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Your checklist for choosing a cloud provider

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The cloud can be great for business. It helps to cut costs, streamline processes, and eliminates the need for hardware and in-house IT. It also makes working and collaborating remotely easier—a bonus for small businesses growing quickly.

With so many cloud services to choose from, how do you find the one that’s right for your business?

Below is a checklist to help bring the cloud back down to earth.

✓ Understand security in the cloud

Cloud computing security refers to a set of procedures, processes and standards designed to provide information assurance for virtual IP, data, applications and services in a cloud computing environment.1 While this is the responsibility of the cloud provider, it’s good to know the basics of what goes into protecting your data.

Know who is responsible for your security

No matter which of the three most popular cloud services you choose—Software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) or Platform as a Service (PaaS)—each comes with its own set of security practices. Some cloud service customers mistakenly believe that when they migrate to the cloud, their cloud security responsibilities also shift.2 Depending upon the provider, the responsibility for setting up, managing and operating the cloud system may differ, meaning that there could be gaps in security.

There is often a shared responsibility when it comes to security. In general, providers are responsible for security of the cloud and customers are responsible for security in the cloud.3

Avoid costly surprises like security breaches; before committing to a service, understand what responsibilities lie with your business and which are taken care of by your vendor. Then, work hand-in-hand to ensure that your security obligations are met.

Be aware of the risk

Just because you can’t see the cloud, doesn’t mean others can’t. There are a number of security threats associated with cloud data services. You still run the risk of traditional security threats, such as network eavesdropping, illegal invasion, and denial of service attacks. On top of that, you may also face specific cloud computing threats, like reduced visibility and control, unauthorized user, incomplete data deletion, and more.4

Tip: Select a provider who knows how to spot and control these security risks. When it comes to defense, a good provider will offer malware and anti-virus scans, spyware detection and removal, and regular maintenance for office PCs, servers, copiers and other hardware.5 To make sure that you have a comprehensive approach to cloud security, be sure that you understand which security features are included and excluded, and those that can be added after setup.

Check the SLAs

In an emergency, response time is critical. Choose a provider that offers a written service level agreement that outlines how they’ll handle a crisis. Look for an SLA that responds to security incidents with notifications that get the message to you right away and advise of the next steps. Not only should the notification system satisfy your business needs and put your mind at ease, it must also comply with applicable laws and regulations governing security breach notifications.

You’ll also want to be sure that your provider offers live 24/7 customer service that connects you to a human (not a chatbot) to get your situation resolved ASAP. Remember that you can work with your provider to set availability guarantees and penalties within your SLA. This keeps your provider accountable and working with your business’s best interest in mind.6

Be choosey

While most business owners opt for a single provider, you don’t have to. Some experts think that a multi-cloud strategy allows their business to be more resilient and secure.7 So, shop around and consider taking an à la carte approach if that’s what works best for your operational and cloud security needs.

The cloud is closer than you think

When you’re thinking about cloud services, think beyond data storage. There are many cloud-based services available that you’re likely already familiar with. Perhaps start by upgrading the way you communicate with your colleagues and customers with Hosted PBX—a cost-effective and user-friendly office phone system that works from anywhere. Or, get smarter connectivity and peace of mind with Managed Wi-Fi. Both are cloud-based solutions from Cogeco that improve, and protect, your business.

Find your cloud 9 at cogeco.ca/business cogeco.ca/business.

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