Small businesses are often aware of the advantages offered by cloud computing services, such as low upfront costs, flexible access to software and inexpensive data backup. Still, they may have questions about getting started. Common questions and concerns include how to choose the right cloud applications, how to use the applications and the security of their data when stored in the cloud, according to an article on the SmallBusiness.co.uk website.
The terminology of cloud computing is still evolving, as is often the case with new technology, and competing terms can create confusion among new users. For example, a business owner may be familiar with the idea of “online backup” (automatically backing up business data to secure servers via an Internet connection) but not realize that “cloud backup” is simply another name for the same process.
To help you get oriented and find the right cloud solutions for your business, here are four questions to ask providers about their services:
- How will I get started? When a small business owner is interested in adopting a cloud-based service, he or she may not know how to install or set up the service. With online backup, for instance, how does the initial data backup take place? With any vendor, it’s a good idea to ask if they offer implementation services; in some cases, the vendor may offer free setup.
- How will I get my data back? Especially if you’re new to cloud technology, seek out cloud providers that offer customer service and technical support staff. The business owner or employee tasked with setting up a cloud service may want the option to call someone directly instead of reading a FAQ page on the website looking for answers. At a minimum, the SmallBusiness.co.uk article suggests that you look for services that include help desk resources for the first 30 days of use, during which you and your staff can ask questions and gain experience.
- How do I know my data is secure? Users comfortable with basic cloud computing concepts will often still have questions about security. The service provider should offer an overview of its data storage and security in addition to answering any questions about specific details, such as compliance with industry and governmental regulations.
- How will this service scale with my business? As your company grows, can the cloud service accommodate more users and functionality? Bear in mind, your needs may also decrease, so make sure the service can scale down as well as up.
When it comes to cloud services, every company has different needs and uses. These four questions should help you choose the right services for your business.
We’d like to hear your thoughts. Does your business use cloud computing services? What tips do you have for companies when it comes to choosing cloud providers? Join the conversation in the comments section.
Source: SmallBusiness.co.uk, March 2013