If you attend any conference these days in the IT industry you are bound to be pitched by more than one cloud computing company. It can be quite sickening to hear from all these companies. Because of my unique background, I have had the privilege of hearing a lot of valid and “wanna-be” cloud providers out there. I would like to share some thoughts and warning signs to the kind of Cloud company that I would not be willing to invest money in or hand my clients data over to. Perhaps this will help you in your selection process.
- Former MSPs (For the most part) – I have seen scores of unsuccessful MSPs trying to get into the cloud game by forming a cloud offering composed of a very weak infrastructure, a weak management team, and a weak financial backing. I have not seen many viable cloud options from former MSPs that have not done at least $10 million in sales, prior to forming their cloud option. In fact I personally only know of one company, and they do not focus on reselling. These former MSP’s gone cloud provider, often make the claim of “knowing you” and as such are generally smooth talkers.
- Weak Management Team– Focus on the word “team”. High performance individuals that are all working together yet are focused on specific parts of the cloud business, not running another company. Just one or two high-performers will not cut it. I am not endorsing these organizations, but here are two examples below, of what I consider a high-performing and attractive management teams for a cloud computing company. Those are some excellent credentials. You are not looking at people here that run or have run an unsuccessful MSP and then took a stab at getting on the Cloud train, so they could prey on their fellow MSP’s.
- Poor Financial Capital – I heard a story a few years ago from a conference I was at. A man was asked how he chose the daycare for his child. He responded by saying that he chose the biggest one he could find. The thought logic being that the biggest one had the most to lose and therefore would treat his child the best and make sure they had the best people there. I am not saying one should have to go ask for financial reports from their cloud provider, but a little more scrutiny is definitely needed, especially if we are to trust the lifeblood of our clients’ data to these companies. I have heard of some cloud providers that could not financially hack it and then closed shop, without returning any data to its customers. I know of some cloud companies now that have horrible cash flow and are burning through money and they act like they are as stable as can be….and they are attracting lots of MSPs.
- Weak Security – This is such a broad topic. Whether the concern is: Data Segregation, Secure Access, Encryption, Authentication, Regulatory Compliance, Data Location, or a number of other things… security is important. I have visited with many cloud providers that frankly, scare me. It was pretty on the outside, but inside was a mess of security problems. I would spend some money on a security expert to vet a cloud provider that I was going to place my client’s data with. Cloud providers will tell you all manner of things to make you think their platform is secure.
- Unknown Backup Strategy – Not all cloud providers have a plan for backup, and that is OK, if you do not need that. But you need to know what happens if a virtual server goes down or a RAID fails, etc. Are you supposed to be performing a backup or do they have a strategy? Don’t just assume they are doing it. Get their SLA’s and Guarantees in writing, and make sure you are comfortable before setting your clients up there.
The need to make smart decisions is great in business and perhaps the decision could not be greater than choosing a cloud provider to port all your client’s data over to. There are a lot of smoke and mirrors in the industry right now over cloud computing. Be smart, and don’t follow the crowd, take your time and choose wisely!