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Everyone’s moving on up to the cloud. You love to see it. The innovation that cloud infrastructure has enabled over the past decade is nothing short of remarkable. And yet, there are still plenty of businesses all over the world that are just now making the move from legacy on-prem hardware to a cloud structure. 

The argument for cloud migration is well-rehearsed by now.

  • Scalability of space based on demand, not capital expenditure
  • Cost-effective pricing tied to usage, not hardware
  • Accessibility from anywhere, at any time, on any device with internet connectivity
  • Reliability based on the provider’s assumption of risk and their promised uptime
  • Backup and recovery automated by the provider’s systems with failover capabilities
  • Security powered by leading-edge protocols and policies

In principle, cloud infrastructure offers an incredible opportunity to unshackle your business from the hardware upgrade cycle. The key is knowing what to look for in a cloud provider, which questions to ask, and how to make this important decision.

But, when you consider moving all of your hard-earned, precious data to someone else’s third-party infrastructure, it begs the question, “How do you know who to trust?” Maybe you should just build your own cloud. Maybe you need a big global brand reputation behind the platform. Maybe your business is so unique and special that you should opt for a boutique industry darling designed just for your needs. 

We’ll stop you there. First, get the big picture. Then read on for important details about how Panzura changes the cloud provider paradigm.

What to look for when choosing a cloud provider

Start by understanding your organization’s relationship with data. What are your actual storage needs? You should have a firm grasp on how much data you have, how often you access it, and what security policies and compliance requirements you need to implement. 

Once you’ve documented your current state, consider any aspirational qualities that are important to this move. Maybe now is the time to add a layer of business intelligence to your workflow. Perhaps you need a new ERP solution too, and this infrastructure change will necessitate an integration with that new platform. Consider how your technology stack will evolve, or more specifically, how it needs to evolve alongside this move to the cloud.

Now that you have an idea of where you stand today and a vision for where you want to go in terms of your organization’s technological platforms, it’s time to think about the wide array of cloud storage providers. There’s public cloud, private cloud, and hybrid cloud. Each option offers different capabilities, advantages, disadvantages, and pricing structures. If you started here, it would be easy to get lost in … the clouds. (We’re not sorry for that pun.) Because you started with your current state and a vision for your future state, you’re much better prepared to quickly sort through the options and narrow the field to who best aligns with your needs.

But this decision isn’t just about broad capabilities and pricing. Details matter. Consider the following key promises from each potential provider in your shortlist:

Security: You want data encryption, access controls, and authentication protocols. Their policies and procedures should line up fairly close to your own. It’s even better if they exceed yours. Lastly, double-check any compliance/regulatory issues unique to your geography or industry.

Reliability: The name of the game is uptime. Every cloud provider makes pledges about their uptime and availability. Check their reputation against their promises — the internet doesn’t lie. Beyond that, get a feel for their customer support and service agreements. 

Recovery: Disasters happen; just ask the insurance industry. If you are moving the assumption of risk off of your hardware and facilities and into someone else’s hands, you need to know their plan for when there’s a “situation.” Evaluate each cloud provider’s backup and recovery features and promises thoroughly. They’ll all claim it’s automated, but dig deeper to see what that actually means. 

TCO: Total Cost of Ownership. Factor in the entire pricing structure, from data migration to monthly/annual fees to egress/retrieval and usage fees. Don’t just look at their pricing structure and assume you know the cost. Do your due diligence here.

10 questions to ask a potential cloud provider

If you’re doing your homework and digging into the digital nuts and bolts of your potential cloud provider, you will have questions. Here’s what you need to ask:

  1. What security features and protocols do you use to protect my data?
  2. What is your documented track record in uptime and data availability?
  3. What are your backup and recovery policies in the event of a data loss?
  4. Where are your data centers located, and how do they ensure redundancy and availability?
  5. How do you offer scalability to meet changing storage needs?
  6. What are your pricing options, and how are they structured?
  7. Do you offer service-level agreements, and what are the terms?
  8. What levels of customer support do you offer?
  9. What industry-specific compliance certifications do you meet?
  10. How do you manage data migration and integration with our existing technology stack?

If you can get solid answers to these 10 questions, you are well on your way to understanding how a cloud provider stacks up against your needs.

If Panzura works with almost any cloud provider, why does the selection matter?

It’s true; we work equally well with the big dogs as we do with hybrid solutions and private cloud instances. Because our CloudFS global file system (GFS) is truly cloud native, we can do a lot to offset the impact of this “which cloud is right for me?” decision. Breathe a deep sigh of relief and consider these three critical features of the Panzura platform when you’re doing your research on cloud providers:

  1. Data Mobility Beyond the Cloud: Panzura’s object storage structure allows us to seamlessly integrate multiple cloud storage platforms behind the scenes, even on-premises infrastructure. Regardless of your chosen provider, Panzura protects you from vendor lock and data silos because we’re your sole source of truth anywhere your data lives. 
  2. Data Protection Above the Cloud: It starts with immutable data. On Panzura’s GFS, your data simply cannot be compromised by ransomware. Beyond that one incredible feature, we offer military-grade encryption, global deduplication, version control, and automated backups to ensure your data is always secure. Plus, our auditing and analytics capabilities surpass any compliance regulation written. No brag, just fact.
  3. Data Performance Inside the Cloud: We reduce latency between sites to near-local speed, even if you’re on opposite sides of the world. Panzura’s performance capabilities will surpass your expectations, even if you have large datasets requiring real-time access. We’re that good.

So, even though it’s critically important that you understand what you need in a cloud provider and how your policies and priorities align with theirs, a partnership with Panzura mitigates your biggest headaches regardless of who you choose. We protect your data. We ensure access to it anytime, anywhere, in real time. And we give you the trifecta of performance capabilities that no other cloud provider can offer: analytics that deliver business intelligence insights, data management policies that drive cost-effective behavior, and optimized storage that maximizes your investment. 

Whatever cloud you choose, trust Panzura to make it even better.