Guest article: 7 things every business should consider when selecting cloud storage and backup providers

By Business & Finance
06 February 2019
cloud storage

When setting up a cloud storage provider, there are several necessities that need to be considered before making a decision.

Selecting a cloud storage provider merits serious consideration, however, you should always start with the most important question: how important is your data to your business? Every other consideration flows out of that initial question.

Product security

Data security is paramount, as is an understanding of any compliance obligations. Start with getting a clear understanding of the responsibility of each entity and how the provider meets theirs, including the location of decryption keys, two factor authentications, role-based access controls, encryption in transit and at rest as well as platform level protection such as DDOS, IPS\IDS. Providers should offer monitoring and visibility for all data interactions with cloud storage\backup. Data location should be considered if there are compliance obligations that require data sovereignty.

 Vendor pedigree

The wide array of start-up cloud storage and backup providers on the market helps widen the choice for customers, however, consideration should be given as to the risks of those without a proven pedigree in providing these services. What happens if these companies fail? Does the provider have good customer service, standards and certifications, and can they provide evidence of these? Can the provider offer customer references, white papers, reference architectures, etc.? Does the provider offer migration services and service roadmaps?

Service exit

A key driver for adopting the cloud is the agility it offers, but that should extend not only to onboarding but also to exiting the service. Organisations should be wary of the possibility of vendor lock-in and whether the service inhibits the ability to move data to a different location, service or provider.

Functional product features

Consideration should be given to the functional features that you need, such as:

  • Archive
  • Object, block and file storage
  • File sharing and synchronisation
  • File versioning
  • Support for SOAP and REST
  • Support for various access requirements (public or private connectivity)

To achieve this, a detailed understanding of your requirements is required. The more mature providers out there will be able to provide professional services to help assess business needs and provide an overview of these functional requirements.

Non-functional product features

Consideration should be given to the functional features that you need. Having the ability to measure the service you are receiving from the provider through a variety of criteria allows you to make informed decisions about the quality of the service, such as availability, scalability, performance, manageability, integration, professional resources and, of course, cost.

Technical/architectural expertise

The provider needs to be able to implement a solution that meets your environmental and data needs. One major example is having the right solution for your organisation’s volume of data: enterprise-scale backup must account for hundreds of terabytes of data, whereas SMB data volumes are typically below 10TB.

Similarly, backing up from multiple sites versus one large site is going to be different. One thing to consider when choosing a provider is designing the network to make sure you have reliable connectivity and bandwidth for backups to be completed successfully within your backup windows

Offers solutions that meet your business and cost requirements

The solution should match your business requirements: Is the backup going to be used only for data / file restores or for recovery in the event of a disaster? Does your provider have the expertise to recover your business from that data? What are the recovery time objectives achievable for recovering from that backed up data? Does your business require the ability to restore locally in addition to storing data remotely in the cloud? Can your provider offer the flexibility and scalability of the public cloud for long term data retention? Are you looking for fully managed backups (since you don’t have the skills internally) or for self-service backups?

Carmel Owens, Sales Director Cloud Services EMEA (Public / Hybrid Cloud, DRaaS) at Sungard Availability Services.