Why it's essential to find a cloud hosting partner who serves you and your clients' needs
With so many competing providers advertising themselves as the best, it's essential to know how to find a cloud hosting partner who effectively serves you and your clients' needs. It can be enough of a headache managing your cloud services, let alone managing those of your customers, especially if you're in the UK.
Many businesses look for the infrastructure and the resources to avoid going over budget, but the options can be limited, leaving many companies struggling to host alone.
Services Provided vs. the Need
One of the first things you need to ask a potential cloud hosting partner is about their services. The second factor you need to be clear upon is the needs of your client. The latter may seem obvious, but it is surprising how many businesses fail to get a clear grasp on this concept.
Of course, the needs of your client don't have to be complicated. Your client may only be looking for a cloud to store data such as email and customer data. If that is the case, then they may only require you to host a secure email gateway.
At the same time, a client's needs may be deeply complex. For example, a business may require multiple applications that simultaneously perform tasks deployed deep on their infrastructure. If that's the case, you will need to begin the selection process with a detailed and thorough needs analysis. It is paramount that you determine in advance what kind of service your clients require and then be sure that the provider you're considering can offer that level of service.
Private cloud vs. the public cloud
The private clouds are a simple computing infrastructure used by a single organization housed at your facility or that of the third-party service provider. That means that all your IT resources are run and maintained on a private network entirely dedicated to your organization's use alone.
With the public cloud, all the infrastructure and resources are owned and managed by a third-party provider. Users then access them over the Internet or via a web browser. In other words, public clouds are multitenant, which means you share the infrastructure with other organizations.
A third option is through using what is known as a hybrid model. This essentially means a private cloud infrastructure uses public cloud services as a part of the package.
So, what is the advantage of using a hybrid model in this manner? The significant advantage of this system is that the client can access a unified and more complete computing environment where both sources are managed. At the same time, it does mean that high levels of integration and orchestration are required to allow the seamless movement of data and applications between them.
But, how do you know what type of service works best for your clients? A sound cloud hosting partner in the UK should provide you with detailed information about the services they offer and help you determine the service that best meets your clients' needs. That way, you will better understand what you need, plus allow you to make the right decision for your clients.
Where data and networking are concerned, security should always be top of mind. One of the main factors holding back many business owners' from adopting the cloud is security concerns. Using a cloud provider essentially means handing over your private data to a third party and expecting that they will keep it safe.
With the news awash with stories of data breaches at big companies, your clients may be unenthusiastic about handing over their data to someone else. According to the New York Times, criminals hacked the computer networks at 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 of taking a proactive security approach. A secure cloud solution will be able to ensure that your client's data is safe. 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 clients, these are some of the measures you need to look out for:
Anti-virus protection runs off a cloud-based server rather than a user's computer, thus meaning a small client program is installed locally, which connects to the web service.
Look for an anti-virus that is encrypted, which will mean encoding and transforming any incoming data before it is transferred to cloud storage. Algorithms will also transform data into unreadable ciphertext. The downside is that encryption prevents data from being read while 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, distinguished by 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 centre. 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 two or more 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 clients are also likely to be concerned about their data's physical location. A cloud hosting partner located in the UK does not necessarily mean that the servers are all located within the provider's premises or even in-country.
Providers often use overseas sites for several reasons. Often costs, redundancy, and colocation play a part in the geographic location of the site.
These off-site locations can have several consequences for you and your clients. To address these potential concerns, identify a cloud hosting partner that offers colocation and can take a cloud platform and place it anywhere in the world lighting pace.
It is vital to source a hosting partner with a tailored 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 practice methodologies focused on always protecting your organization's data.
A managed cloud hosting platform is essentially your company's first line of defense when it comes to monitoring and keeping your systems protected. So, you must choose the best you can afford, and finding one that caters to all your needs rather than one or two will save you and your business from future headaches.
Managing just one cloud estate is quite a burden on any business. Driving two can significantly distract from core activities, and managing multiple providers and applications is not practical. So, overall, make sure that the partner you sign up with is engaged with you and your client's needs and aligned with your goals while providing you with guidance and recommendations along the way. Transparency is the key to ultimately delivering the benefits, security, and peace of mind, which will not only keep you happy but your clients happy too.
Amir Hashmi is CEO and Founder of award-winning cloud and managed technology services company, zsah