It’s no wonder why businesses are moving their essential IT apps to the cloud.
When they compare the cost of owning and managing their own infrastructure—which includes buying servers, licensing software, hiring people to administer and paying for real estate, electricity and air conditioning—it makes sense to offload those costs in exchange for a predictable monthly fee.
Unfortunately, there are other costs associated with cloud services. Many businesses don’t even think about them until it’s too late—because once you’re learning the hard way, it’s often too much trouble to pivot to another provider.
That’s why you should know what to look for before you sign a contract. Here are six costs that often surprise businesses—and the questions you can ask to avoid them:
1. The cost of migrating data to the new service. You might think data migration is free. But if you have to do it yourself, it will cost the valuable time of your IT staff. And what if you need assistance? Some providers may only help for a fee, and others will refer you to a third-party consultant. So make sure you ask about data migration, and make sure your provider will includes white-glove service for free.
2. The cost of downtime imposed by low reliability. Many providers promise 99.9% uptime. While this may sound good, it actually adds up to more than 525 minutes of unplanned downtime per year. Consider the cost of downtime—angry customers, lost sales, diverted IT resources—and make sure you settle for no less than a 99.999% uptime service level agreement (which is less than 30 seconds of unscheduled downtime a month).
3. The cost of not getting enough support. Your support teams can’t be productive if they’re on hold or floundering about for ideas within self-help support portals. However, many providers only offer phone support for critical or tier 2 issues. A good support plan will include 24/7 live support, short hold times, and skilled, certified staff.
4. The cost of sub-par security and protection. Where security is concerned, you must be confident that your business cloud provider has you covered. Make sure you get the nitty-gritty details on security procedures from your provider and insist on enterprise-class security from well-known partners.
5. The cost of management inefficiency. Your cloud management console should be powerful enough to support your IT needs, but simple enough to use that you can easily use it. Otherwise your IT staff is wasting precious time on tasks that should be trivial. Make sure you get a solution that balances ease-of-use with granular control to avoid imposing undue labour costs on your IT team.
6. The cost of services that lack integration. Your business is probably adding more and more cloud services. But as you add more services, you introduce more support, billing and management complexities. And so you end up in a tangle of services that you have to untie. Compare this to top providers with integrations that let you share user and device settings across services. Without this, the cost of managing your IT can skyrocket.
Choose your cloud provider carefully.
As the customer, you have a choice. Choose a cloud-based IT services provider that offers you transparent and worry-free service. Insist on getting the full range of services with no hidden costs, including migration, security and management.
Make it easy for your IT staff to get the support they need: look for 24/7 phone and chat support for admins, handled by expert staff. And don’t settle when it comes to the service level agreement: make sure it includes “five nines” uptime. That way, you can focus on growing your business.