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How to choose a cloud vendor

How to choose a cloud vendor

By now, you should be familiar with the cloud, but one question I get time and time again is how to choose a cloud vendor. With so many options, I agree it can be confusing. Here is some basic information to help you determine your needs, as well as a set of questions you can use to assess potential cloud vendors.

First, decide how you are going to use the cloud. Depending on your organization’s needs, you have to decide what service or services will help you reduce costs and increase efficiency and accessibility.

The cloud comes in three flavors: infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and the one you probably hear about most often, software as a service (SaaS). Let’s take a quick look at what you need to know about each type of cloud offering.

IaaS is the hardware and software that powers it all, including servers, storage, networks and operating systems.

PaaS is the set of tools and services designed to make coding and deploying those applications quick and efficient.

SaaS includes commercial applications designed for end-users and delivered over the web.

Pricing of the various cloud vendor types can be very confusing and hard to calculate. Here are the characteristics for all three:

Depending on your needs, you’ll want to vet each cloud vendor through a careful, strategic review. Here is a comprehensive list of questions and observations in four areas.

Stability of cloud vendors

Redundancy and availability

Customer service record

Security

All of the questions included above should not be considered an all-inclusive list to consider when choosing a cloud service vendor, but they are a good start. When companies are looking to outsource their information technology, they should perform a risk assessment and develop a project plan for transitioning to a cloud vendor. Finally, the project should be managed just like any other major project by monitoring progress during implementation; this helps to ensure the vendor is fulfilling the customer’s needs as the agreement specifies.

Good luck and may the cloud be with you.

Jeffrey Streif, CPA, is the CFO of Koller Enterprises Inc. in Fenton, Mo. He has more than 25 years of financial auditing experience, including more than 12 years as an information systems auditor and consultant. He also is a member of the AICPA IMTA Cybersecurity Task Force.

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