3 tips for selecting your cloud computing provider

Transitioning to cloud computing can be a challenge, the first of which is selecting the right provider for your needs. According to a recent MYOB survey, nearly 30 per cent of SMEs did not know enough about the issues around cloud computing to make the right business decisions about it and 16 per cent were unsure who had ownership of business data in the cloud.

Given the lack of knowledge around this technology, here are a few tips by MYOB to help make that transition into the cloud easier.

Shop around for trustworthy cloud service providers

When researching providers, look beyond their business website and read reviews on independent websites, review blogs and industry publications. You should also consider asking IT consultants, financial advisors and fellow SME owners to get a sense of the provider's credibility, technology expertise and reputation. It's also a good idea to ask what their support services entail and what type of e-learning or training they provide.

Buy the level you need

Depending on your needs, you may need varying levels of cloud computing, which can range from first generation to next generation. First generation refers to Software as a Service (SaaS) model, which enables you to operate an application via a web browser. As long as you have a computer connected to the Internet, you'll be able to use first generation cloud computing, which includes business banking, email, online accounting software and Salesforce.

Other types include next generation cloud computer or Platform as a Service (PaaS), which enables the user to create web applications or software using tools from the provider, such as Google App Engine or Windows Azure. By determining what your needs are you will be able to sign up with the appropriate provider.

Compare different models

Just like buying insurance policies, you should also compare the different cloud models out there and their respective costs and benefits. SaaS models are generally cheaper than PaaS models, but if you're interested in accessing your data online and offline 24-7, then PaaS might be better for your business.

Investigate security practices

Since you're storing your data via a third-party provider, security should be paramount especially when it comes to sensitive information. Research the provider's security procedures and policies; and ask them about video surveillance, personnel access control, firewalls, anti-virus protection and disaster recovery.

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