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6. Can you run a test before you commit?
Don’t negotiate any long-term contracts for cloud storage before testing the capabilities of the system itself. What you want to find out is how easily you can restore data and how long it takes to back it up. So do a pilot with a small amount of data first. How quickly can you restore one file or all files? And how much does it cost?
“Choosing a provider should be no different than shopping for a car,” said Brenzel. “In other words, take it for a test drive, know the technology behind the offering and choose a company that has a sustainable business model, a proven track record and a stellar support staff within your budget.”
7. How much responsibility should you assume?
“The cloud is a shared responsibility meaning that users need to take adequate steps to make sure their data and applications are safe,” explained Schulz. “The providers will do so much, users also need to take shared responsibility.”
8. Are you being oversold?
Cloud providers often have slick assessment methods that calculate storage needs. These can sometimes utilize generous rates of predicted storage growth to highlight the potential dangers of buying just enough storage. But securing that additional space comes at a price — why pay for it until you really need it?
“Make sure the backup provider doesn’t try to oversell you on the amount of storage you require today but has the capability to grow as your business does,” added. Brenzel.
9. What added value is included?
Potential users should be asking what other value is included. Check out details like security, privacy, geography controls (your data doesn’t leave a given country), the performance levels, up-front costs and additional fees, along with what other software or tools will be needed.
“Free and freemium can sometimes be a fit; however, look beyond cost to see what you get in terms of value, including security, privacy, rights to your data that store,” cautioned Schulz. “Read the terms of service (TOS) or user license agreements to make sure you are aware of who retains rights to your data, or what you might be giving up, not to mention surprises such as if you use too much space or bandwidth will you be limited.”
10. How can we make money from the cloud?
Up till now, the cloud has been viewed mainly as a way to lower costs. But Nicos Veklarides, TwinStrata’s CEO feels that the cloud can also be monetized.
“2013 will highlight a key differentiator of cloud storage, aside from providing cost and administrative advantages over traditional storage: the ability for organizations to use their data to grow their business,” he said. “The concept of data monetization is mature and well-understood, but not easily attainable. With on-demand cloud infrastructure, the logistics of harnessing data to improve business revenues become much simpler. Look for targeted solutions emerging in the coming year.”