While opting for a cloud service provider, what are the parameters that you look for? Is it the pricing plans, the support, or the SLA?
Of course! All these are essential and should be considered while choosing a cloud provider. But there are certain parameters that the businesses ignore. However, these are the foundation of every cloud hosting service.
1. Importance of Data Center Location and Partners
Providing the best cloud services depends on where and how the data is being kept. That’s why choosing the cloud provider with the best data center partners is very important. The data centers are large buildings designed specifically to keep numerous servers in an optimum state.
The data centers should offer the best hosting conditions for servers such as the right levels of cooling and power. Advanced security is another aspect that the data center is expected to deploy.
Based on these parameters, we can classify the data centers in 4 classes –
- Tier 1
- Tier 2
- Tier 3
- Tier 4
Tier 4 data centers are best-in-class with specifications such as 99.995 percent uptime, redundant equipment, and fully fault-tolerant systems.
|Availability Measure||Downtime Per Year||Downtime Per Week|
|90% (one nine)||36.5 days||16.8 hours|
|99% (two nines)||3.65 days||1.68 hours|
|99.9% (three nines)||8.76 hours||10.1 minutes|
|99.99% (four nines)||52.6 minutes||1.01 minutes|
|99.995% (four and a half nines)||26.28 minutes||30.24 seconds|
|99.999% (five nines)||5.25 minutes||6.05 seconds|
|99.9999% (six nines)||31.5 seconds||604.8 ms|
You should choose a cloud provider with Tier-3 or Tier-4 certified data center partners to ensure state-of-the-art infrastructure for your data.
The location of the data center is another factor that you should keep in mind when talking about data centers. There is no doubt that most data centers ensure low latency routes for data transmission. However, if you have a choice to choose a data center close to your location, go with it.
It is always preferable that the data travels through fewer networks points before it reaches your end-point device. Moreover, there are certifications like SAS-70 and SSAE-16 that tell you if the data center is compliant with the required standards and protocols.
2. High-Performance Computing System
Cloud computing is nothing but a group of servers functioning together to offer you their shared capabilities over the Internet. If the cloud servers are not able to offer the processing power required, all other services associated with cloud become inconsequential.
If you are experiencing slowness while accessing the servers or the server hangs in between an ongoing task, you would barely care about the discounts and extra storage.
Keeping this in mind, it is necessary that the servers responsible for processing your data are the most advanced hardware available. There are high-performance multi-core and multi-CPU processors that ensure seamless processing of data.
Any number of applications can run simultaneously in a High-Performance Computing (HPC) system without any lag as the processing is carried out parallelly.
It is also vital to ensure what kind of storage is offered for the storage of your data. Along with high-performance servers, you should look for cloud providers that offer SSD storage. The solid-state drive is much faster than any other storage devices like HDD.
HPC ensures that the data is always available to you as it is unlikely to fail no matter how much data it has to process. Load Balancing is another aspect that the cloud provider is expected to implement in their cloud infrastructure.
Load balancing is not an option but an absolute necessity. As the cloud involves a group of servers, the traffic incident on the servers should be distributed efficiently so that no server gets overloaded.
3. Enterprise-level Security Features
A secure cloud provider is a successful one. However, it is not that easy to build a cloud environment with foolproof security. Various security safeguards need to be deployed and countless protocols that should be followed.
Also, it is paramount to ensure security at every level of the cloud architecture. There should be security protocols implemented at the physical level in the data center, at the network level, as well as the administrative level.
Here are some security procedures that every cloud service provider should incorporate in the cloud infrastructure.
a) Physical Security
The data center should be well-equipped with all the latest equipment to detect any unauthorized access. This can include 24/7 camera surveillance, onsite security personnel, biometric scan, ID cards, retina scan, and more. There should be multiple security checks at different levels of entry so that unauthorized access becomes practically impossible.
Other than unauthorized access, the data also faces a threat from certain environmental factors. There could be a fire accident in the data center, or the power grid could be affected by a disaster.
Smoke detectors, flood detectors, and alternative power sources are some of the security equipment that ensures the data center is capable of detecting and fighting against any catastrophe.
b) Network Security
Offering a secure network should be one of the primary objectives of a cloud service provider. As the cloud is all about remote access, the data transmission from the cloud server to the end-point device is constant.
It is important to constantly monitor the large amounts of data going in and out of the network. The cloud service providers deploy multiple firewalls in the network, both hardware as well as software, to ensure that same. The Intrusion Detection and Prevention System (IDS & IPS) ensures that malicious data is identified and not allowed to enter the system.
With the help data encryption, the data can be transmitted in encrypted form so that it does not get compromised. Multi-factor authentication is another safety measure which forces the user to authenticate with multiple methods. Even if one login credentials of the user are compromised, the unauthorized user would need another credential as well.
c) Administrative Security
Shouldn’t the access to files for HR personnel be different from the accounting department?
Administrative Security involves the deployment of an access control system that restricts the access to the server to only the authorized users. Access control includes the setting of roles and permissions for different users according to their process.
Moreover, the physical access to different sections of a data center should be restricted in accordance with the responsibilities of the staff.
4. Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery
a) Business Continuity
The continuity of your business process is vital for the success of your company. A Business Continuity Plan should be implemented by every cloud provider that makes the business process available to you at all times.
A Business Continuity Plan should include procedures and protocols to follow in case of a crisis. The risks involved with the business operation should be identified and prioritized according to their severity. Any scenario that can cause harm to the business process, whether minor or critical, is termed as a disruptive event.
After the risks are identified, proper guidelines should be documented to avoid panic during an unforeseen disruptive event. A dedicated team should be deployed consisting of knowledgeable and skilled professionals that can design an ironclad business continuity plan.
Nowadays, the major cloud providers in the market are offering 99.999 percent availability to the customers. This means negligible downtime of a few minutes in a year. To make such a high uptime possible, the cloud providers have to deploy high redundancy at the infrastructure level.
They cannot afford malfunction of hardware to be the reason for any downtime to the customers. Hence, with the deployment of redundant infrastructure, even if one hardware fails, there is another one to take its place.
b) Disaster Recovery
To further optimize the protection of your business process, the cloud provider should deploy disaster recovery plan comprising all the methods to safeguards your data in case of a disaster.
Imagine what would happen if the data center becomes a victim of a natural disaster such as an earthquake. No matter the level of redundancy you deploy in the data center, if the entire facility is hampered, the data will be lost.
To counter such a situation, the data is backed up on different data centers across multiple geographies. Hence, your data is still secure even if the entire data center is affected.
To Wrap It Up
These were some of the major aspects that are essential for every cloud provider for offering their services, and every business should consider while choosing a cloud service provider.
Where the data is kept is how it is kept is important. Hence, the data centers in which your data is kept should be state-of-the-art. Also, the security of data is a must. The security should be multi-layered and at every point in the network. Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery facilitates the total availability of the business process.
Hence, before choosing a cloud service provider, make sure you evaluate their cloud environment first.
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