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7 Essential Questions You MUST Ask a Cloud Provider

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Group of businesspeople  at a conference tableSelecting the right cloud provider to move your on-premises business intelligence (BI) solution to the cloud can be a crucial decision. Making the wrong choice can derail your cloud implementation and serve as a major setback for your business.

There are seven essential questions you MUST ask each cloud provider you’re considering. The answers will help you choose a provider that can meet your unique needs and will help you understand how your BI solution will work in the cloud.

1. Will the cloud scale as needed?

Your cloud solution needs to be extendable. If your BI solution is running slow because there are more users or more network traffic than anticipated, your cloud provider should be able to add more capacity on demand. Similarly, you should be able to reduce capacity as needed.

2. How will BI data be secured?

BI data is typically very sensitive — and that data must never be accessed by the wrong people, both inside and outside the organization. Accidentally exposing HR data containing employees’ names, salaries, and social security numbers to another department is just as serious as having a hacker gain access to it. You need to make sure that the cloud provider addresses all aspects of data security, including managing security at the user level.

3. How will the data transfers be secured?

In your cloud-based BI solution, data will be transferred between the cloud and your company’s computers. The cloud provider you select should ensure that these data transfers are secure. In addition, if you allow users to connect to the cloud using their own personal devices, these data transfers need to be secured as well.

4. How will regulatory compliance be ensured?

Many companies need to comply with government or industry regulations such as the Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) Act of 2002 or Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). If your company falls into this category, you need to make sure that the cloud provider will comply with those regulations.

5. What are the guaranteed uptime and bandwidth levels?

The cloud provider should guarantee a certain amount of uptime and bandwidth based on your expectations in a service level agreement (SLA). If your BI solution needs to run 24/7, but the cloud provider shuts down its systems for an hour every Saturday for maintenance, your expectations won’t be met.

You should also let the provider know what kind of latency can be tolerated, especially during backups or heavy use. Do you need to have every report complete within five seconds, five minutes, or five hours? Is that possible with the proposed cloud solution?

6. What additional costs might there be?

A cloud solution might seem affordable until you start adding up all the additional costs associated with exceeding thresholds. Cloud providers can set thresholds in SLAs, such as the number of users accessing the cloud, the amount of storage space consumed, and the amount of bandwidth used. Inquire about additional costs for exceeding thresholds so you don’t get a nasty surprise on your monthly bill.

7. How often are upgrades performed?

Find out how often the cloud provider performs upgrades and the extent of those upgrades. You’ll want to select a cloud provider that keeps its software and systems up-to-date. However, keep in mind that if your cloud provider makes frequent, drastic updates that change its look and feel, you’ll have to retrain all your employees on how to use it each time.

Make an informed decision

A cloud BI solution can provide incredible flexibility, productivity, and agility for your business. But before you make such a significant investment, ask these seven questions that can help you select the cloud provider that’s best suited to host your company’s BI solution.

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