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Does Your Cloud Provider Really Matter?

By: Kayla Matthews on September 30, 2019

If your company needs to purchase a cloud solution soon, you're probably already aware that there are numerous providers to consider.

But, getting deep into the research process may lead you to conclude what necessities you need from a provider, and what you don't. Let's look at some of the factors that you may need to pay attention to. Or those you don't.

Data Center Location Could Impact Regional Performance

If your customer base extends all over the world or to certain areas, make sure your data center provider has a presence in the places that match most users' locations. Doing that can improve the performance and reliability of cloud-based services.

Research from CB Insights found that Microsoft Azure has the most global regional data centers. More specifically, according to the company's 2018 data, Azure had data centers in 44 worldwide regions compared to 19 for Amazon Web Services (AWS) and 17 associated with Google Cloud Platform (GCP). The research also found that Azure boasted the most data centers opening soon — 10, versus 4 for AWS and 3 for GCP.

Data center locations aren't as important if you only operate in one country or region. But, if you're a multinational company or plan to expand into new markets, pay attention to the where your data center providers operate.

Cloud Security Is a Shared Responsibility

Many customers who sign up with a cloud provider assume that company is solely responsible for keeping the stored data safe. Clients must get clarification on precisely what security factors they must address, and which ones the cloud provider handles. According to a new McAfee report, infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) is the fastest-growing segment in cloud computing.

Companies that specialize in IaaS services offer virtualized compute resources for their clients. That arrangement allows the customers to deploy applications faster and more reliably than they could without relying on the cloud.

But, the McAfee research indicated that 99% of IaaS cloud misconfigurations remain unnoticed. That oversight leaves companies open to cloud-native breaches made possible with new kinds of malware. And, the McAfee data showed that companies go through 3,500 cloud misconfiguration incidents per month, but believe they experience less than 40 events.

Different findings from Symantec published in 2019 also shed light on why potential customers need to take cloud security seriously when selecting a provider. Respondents said that nearly two-thirds of the security issues under investigation in the past year occurred at the cloud level, and they classified a third as cloud-only.

These statistics give a crucial reminder that when you choose between cloud providers, never assume that the company you go with will take care of all aspects of security. Take the time to find out what security aspects they cover and aim to find one that has above-average security safeguards. Then, invest in cloud-native security tools to uphold any parts of security that your company must handle.

Sustainability Efforts May Influence Your Choice

Cloud providers increasingly look for opportunities to focus on environmental sustainability. ResearchAndMarkets released data predicting a 23.01% combined annual growth rate (CAGR) for the forecast period from 2019 to 2024 regarding the green data center market. Plus, detailed breakdowns exist to show how committed the leading cloud providers are to making planet-friendly investments.

Google Cloud Platform wants to differentiate itself as an ultra-green option and wants to have the "most sustainable cloud." One of the ways it's working towards that aim is to purchase 100% renewable energy.

The major players in the cloud computing sector can play a crucial role in protecting the planet and reducing climate change. But, they have to make conscious choices about hardware and infrastructure efficiencies, renewable energies, and more.

With those things in mind, you may decide that the cloud provider you choose does indeed matter because it's leading the way in sustainability efforts. But, if sustainability is not as much of a priority for you, it may be sufficient to merely take comfort in the fact that all of the top cloud providers address sustainability to some extent.

Solidify Your Priorities

Understanding whether your choice of cloud computing provider matters has everything to do with what your company deems most important. For example, besides the things mentioned here, you may prefer to do business with a company that offers the most affordable prices for what you need or has a particular feature to entice customers.

Once you understand your must-have aspects of a cloud provider, selecting the most important one becomes much more straightforward.

On the other hand, if you're only investing a small amount in cloud computing for now, it may be evident you don't need to select too carefully yet and will re-evaluate things after gaining more experience with cloud computing.

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