Tips on Selecting a Cloud Management Partner

Netgain Blog TeamCloud Computing

We get this question a lot:: what exactly is cloud technology, anyway?

Microsoft, the de facto standard in cloud delivery, defines cloud technology as “the delivery of computing services—servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, and more—over the Internet (“the cloud”). Companies offering these computing services are called cloud providers and typically charge for cloud computing services based on usage, similar to how you’re billed for water or electricity at home.”

Why do I need a Cloud Management provider?

Cloud computing has been around as long as the internet, but only recently (ten or so years) started gaining momentum. Organizations of every size and industry have found that in order to deploy a cloud solution that is highly secure, available, and reliable, they need a team of technologists that specialize in multiple areas.

For instance, an organization who is looking to migrate their IT environment to the cloud would likely need to employ technologists who specialize in servers, networking, storage, support, and other areas.

If that same organization partners with a cloud management provider, they don’t need to employ that whole team of specialists, and they still have access to that depth of knowledge through their cloud management partner.

Cloud management partners add value with their industry expertise, security focus, breadth of specialists, economies of scale, and in so many other ways.

What questions should I ask my Cloud provider?
If you’re considering migrating some or all of your environment to a cloud platform, it can be overwhelming to know what questions to ask. Here are the top questions we recommend asking when evaluating potential cloud management providers:

  1. How many cloud migrations have you done?
    Depth and breadth of experience matters, especially in this piece of your business, which is critical to your operations. Ensure your potential cloud provider has been in the business for 10+ years and has ample experience with cloud migrations like yours.
  2. How many Office 365 migrations have you done?
    Similarly, if you’re using Office 365, discuss this with your provider and ensure they have experience in migrating this type of information.
  3. How do you handle cloud data migration?
    Again, experience matters. Has your cloud management partner migrated sensitive and regulated data to the cloud before? What hiccups did they face? What’s their process? What time of day do they do the migration?
  4. What cloud technology do you use?
    Have they partnered with other organizations to deliver parts of their cloud environment? If so, these partners may also be bound by Business Associate Agreements.
  5. Are your cloud services public, private or hybrid?
    Different types of cloud services offer different benefits. Also, different types of data may call for different types of cloud services. For example, public cloud services may be a good fit for your email platform. Conversely, your Electronic Health Record (EHR) or accounting applications will require a private environment with dedicated resources.
  6. What is your cloud migration project plan?
    Determine the plan, deliverables, what they expect from you, the timeline and any other details you can about the cloud migration project plan. If they’ve been in the business for a long time, they’ll have a detailed project plan for you to review and agree to.
  7. How many organizations of our size and specialty have you migrated to the cloud?
    Choosing a provider who has worked with other organizations of similar size and industry can be wildly helpful. Healthcare and financial services cloud management providers like Netgain gain expertise over time in various applications like EHR, QuickBooks and CCH, and can add additional value in those areas.
  8. What is your SLA?
    Request a copy of their Service Level Agreement (SLA) before selecting a cloud management provider. Further, ask what the penalties are if they violate their SLA or fall below availability standards.
  9. What are your security offerings?
    Security is one of the biggest drivers to the cloud. Talk to your cloud management partner about their security offerings. Do they offer layered security, two-factor authentication, encrypted email, Security Risk Analysis…?

The cloud has so much to offer healthcare  and financial services organizations like increased security, lowered operating costs, and better user experience. Partnering with a cloud management provider can be the key to your organization’s success (or be a detriment) in the cloud.  A good, experienced provider can add much more value than simply migrating your environment to the cloud. Do your research, build the relationship, ask the right questions, and we’ll see you in the cloud!