Choosing to move your business operations like document storage and emails to the cloud can be very beneficial to your business. Cloud computing is known to cut costs, streamline workflow and do away with in-house IT personnel and hardware.

Cloud computing also makes it easier for remote employees to report for duty from any location, access strategic information and collaborate online. Many Canadian companies have embraced the cloud in their internal operations. Using IT support services in Toronto and other cities in the country, many businesses have made great strides towards enjoying every benefit that the cloud makes available.

But perhaps small businesses have benefited the most from cloud computing. Cloud-based services have assisted small businesses in handling IT concerns like security, maintenance, support, and backup. This has given the businesses to the opportunity to concentrate on the business at hand.

The number of companies offering cloud hosting services is ever increasing and choosing a cloud service provider can be very challenging. This article will guide you how to choose a cloud hosting service. Before selecting a cloud hosting service, you should look at the following:

The type of services provided

The type of cloud service you choose is determined by your cloud computing needs. Dropbox is a cloud-based software which provides document, photo and video storage. You can also get QuickBooks from Intuit for online accounting.

If you require more than basic data storage, there are several cloud service providers that offer a wide range of general cloud computing services. Some of these services include cloud applications, software, and IT networking infrastructure which can access virtual servers.

The pricing structure

In cloud computing, you are only required to pay for what you use. Businesses should look out for the large upfront costs, something common in popular cloud service providers. A basic pricing scheme for cloud services should be on a pay-as-you-go basis from the onset. The plan should be flexible to accommodate any extra costs.

Fees can be charged depending on the vendor. It can be either hourly, monthly, semi-annually or annually. However, cloud computing services will vary depending on the company’s needs and the service provider.  

The security of the cloud

When it comes to moving your company’s critical data to the cloud, one of the primary considerations should be security. Cloud providers always have very high-security measures in place which are regularly updated. Before engaging the services on any vendor, you have to be sure you are comfortable with their security approach.

Vital security measures to look for include anti-virus detection, data encryption, firewall, user authentication and regular security audits. It is important to know the employees in the cloud company who are authorized to access your data.

Also, companies should ensure that the cloud services provider does employee background checks to ensure they don’t hire cyber criminals or identity thieves. The cloud company should be compliant with government legislation concerning cloud computing.

Location of the data center and its safety

The location and security of the data centers where your company’s data is stored are very critical as online security. You don’t want to engage the services of a company with its servers stored in a place where they could be accessed and compromised very quickly.

You should also enquire how the data center is protected from natural disasters like floods, fire, storms and earthquakes. The cloud service provider should also show you how the facility is protected from intruders who can steal your sensitive information.

Standards for Attestation Engagements 16 (SSAE 16) is a sign that the cloud company is prepared to deal with unexpected threats. This certification proves that the vendor products, system, and data comply with the industry security standards. These standards are meant for client access, privacy and data center physical security.

The downtime history

Downtime is the period when cloud users cannot access their service provider for a period of time. Many companies don’t want to experience this ever as it can cost them a great deal of money.
However, even the well-known cloud providers experience downtime sometimes.

It is the best idea to choose a provider with as few possible scenarios as possible.  Some providers have posted their downtime history online. It’s a good idea to always ask for the provider’s track record for assurance purposes.

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