With so many competing providers billing themselves as the best, knowing how to find a cloud hosting partner that effectively meets your needs and those of your customers is essential. This can be a headache enough to manage your cloud services, let alone those of your customers, especially if you are in the UK.
Many businesses are looking for the infrastructure and resources to avoid going over budget, but the options can be limited, leaving many businesses struggling to host on their own.
Services provided versus need
One of the first things you should ask a potential cloud hosting partner is about their services. The second factor you need to be clear about is your client’s needs. This last point may seem obvious, but it’s surprising how many companies fail to clearly grasp this concept.
Of course, your customer’s needs don’t have to be complicated. Your customer might only be looking for a cloud to store data such as emails and customer data. If so, they may only ask you to host a secure email gateway.
At the same time, a client’s needs can be deeply complex. For example, a business might need multiple applications that simultaneously perform deep deployed tasks on their infrastructure. If so, you will need to start the selection process with a detailed and in-depth needs analysis. It is essential that you determine in advance what kind of service your customers need and then make sure that the provider you are considering can provide that level of service.
Private cloud vs public cloud
Private clouds are a simple IT infrastructure used by a single organization hosted at your facility or that of the third-party service provider. This means that all your IT resources are managed and maintained on a private network entirely dedicated for the exclusive use of your organization.
With the public cloud, all infrastructure and resources are owned and managed by a third-party provider. It is then accessed by users through the Internet or through a web browser. In other words, public clouds are multi-tenant, which means you share the infrastructure with other organizations.
A third option is to use what is called a hybrid model. Essentially, this means that a private cloud infrastructure uses public cloud services as part of the package.
So what’s the benefit of using a hybrid model in this way? The important advantage of this system is that the customer can access a unified and more complete IT environment where both sources are managed. At the same time, this means that high levels of integration and orchestration are needed to allow the seamless movement of data and applications between them.
But how do you know what kind of service works best for your customers? A good UK cloud hosting partner should provide you with detailed information about the services they offer and help you determine which service best meets your customers’ needs. This way you will better understand what you need and you can make the right decision for your customers.
When it comes to data and networking, security should always be a priority. Security concerns are one of the biggest factors preventing many business owners from embracing the cloud. Using a cloud provider essentially means handing over your private data to a third party and expecting them to keep it safe.
With the news inundated with stories of data breaches at large organizations, your customers may not be enthusiastic about passing their data on to someone else. According to the New York Times, criminals hacked the computer networks of 205,280 organizations using ransomware in 2019, with the average ransom payment being $ 84,116.
You can allay these fears by choosing a cloud hosting partner with a proven track record in taking a proactive security approach. A secure cloud solution will be able to guarantee the security of your customer’s data. So, if you want to know what kind of data protection security measures your potential cloud hosting partners have in place to protect you and your customers, here are some of the measures you should watch out for:
Virus protection runs on a cloud-based server rather than a user’s computer, which means that a small client program is installed locally that connects to the web service.
Look for an encrypted antivirus, which means encrypting and transforming all incoming data before it is transferred to cloud storage. The algorithms will also turn the data into unreadable cipher text. The downside is that the encryption prevents reading data in transit or in use.
The job of a firewall is to stop or mitigate unwanted access to the cloud network.
There are two types of firewalls, which differ in what users need to secure. Software as a Service (SaaS) firewalls secure the network and its users, while next generation firewalls are deployed in a virtual data center. The latter protects the organization’s servers in an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) or Platform as a Service (PaaS) model.
In multi-factor authentication (MFA), users must identify themselves using at least two independent methods. For example, in addition to a password, the user also enters a code sent to their mobile phone, making MFA one of the best defenses against most hacking attempts.
Your customers are also likely to be concerned about the physical location of their data. A cloud hosting partner located in the UK does not necessarily mean that the servers are all located on the provider’s premises or even in the country.
Suppliers often use overseas sites for several reasons. Often, cost, redundancy and colocation play a role in the location of the site.
These offsite locations can have several consequences for you and your customers. To resolve these potential issues, identify a cloud hosting partner that offers colocation and can take a cloud platform and place it anywhere in the world.
It is essential to find a hosting partner with a bespoke backup who is confident in their recovery solutions. These will be equipped with the best backup and high availability technologies. The best cloud hosting partners in the industry will have the best methodologies focused on always protecting your organization’s data.
Essentially, a managed cloud hosting platform is your business’s first line of defense when it comes to monitoring and protecting your systems. So you need to choose the best that you can afford, and finding one that meets all of your needs rather than just one or two will save you and your business future headaches.
Managing a single cloud park is a burden on any business. Partnering can significantly distract from core businesses, and managing multiple vendors and applications is inconvenient. So overall, make sure the partner you sign up with is engaged with you and your client’s needs and aligned with your goals while providing you with advice and recommendations throughout the process. Transparency is the key to ultimately delivering the benefits, security and peace of mind, which will not only make you happy, but your customers as well.
Photo credit: Shutterstock / phloxii
Amir Hashmi is CEO and Founder of the award-winning cloud services and managed technology company, zsah