn’t base your cloud computing decision on cost alone, we can’t deny that it is a major consideration. The cost of cloud services will differ depending on what your business needs, so it’s important to have this discussion with your managed service provider before making your decision. Typically, most businesses see an economic advantage to the cloud, but it’s not true in all cases.

6.  Will authorized users be able to access our business applications 24/7?

You and your employees (or whomever you allow) should be able to access your business information and software anytime, anyplace. This is one of the reasons you are considering cloud services in the first place, right? If your cloud service provider doesn’t allow this sort of access, find one that does.

7.  What happens if you lose my data?

If the data center accidentally loses your data, you need to know how they will fix the problem. Most cloud service providers will do regular backups, which will make sure that your data is returned quickly and safely. You should find out what your data center’s backup procedures are, and what other measures they will take to prevent data loss.