1) Look over the pricing plans carefully

Cloud services are great because they are scalable, and you only have to pay for what you need to use at the moment. So before you sign up for anything, make sure that you are not tying yourself down with any contractual obligations that takes this flexibility away. Go through the pricing plans carefully and ask the sales representative if there are any upfront payments or other miscellaneous charges. Ideally, you should go for a cloud service provider who offers more flexibility with their pricing plans, especially if you foresee your company growing in numbers over the next few years.

2) Read up all about the company providing the service

When you engage a cloud service provider, you are essentially including another company in your business workflow and trusting them with critical data. That is a huge responsibility, so you need to make sure that you sign up with a reliable partner. Read up on the company background, history and reviews from their customers. These should give you a pretty good inkling on whether they are reliable or not.

The thing about engaging the services of a third party is that should anything happen to them, you will experience a service disruption too. So when you are selecting a cloud service provider, be sure to choose one that has minimal downtime history. Look through reviews on the Internet or news articles about the company to gauge how often its services are disrupted.

3) Analyse the provider’s security measures

Some businesses require very basic data security, while others require something more secure due to the sensitive nature of their business. Think about what kind of protection your business needs, then assess the Service Level Agreement to see if it addresses how the company will rectify the problem should there be any data losses. Read the privacy policy through very carefully to see if it gives you the level of security your business needs. Lastly, make sure that the company protects its physical facilities from break-ins and natural disasters such as fires or floods.

4) Ask about what kind of support you will be getting

It is not uncommon to see IT vendors who are only after profits and sales in this industry. Such vendors will be hard to work with and you will face a lot of issues with your new technology. Save yourself the trouble and go with a cloud service provider that gives you better technical support instead. It may cost a little bit more, but bear in mind that a service-oriented provider gives you the assurance of minimal downtime for your company, which means that your productivity will increase.

If your company is migrating the whole IT infrastructure to the cloud, you would require a fair bit of technical support. Make sure that the service provider is experienced in this so that the integration is done properly, or you will find yourself facing a host of IT issues down the road.

5) Make use of the free trial period if there is one

Some service providers, such as Google Apps for Business, offers a 30-day free trial. So before you decide on which cloud service provider to go with, ask if they offer a trial period. This way, you can get first-hand experience on how their apps work and decide if fits your business needs.

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