11 Questions You Should Ask Your Hosting Solution Provider
In our previous article, we explained what you should expect as a client when meeting the associates of the hosting solution provider, what questions they might ask you.
Now let’s see the other side and go through the key topics that the client should ask during the negotiations, and the questions stemming from them.
1) Where will your data be stored?
Nowadays, due to the growing number of cloud service providers, there is such a wide range of prices on the market that you should be suspicious about the too expensive solutions, and the same goes for the too cheap offers or offers under the average market price.
Nobody wants to see their business-critical data on a flash drive worn around the neck of a jovial IT specialist…
Well, in an ideal case your data is stored on some kind of shared or dedicated server, in a data center that is at a geographically remote, physically protected location.
Whether it should be located within the country or across the borders, it depends on the business policies and also regulated by the legal environment.
2) What problems may occur during the actually running installation or migration?
You should expect clashes of opinions if you have not precisely clarified the characteristics of the software environment during the preliminary discussions.
There are compatibility questions like the OS, the assessment of the capacity requirements, or the version number of the web technologies to be used (PHP, cache).
Migration obviously comes with downtime, and that’s why you should inquire about the expected number of engineering hours, and ask whether migration is done during working hours or at a less frequent time of the day.
3) Is the provider a reseller of the service or do they have the infrastructure at their disposal?
Right at the beginning of the article, we mentioned that the resources sold as a service can either be the property of the service provider or a third party.
For example, Rackspace has its own data centers at multiple locations.
However, if it’s Cloudreach or Datapipe – or AionHill – who’s on the other side of the table, then these service providers, as AWS partners, maybe resellers of the cloud infrastructure of Amazon, and their IT professionals manage this cloud equipment and optimize them to their clients’ needs.
4) What kind of cloud services do they provide?
You should check out the main service types using the cost calculator of the big cloud companies.
Before going into negotiations, you should know whether the service provider has the appropriate competencies and service portfolio.
To be able to do this, you, of course, have to precisely define your own business vision and your expectations concerning the cloud.
You should have discussions on whether the offered services represent a solution to your problem.
5) What pricing policy do they use?
You should only pay for what you actually use.
That’s why you should pay attention to unrealistically high upfront costs.
In 80% of the cases these upfront costs are not even mentioned since, as we have said earlier, practically all service providers follow the pay-as-you-go scheme, of which the hosting company issues a monthly bill.
This is exactly one of the pricing methods which can push down the costs of the infrastructure usage well below the operation and maintenance costs of the client’s own server farm.
You may come across the upfront costs in the case of a fixed-term commitment. You may be surprised at the greater upfront costs, but usually, that’s how you can realize the highest average discount.
The monthly cost of cloud resources can range from $2-3 to even several thousands of dollars. It all depends on what size and what kind of services your company needs.
6) How secure is the solution provided?
It’s not really the level of security what matters, but it’s rather how much the service provider does for security.
Does it have the necessary certificates, licenses, or as a third party does it manage services which meet the necessary requirements?
In addition to data management, enough attention should be paid to the monitoring of the firewall, to the set of access levels, to access control and to encryption.
7) What happens if my data is corrupted or lost?
A precise SLA description is perfectly suitable for avoiding such situations.
In this undertaking, among others, this and similar cases are usually also covered. You need to know if you can access your data as well, or you completely entrust the associates of the service provider with that.
If your employees also have access to the files, access logging will also have to be monitored.
You should be informed about how the service provider intends to schedule the backups (daily, weekly etc.).
Under which conditions and how frequently archiving takes place? How can quick disaster recovery be performed in the case of an unwanted crash or data loss?
8) What kind of customer support services do they provide?
What sort of methods are there for error reporting? During which hours, how many days of the week can you reach the customer service?
What time are frames there for troubleshooting? Is there VIP support available and if yes, what is considered to be a critical error, the fixing of which has to be started immediately, and which errors belong to the category of “next business day”?
Through what kind of services can you contact the employees of the service provider when you detect an error? Average response time also has to be determined.
9) Is the system easily scalable so that it can follow the business needs?
With the expansion of your business, sooner or later you’ll outgrow the infrastructure currently in use.
The incoming and outgoing data traffic will increase, your storage need will grow, even the number of your products and visitors may drastically increase.
You can also quite often hear the words flexibility and scalability from the service providers. You should ask about the time frame and/or the financial implications of starting or stopping resources (upscaling or downscaling).
10) What downtime rate should you expect?
Downtime, or in other words network outage, occurs when the service is temporarily unavailable.
This can result in a substantial financial loss.
For this reason, it’s worth looking for companies that guarantee the highest proportion of availability compared to the days of the year.
Of course, the answer to the question above is that there’s no downtime. What matters, is that the percentage of availability is as close to 100 as possible.
A great part of the companies usually publish the log files of the downtimes. If you don’t find any publicly available information on that, you should inquire about it!
11) How will you access the servers?
It’s important to clarify in what way you will be able to use the resources, how you will access them.
Via what protocols will the upload of the static pieces of content happen?
Generally, the client is granted a certain administrative level access to be used through desktop and very often all kinds of smart devices.
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