Originally published December, 2017. Updated October, 2021.
Choosing a cloud services provider is something that should be done with very careful consideration. Cloud services is one of the fastest growing sectors in the business technology landscape today. Accounting firms, law firms, professional services organizations – small and mediums sized businesses in every shape, scope and market – are turning to Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) for Cloud Server Instance, Cloud Backup, Cloud based Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery, and a variety of other business IT services powered by this innovative technology
With that said, your cloud services provider should be an IT steward, facilitator and Sherpa all rolled into one – a provider of IT services designed to help a business operate more efficiently and sustain predictable business operations at all times.
Your cloud services provider gives you access to remote Help Desk support, restores backups monthly to ensure coverage, tests failovers annually to ensure your business IT can thrive under any threat and optimizes your virtual servers consumption reducing cost and improving performance – all focused on keeping your data safe, secure and accessible 24/7.
However, choosing the right Cloud Services provider for your business may not be so … predictable.
What should I consider when choosing a cloud services provider?
There are many IT companies in Washington D.C. (or anywhere, really) who offer cloud solutions but aren’t experts. Some will simply migrate you to the cloud and leave without supporting or securing the client. This scenario leaves you managing your consumption, security and backups. And, unless you have specific cloud experts on your IT staff, these are not areas you want to handle internally. Too much can go wrong. For example, if you don’t monitor your consumption at least monthly, you’re likely to overspend.
Here are 7 things to keep in mind when choosing a cloud services provider:
1. The right provider will ask the right questions about you, your goals and your business.
They will want to know if you require specific resources from your cloud provider. They will want to find out if you need certain characteristics and specifications to run your workload. They will want to know all about your data and your requirements for moving your data. The right CSP will be filled with questions – for you!
2. Do they have a cloud consultant or CIO expert.
Corporate IT strategy, quarterly technology performance reviews, budget planning and business impact analysis – all are components of Virtual CIO options available by leading cloud providers.
3. The Right Cloud Services Provider will sport a great track record!
It’s important to make sure that the CSP you hire has an IT services pedigree with a track record of solid client retention and professional, knowledgeable consultants – experts who understand what it takes to keep your business up and running within the borders of a predictable IT spend model and utilizing modern cloud IT infrastructure.
4. The Right CSP will understand your industry!
A knowledgeable Cloud Services Provider will make recommendations for improvements beyond your hardware and software. They should provide insight for improved workflow, training, and software systems. The right CSP for your business will be the CSP with the greatest understanding of your business and industry.
5. They are up-to-date with emerging technologies
You want a balance here – it wouldn’t make sense for them to provide services that are on the bleeding edge of technology, but you do want to choose a cloud provider who is using current technology.
6. They manage cloud migrations
Cloud migrations require specialization. Done well, your business quickly sees positive results like enhanced growth, more productivity, easier collaboration and stronger security. Done wrong, it’s a disaster that unnecessarily exposes your organization to risks.
This is the first step in the cloud and it sets for your experience. Nortec recently was recognized by Microsoft with the Elite Windows Server and SQL Servicer Migration to Microsoft Azure Advanced Specialization, because we follow Microsoft best practices to ensure clients have smooth migrations.
7. The right cloud services provider offers different services
You need someone who will do more than flipping a switch and keeping the lights on. Think about this – in Washington D.C. specifically, many companies have to obtain and hold the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) to contract with the Department of Defense (DoD). Any provider who doesn’t understand CMMC could cost you your contracts.
If you’re choosing a cloud services provider, look to make sure they will:
- Ensure security
- Test backups
- Align with compliance requirements like CMMC
- Monitor consumption and make recommendations
- Purchase licensing for you (for a better price)
- Manage and migrate infrastructure
- Align your cloud to strategic objectives
- Use best practices to migrate you to the cloud
- Train your staff on new solutions
- Offer help desk support
A word about cloud security
A lot of companies worry about security in the cloud. With the right cloud services provider and cloud host, you’re actually more likely to have a more secure network in the cloud than out of it. But only if the provider is layering security into every aspect of the cloud.
Why? Criminals are masters at evading detection, even once they get into your network. They are very skilled at phishing emails and social engineering. Just recently, one of our clients’ employees clicked on a malware link that came through their inbox. It was so well disguised that the employee didn’t realize what had happened and continued working. Nortec’s security monitoring detected the potential threat and acted quickly to remove the employee from the network until the issue could be resolved. Without that quick action, the entire network would have been infected before the end of the day.
We love Microsoft 365’s award-winning security features. They make it easy to add safeguards and monitor for suspicious activity at an affordable price point.
Why Choose Nortec as Your Cloud Services Provider
We’re one of the top Microsoft Certified Partners in Washington D.C. and Pittsburgh. Our Advanced Specialization in Microsoft Cloud Migration shows that Microsoft has audited to ensure we follow their best practices. We believe that if you’re not successful, we’re not successful.
Don’t take our word for it. See why our clients partner with us:
Some cloud service providers will get you to the cloud and just keep the lights on for you. Not us. We are a proactive part of your team as your cloud partner. We’ll ensure you have the right licensing, guide you through the complexities of the cloud and show you where you have opportunities to reduce costs or make an investment that helps your business with strategic objectives.
In the world of hybrid and fully remote work, we know that the right cloud services provider is both a consultant who guides you towards achieving your company’s vision, while being experts in all aspects of the cloud, like security, infrastructure, backups and migration.
We start with a whiteboarding session to show you what the cloud can do from you – wherever you are in the cloud. Ask them to detail their experience and expertise in each facet of the cloud and speak to existing clients to vet them out. We can tell you that many of our clients found us after they either managed their own cloud or worked with providers who lacked expertise in the cloud. We’ve saved them money, hassle and headaches.