With more and more organisations adopting cloud computing technologies and digital transformation strategies, cloud services have become ubiquitous for businesses of all sizes.
However, for many businesses, especially small to mid-sized enterprises, migrating to the cloud has been challenging, mostly because building and maintaining their own cloud infrastructure comes with massive upfront investments and increased labour and management costs.
That’s where Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) come in. They enable businesses to leverage the power of the cloud without the footprint.
There are many Cloud Service Providers, so choosing the right one for your business needs may not be straightforward.
This guide aims to help you select a Cloud Service Provider that’s capable of meeting your requirements and providing a secure environment for your business processes.
What is a Cloud Service Provider (CSP)?
A Cloud Service Provider is a company that offers cloud computing services, such as cloud Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Back-up as a Service (BaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS). Cloud computing enables organisations to benefit from scalable, efficient, flexible, and secure internet-based services that help them grow and cut costs.
Cloud Service Providers deliver these services by hosting the infrastructure in their own data centres. For an organisation, cloud services are more affordable as most of them are based on a pay-as-you-go subscription model that can be scaled up or down without requiring infrastructure setup, upgrades, or downgrades.
What Are the Solutions That Cloud Service Providers Offer?
Below are some of the managed services that CSPs provide. Some cloud infrastructure services offerings include all of these, while others specialise in one or more of them.
Whether your business is in the launch phase or you’re trying to scale your existing business, leveraging cloud hosting enables you to gain extensive benefits such as flexibility, scalability, accessibility, and cost efficiency.
There are two types of hosting: dedicated and virtual machine hosting.
Dedicated hosting means that you’ll be able to fully utilise the server’s resources since no other businesses share them with you. It’s best suited when high performance and computing power are crucial for your applications.
On the other hand, virtual machine (VM) hosting presents a more affordable alternative for small to mid-sized businesses. In VM hosting, your applications will be hosted on a virtual shared server alongside other businesses’ applications.
Cloud-Based Storage as a Service
Storage as a Service (STaaS) enables you to rent storage space from a cloud provider with a monthly or annual subscription fee. In STaaS, the customer determines how much storage space they need, and the provider will assign it to their organisation.
Since you don’t need to build your own storage systems on-premises and invest in infrastructure and upgrades to host your production site, STaaS offers various advantages for your organisation, such as scalability and cost-effectiveness.
STaaS also enables the implementation of effective DRaaS (Disaster Recovery as a Service) and backup solutions with backup/archive storage. You may also combine both production and backup storage services to host your production and backup sites.
Server colocation services comprise hosting your organisation’s servers, network hardware, and storage in a data centre facility for the purpose of maintaining your IT infrastructure in a centralised location to improve security, redundancy, and connectivity.
Cloud connectivity involves establishing an internet connection between a private network and a public cloud. Cloud connectivity is affordable, efficient, flexible, secure, and easily accessible from anywhere, making it a favourable choice for many organisations that need to store data remotely.
Since cloud providers incorporate advanced security measures for their cloud connectivity services, they present excellent opportunities for businesses to securely store critical data and protect it from cyberattacks.
There are multiple cloud hosting options to choose from depending on your requirements, including public, hybrid, and private cloud environments.
What Are the Benefits of Using a Cloud Service Provider?
Cloud service platform providers bring various benefits to your organisation, which can be summarised in the following key points.
Cloud Service Providers charge you based on what you consume; no more, no less. For example, adopting a SaaS product likely means that you’ll be charged a single monthly subscription fee that matches your company’s size and requirements.
In contrast to expanding your IT team or building custom software with a third-party software development agency, the costs here are significantly less.
Closing the Skill Gap
If you have skill gaps in internal IT skills, it can be challenging to design a suitable cloud infrastructure for your business, leaving you no choice but to hire more team members to overcome these skill gaps.
Your best bet here is to partner with a Cloud Service Provider that eliminates the need to expand your IT team and incur additional monthly costs. You’ll be able to access state-of-the-art cloud computing services without having to design a cloud environment on-premises.
When choosing a Cloud Service Provider, ensure they have the resources needed to implement cutting-edge security measures to secure the infrastructure that hosts your data.
