In the video series “Journey To The Cloud” so far, Geni Whitehouse, a CPA, Keynote Presenter, co-founder of a bookkeeping business, and also a part-time winery consultant, explained about the basics of cloud technology. Then, she discussed the different types of cloud and what they mean to businesses. In the previous video, she explained the main deployment types of Infrastructure as a Service, and why private cloud is the most beneficial deployment option for accountants.
Geni is the author of “How to Make a Boring Subject Interesting: 52 Ways Even A Nerd Can Be Heard” and was mentioned by Accounting Today as one of the top 100 most influential people in accounting in 2011. She was also named “One of the most powerful women in accounting” and one of the 25 thought leaders in the accounting profession by CPA Practice Advisor.
In this video, GeniWhitehouse discusses the essential parameters of choosing a cloud hosting provider.
Let’s watch the video to know more-
So, now let’s talk about what to look for in a cloud hosting provider. The first thing you want to know about is what the infrastructure design is going to look like. You want to understand the elements of the data center setup, and specifically where that data center is going to be located. You want to make sure you know where the data centers are located. That’s important because,obviously, you don’t want it to be located inan earthquake zone.
Next, you want to make sure the part of that infrastructure includes High-Performance computers that will meet your needs so that you have the kind of performance that you expectand require. Finally, you want to make sure that you have three levels of security so that you have controlled user access. People that you want to access data are controlled and can access the information they need to, but other folks can’t get access to your critical client or business data.
Next, you want to make sure that there is a work level security, and that includes information, firewalls at that point. Finally, you want to make sure that data center has high-security standards and that the physical environment is going to be secure and also protected from things like fires and floods and all that other stuff. So that’s the first element that we need to master when we are considering a provider.
Next, you want to look at the Service Level Agreement, and that is a document that spells out all of the expectations that you have in terms of relationship with your hosting provider. You want to make sure that there is a document of lists of what they provide for you, the terms and conditions are spelled out including the billing and payment and contract terms, and then what kind of compensation you might expect in the event there is somesort of a failure on that relationship.
Then you gotta worry about backups, critical components. Having gone through a hosting scenario where things didn’t go so well, you want to make sure that you understand where that backup is actually stored. You don’t want it to be stored in the same space as your live data. You want to find out how often your information is going to be backed-up. You want to know that you have not just a file backup but also redundant hard drives that are being backed-up, multiple server backups, and then also the data center backups so that you have all the protection that you need. Then you want to know how long that backup that you have is going to be maintained by that hosting provider.
Next, you want to make sure that you understand their business continuity and disaster recovery plans because obviously disasters do happen, and they seem to happen in a more increasing rate in the United States these days. So, what’s their data replication policy, and how can they re-build that environment, so you can continue to function in the event there is a problem.
Next, what’s their uptime guarantee? If you have a 99.999% uptime guarantee, that means you are only likely to be out at a maximum of 6 min in the course of the year. That’s pretty good. Anything less than that you might have to worry about.
Next, what is the support response time that your provider is going to provide for you? If they say 24/7 support, what does that exactly mean? Does that mean you are going to have a voice mail response where you leave a message and wait for an answer or going to have live people there available by chat and email,who are actually responding to your needs? I don’t know about you, but when I am working on a Sunday at midnight, and I have a problem, I want them to call me right then. I don’t want to wait till Monday when it’s too late to meet my client’s demands. It’s critical that you have the people behind you when you have a problem.
Next, you want to understand the pricing policies or the pricing policies outline clearly, so you understand what you are paying for. Do you know when something is going to incur additional charge? Do you know how it’s computed, and when you are going to be billed? And can you get copies of the bills? You think that would be an easy thing to do, but sometimes you can’t even find out what you are paying and how it’s computed.
The next thing you need to know is that your service provider can actually configure a solution to meet your unique requirements. You want a box and an environment that does everything you need,no more or no less. If your requirements are unique and more complicated or process heavy, you want to make sure you get an environment configured that supports your business the way you need it. So, you want to also be able to configure based on users, computing power, storage capabilities, and RAM, and you want a device that meets your needs.
Finally, you really need to understand what kind of user experience this provider is going to provide you. It’s very critical that the users and your organizations can get the work done in the way that works for them. How easy is it going to be to get into the environment, to get your data migrated to that system, and then to work on a regular basis in that environment? Migrating data is something you need to be really clear on with that service provider. You need to understand what the services will be during that process and if there is going to an additional charge to move your data into that environment.
You also want to have access to training and support for all of your users again when you need it. The next thing you want to do is to check out the customer reviews so that you understand what people like you think about the system that you are considering. You want to go to Serchen; you want to go Google and Facebook and see what’s out there in the marketplace about that provider that you might be considering.
I don’t know about you, but I have actually been through a hosting provider problem. We actually had a ransomware attack when my data was stored in a private cloud. My data was down, my team was down, and there were other folks that had taxes that were unable to function.So, having a clear understanding of all these components is critical to your own business success and continuity.
In the next video of the series, Geni Whitehouse interviews Joanie Mann about the critical aspects of cloud hosting like infrastructure, security, and performance that you should know.
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