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Cloud computing, do you really know what it is exactly? Their are several sorts of cloud computing nowadays, that are becomming more popular every day. Making the final decision for selecting your (cloud) service provider can be difficult. There a so many variables you have to think about, and which provider is really better than the other one? They are all talking and looking good at first sight, but as every industry, there are bad, good and the best one's around. Sure pricing is important, but if you want to have a more long time, preferred partnership with your cloud partner, consider asking the 27 questions here below to your shortlist of companies. It might help you making the right and best decision.

Asking (parts) of these questions can help you select a good (cloud) service provider. A direct "Yes" answer, is without a doubt, always the best. The questions are covering almost everything from infrastructure, continuïty, (business)processes to people.  

The questions (infrastructure):

01: Can you provide me with some past case studies, testimonials and business cases from your current customers and the service that you delivered to them?

02: Do you have an existing (standard) design, for infrastructures and other (technical) services that you use for all your customers?

03: Do you own the complete line technical services infrastructure, and can you describe the agreed servicelevels of your (named)partners in this context? Involved are Datacenter locations, firewalls, routers, hardware, (fixed) IP numbers etc. etc.

04: Is your standard network based on MPLS? or VPLS?

05: Is your network multi-meshed for self-healing reasons?

06: Can you provide me with evidence of your last year (working)uptime level and what is your overall avarage score from last year?  

07: Do you have your (application)structures replicated over different geographical locations and what are those locations?

08: Can we visit your offices, and datacenter facilities?

09: Can you provide (additional)hosting, virtualisation, storage, data-lines and sip-trunks as an integrated service?

10: Can you provide me with the backup sequence and give me a copy of the results of the last 2 restore test?

11: Do you have a development, test, acceptance and production street in use, for the key applications and platform (software) upgrades, in order to have them implemented without any risk to our business operations?

12: Can you provide me, in details, the methods you are using to keep energy levels at the lowest possible level? 

13: Is there some kind of portal, where we can follow our (data)status and measure key metrics ourselves? 

The questions (general):

14: Can you deliver a 24/7/365 single point of support contact, where we can drop any question on various problems from data, software, voice, up to user errors.

15: Do you have (or own) a highly skilled engineers team, that is available 24/7/365. How many people reside in this team and do they cover the complete services area from network to software?

16: Is your organization based in multiple locations?

17: Is your organization certified/accredited for ITIL(x), Prince(x), IgSoC (Information Governance Statement of Compliance), ISO 9001 and/or ISO 27001? Until which dates are these certifications valid? And can you provide my a copy?

18: Once we choose for you, which additional services can you provide to us and does this cover the complete cloud suite in the future?

19: Can you ussure us, that we are fully informed within 24 hours when a security issue is detected?

20: Can you confirm that any question from our (internal/external) accountants, will be answered with 5 working days?

21: Can you assure us, that you never walk away from an issue, how severe it might be?

22: Can you assure us, that management will not change more than 20% in the next 3 years ahead?

The questions (people):

23: Can you provide me with a summary of the current (certificatiion)expertise level of your employees?

24: Can I meet managers, staff and engineers that will be responsible for managing and maintaining my data and services?

25: Can you provide me, roughly, with the internal (upgrade)training schedules of the enginering team that will be responsible for my data?

26: Can you provide me, your integration work program for people with handicaps and ensure that at least 1% of the total time used for my organization, will be done by one of those peoples?

27: Can you arrange that technical (implementation) support on-site, will be performed by a maximum of 5 people?

I hope the above questions will help you in selecting the best cloud service provider for your organization. See these questions as a starting point for making a first selection. No company or organization is the same and additional requirements may be necessary.

Ben Oostdam
Ben Oostdam has been working with Windows systems since 1993. Worked for several companies as a system administrator, and is currently a Senior Support Engineer & (Freelance) Trainer for a large company in the Netherlands.

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