It is no cakewalk to choose the right cloud hosting provider. Although the cloud industry is on the rise and there are several cloud providers in the market, certain parameters should be kept in mind while choosing the likely prospect for cloud hosting.
To be fair, no cloud hosting provider can be categorised as good or bad. It all depends on the type of services you want from the provider and the money you are willing to pay for it. It also relies on the nature of your business and the expertise of the cloud provider in that field.
You might be tempted to choose a renowned cloud provider, but I recommend you to go for a provider that knows your business industry well. However, you cannot compromise with some factors like support, security, network, infrastructure etc.
We will try to cover some of the critical factors that will help you choose a cloud hosting provider specific to your requirements and budget.
What type of cloud hosting services does the provider offer?
You can choose between the different type of services that the cloud hosting providers offer. These are discussed in detail.
- IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) – Some cloud hosting providers offer you with their infrastructure to host your process. It means that you can treat the cloud instance as a personal server and install the Operating System and applications as per your process. You are given full control of the OS and can use it to host applications or websites.
- PaaS (Platform as a Service) – Cloud providers offering PaaS give you access to an instance in the cloud with OS already installed. You can use it for any development process, be it software, web or application. The users do not have control over the OS. They can ask for an OS like Windows or Linux and start working on it. PaaS is the choice of the developers that do not want to install and maintain the OS.
- SaaS (Software as a Service) – As the name suggests, cloud providers can also provide access to software as a part of their cloud services. Google Docs is an example of that. You can create, edit and store files in the cloud. They give you an account with which you can access a part of their cloud.
- BPaaS (Business Process as a Service) – BPaaS can combine the functionality of all the cloud services like IaaS, PaaS and SaaS to build a business solution specific to a process.
Gartner defines BPaaS as the delivery of business process outsourcing (BPO) services that are sourced from the cloud and constructed for multitenancy.
According to a survey by Gartner, the majority of the market share goes to SaaS, followed by BPaaS, IaaS and PaaS.
Does the cloud provider understand your business domain?
Let us suppose that you are a healthcare provider and want to create a portal on the cloud from where the patients can access their health records. Or you want to host an accounting software where the users can maintain the balance sheets, billing information etc.
Both requirements demand a different set of specifications and features. A healthcare provider may require more security and HIPAA compliance, whereas an accounting user may need an efficient collaboration between various business tools.
A cloud service provider may provide you with your specifications. But it is always convenient to choose the provider that is already an expert in the domain.
For instance, we at Ace Cloud Hosting UK expertise in hosting of accounting software like Sage and QuickBooks. Hence, we know the specifications required to host the software.
What level of support does the cloud provider offer?
When it comes to cloud hosting, an efficient technical support is non-negotiable. An inefficient support team can hamper your productivity.
Though most of the providers offer 24/7 support, it is also essential to evaluate the response time. The support team should at least contact you by email to address the issue. Phone calls and live chat may be required for spontaneous needs. They should provide the estimated time required to resolve the issue.
However, during the time of a crisis, the support team should contact you immediately. There should be a proper ticketing system to prioritise the issues.
The support team should be able to cater to the requests regarding any changes in your process such as scaling, OS reinstallation or adding new features very efficiently.
What are the SLA and the guaranteed uptime?
Go through the SLA (Service Level Agreement) that the cloud hosting provider has to offer. SLA is an agreement between the hosting provider and the customer that defines the standard of service that the former is liable to provide the customer.
It includes the level of support, the terms and conditions of service and the responsibilities of the cloud service provider and the customer.
SLA also contains performance-related parameters like uptime, response time and accessibility. Every cloud hosting provider offers an uptime that defines its performance and gives them an edge over the rest.
While choosing a cloud hosting provider, it is paramount to analyse the SLA thoroughly which can give you an indication of the cloud provider’s functioning.
What about security practices?
Security demands significant consideration when it comes to cloud hosting. Would you like a hosting provider with good support, affordable pricing but an insecure infrastructure or network?
Your data on the cloud can be confidential and uncompromisable. Sometimes it contains sensitive information like payment card details of the customer, employee details, etc.
There are multiple security parameters you should check while opting for a cloud service provider. Let us discuss some of them in detail.
- Infrastructure Security – The data centre in which your data is stored should be secure. It should imbibe multiple security checks so that only authorised personnel are allowed to enter the facility. Also, the data centre should have redundant equipment for cooling, power, network etc. so that the data is secure at the time of equipment failure.
- Network Security – It involves setting up the firewall, network routes, DDoS protection, monitoring services, Intrusion Detection System (IDS)/ Intrusion Protection System (IPS), data encryption, data analysis and filtering.
- User Access Management – It involves setting up strong password policies, multi-level authentication, process-oriented access etc.
- Data retention and Backup – It includes backup policies and duration up to which the cloud service provider retains your data.
Is the provider cost-effective?
Be it any industry, let alone the cloud services; price is always a key factor to the customers. However, when it comes to the cloud hosting industry, it is unfair to simply compare the pricing. A cloud hosting provider should be cost-effective.
Being cost-effective implies that the provider should offer efficient services at an affordable cost. For instance, some providers would provide you with outdated features and services at a nominal rate whereas others would give advanced technology at very high pricing.
A word of advice!
While opting for a cloud provider, you should analyse the kind of services that are provided to you at a given price. The type of support they offer and the infrastructure they possess should also be taken into consideration. High-security standards are a must. Go for a cloud provider that gives you an advanced set up at an affordable rate.
Opting for a free trial of the service is a smart move as you can experience the service standards that the cloud provider offers. During the trial period, you can test various aspects of the hosting providers, such as their support team, on-boarding process, speed of servers, availability, etc. With these factors analysed, choosing a hosting service will not be a daunting task anymore.