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5 ways to tell a cloud poser from a cloud pro

Adam Stewart, vice president of engineering, Autotask | Nov. 27, 2014
Buyer beware: There are plenty of companies vying for your business that claim to be cloud pros.

Who would you trust more to fix your car, a licensed mechanic or a guy who once saw someone do an oil change? The choice should be simple. But surprisingly, the debate over trusting an expert versus someone who claims to be an expert happens every day across all industries, so it shouldn't be shocking that the debate rages in the cloud, too.

Cloud computing enables people and companies to access applications from any computer. But the cloud has created a new group of cloud posers -- inexperienced software developers who make bold (and often untrue) claims about the performance of the cloud-based applications they manage. While on the surface they may seem like a good choice to support your business, once you start asking smart questions, a cloud poser's true colors (and lack of expertise) will quickly be revealed.

To help steer clear of the storm clouds, here are five questions you can ask to distinguish a cloud poser from a cloud pro.

* Four 9s or five? Reliable access to your business' email, billing and other systems is essential to efficient business operations. As more companies transition important aspects of their businesses to the cloud, they'll want to know they'll have the same access in the cloud as if their systems were on-premises.

Cloud posers know this so, to reel you in, they often make unrealistic claims about uptime. If someone promises you "five 9s" (99.999%) of uptime which equates to only 5 minutes of downtime each year -- you're talking to a cloud poser. While 99.999% availability sounds appealing, it's just not realistic. A cloud pro never promises more than four 9s (99.99%) of network availability.

* Are you compliant with industry standards? Regulatory compliance is essential and so is being able to prove you're compliant. Cloud posers may not see the need to have their records validated by a third-party auditor, but cloud pros know it's a requirement and will make available third-party auditors' reports on their performance. It's part of doing business for legitimate cloud providers.

* Have you ever had a security breach? Transitioning to the cloud requires companies to hand over control and protection of their data to someone else, which can be scary. A cloud poser will claim to have never had a breach and will avoid talking about the steps they should be actively taking to prevent a breach. By contrast, cloud pros are eager to tell you about what they do to prevent a breach things like third party penetration tests. They know past performance doesn't predict future performance -- what's important are the measures the company continues to take as threat vectors continue to evolve.


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