Many organisations simply don’t have the resources required to provide the same level of security as major Cloud Service Providers. Not to mention, the cloud-based services companies will take care of important security patches and maintenance, translating to less management and maintenance overhead for your IT team.
Scalable Storage Options
Building your own storage infrastructure is costly, time-consuming, and expensive. On-premises storage is also pretty restrictive; scaling up or down means that you’ll have to incur significant additional upgrade costs.
With cloud providers, you don’t have to worry about any storage limitations. Choose the storage capacity that suits your requirements and increase or decrease the capacity on demand with no effort or infrastructure upgrade costs.
Focus on Revenue-Driving Business Initiatives
The initial investment of setting up infrastructure on-premises isn’t the only thing you need to worry about; it basically means that you’re signing up for long-term resource commitments that you may not be ready for.
Cloud Service Providers enable you to utilise highly capable cloud services without the footprint. This enables you to direct your resources to more important business activities that help you grow your business and increase your ROI.
Organisations that utilise cloud computing service benefit from reliable cloud services with guaranteed uptime and round-the-clock tech support. This provides a better experience for your customers since they’ll be able to consistently access and use your services with little to no downtime.
Reputable Cloud Service Providers are continuously developing their strategies to improve service availability and resilience. Choosing the right cloud provider will help you keep pace with the latest technological trends in cloud computing and future-proof your operations.
The services and resources of Cloud Service Providers enable you to remotely access their services and resources independent of location. All you need here is an active internet connection, which improves productivity and accessibility in remote and hybrid work environments.
Opting for a Cloud Service Provider allows you to centralise your services and applications in one place, which improves accessibility for your organisation. This also makes collecting and analysing data and resources a much less resource-intensive task.
What Are the Criteria to Use When Selecting a Cloud Service Provider?
There are various factors that you need to keep in mind when choosing a long-term Cloud Service Provider for your organisation. These include:
Security and Compliance
Security is one of the biggest concerns for modern organisations. When working with a cloud infrastructure provider, you need to make sure they implement robust security measures that guarantee the safety of their infrastructure and your sensitive data.
Evaluate the provider’s security infrastructure and check if they have properly documented processes and policies for identity management, data backups and retention, business continuity, incident response, and physical security.
Additionally, selecting a Cloud Service Provider that utilises Australian data centres and a regional data centre network will help you meet data governance, sovereignty, and compliance requirements.
Another differentiator to consider is the level of administration support you get as part of managed services offerings. This includes performance reports and resource monitoring, in addition to:
- Service Level Agreements (SLAs). The provider must be capable of promising a basic service level that meets your organisation’s requirements.
- Support with billing-related issues. Automated billing and accounting are important for avoiding bill shocks.
When comparing different top cloud platform providers, evaluate how open each provider’s ecosystem is. Ideally, you’d want to avoid cloud providers that rely on proprietary solutions as they don’t match the technical needs of modern businesses.
A provider with an open ecosystem will be able to offer more options to build, migrate, and deploy applications across multiple environments, both on-premises or in the cloud. For example, an open provider will give you more choices in operating systems than a provider with a closed ecosystem.
While cost shouldn’t be the only factor that influences your choice of CSP, it’s still vital to consider the direct and indirect costs of using the service.
It’s also important to assess the provider’s financial health and see if they have a proven track record that displays stability and strong financial positioning. This helps you evaluate whether the provider will be able to effectively meet your organisation’s cloud computing needs in the long term.
When considering a Cloud Service Provider, auditing their business processes is important to establish trust. For example, you need to make sure the provider has a formal management structure and a documented process for evaluating third-party vendors and creating risk assessment and management policies.
Moreover, you should discuss your business requirements with the provider and ensure that they understand them 100% to get a better idea of their technical expertise and knowledge.
Cloud Service Providers capable of demonstrating compliance with your requirements with a third-party audit are highly favourable too.
Technical capabilities encompass the provider’s ability to enable convenient application deployment, cloud management, support cloud migration and upgrades. This is made possible with standard APIs and data transforms.
Also, make sure that the provider has a formal and documented process for event and change management along with its monitoring system.
It might also be important for you to inquire whether the provider is capable of or plans to offer hybrid cloud deployments. Even if you don’t need this now, your organisation may consider utilising this cloud model in the future for its benefits.
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