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May 8, 2024
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How to Choose a Cloud Service Provider [Buyer's Guide 2024]

Stumped because you don’t know how to choose cloud providers that help you streamline your cloud computing’s performance? We were, too — that’s why we’ve created this buyer’s guide. 

More and more people are turning to cloud computing to store, manage, and process their sensitive data, tired of relying on personal computers that someone could easily hack. 

Moreover, they use it to enhance their operational efficiency and agility.

You want to optimize your workflows, too. However, you have no clue which cloud service provider (CSP) to choose. There are tons of options available on the market — so many, it’s incredibly hard to know which option fits you, what features to keep an eye on, etc. 

But we want to make the selection process easier to handle. In this guide, you’ll find how to choose a cloud provider, what features you need, and the five best cloud service vendors to consider. 

What is a Cloud Service Provider?

A cloud service provider is a company that offers on-demand computing services that users can access on demand via an internet connection. Think cloud-based data centers, storage providers, and application services. 

The right cloud provider can bring your business the innovation, flexibility, scalability, and resiliency you need to accelerate your digital transformation, without worrying about the physical limitations of on-site servers. 

Now, let’s explore how people use cloud computing in their businesses. 

How is Cloud Computing Used?

Cloud computing has many uses; let’s go through them: 

  • Disaster recovery: With cloud computing and multiple servers, you can get your business operations up and running easily, even in the event of a natural disaster or cyberattack. 
  • Data analysis: Cloud service providers gather all your big data in a single place and it comes with a pay-as-you-go strategy. You’ll only pay and access the resources you need when you need them. 
  • Storing files: All you need is an internet connection to access your files from any device, no matter where you are. This makes it easy to manage your docs and enables a more efficient ecosystem.
  • Backup and archiving: Most cloud providers have backup and archiving solutions in place to address any modern threat. As a result, you keep your data safe even if it becomes compromised. 

Cloud infrastructures are highly helpful for optimizing your workloads, organizing your data, and keeping it safe from cybercriminals.

But what exactly are its benefits? 

Let’s explore them next. 

What are the Benefits of Using a Cloud Service Provider?

According to Deloitte, 36% of commercial real estate executives plan on investing in cloud computing. Why is that?

Maybe we can find the answer by looking at cloud computing’s benefits: 

  • Cost-effective: After the initial (and slightly costly) investment, you’ll experience more cost savings in the long run because you stop maintaining expensive hardware or cloud-based servers. You also save more time by having easy access to your data. 
  • Better business insights: Plenty of cloud platforms offer analytics that let you better understand customer behavior and identify patterns that you can later act on. As a result, you can find new growth opportunities that bring you the success you want. 
  • Data security: You don’t have to worry about security breaches, as most cloud solutions carefully monitor all activity and use advanced encryption methods to prevent unwanted accidents. 
  • Flexibility, mobility, and scalability: Cloud providers offer the extra bandwidth you need to meet your business needs and demands easily, almost instantly. This leads to better efficiency in your processes and fewer bottlenecks. 
  • Increased collaboration: Your employees stop searching for files from different sources — they now have a single central location where they can find anything they need easily. As a result, collaboration is more streamlined and it increases engagement. 

Hopefully, seeing the benefits has stirred your curiosity. If you’re ready to take this next step, let’s go through the tips for choosing a cloud service provider. 

How to Choose a Cloud Service Provider

We know how hard it is to pick the right CSP.  There are tons of vendors out there — any tool looks good, in your opinion! 

So, how do you choose your on-site or hybrid cloud provider? Well, by considering your needs and the following factors: 

Now let’s look at these key requirements more closely. 

1. Scalability

The cloud provider’s ability to scale up and down as your business grows is key to fulfilling your changing demands every step of the way. And a feature every cloud provider should offer. 

This means that your cloud solution should adjust its performance to meet your organization’s demands with ease and without additional fees. 

As a result, you pay just for what you need rather than use an inflexible cloud architecture at a higher cost. So, try to look for cloud providers that can scale with your business, especially if you want to capitalize on seasonal increases in customer demand. 

There are three types of cloud scaling: 

  • Vertical scaling: You upgrade or downgrade the volume of your resources to handle complex tasks.
  • Horizontal scaling: Involving the efficient distribution and computing of your resources on demand to tackle multiple tasks. 
  • Global scaling: Highly useful for scaling resources across multiple virtual machines in different parts of the world.

2. Certifications and standards

Many people look at a cloud provider’s certifications and recognized standards to determine if they’re the right fit or not. 

These certifications show a provider’s ability to meet industry best practices and frameworks. So, if you’re stuck choosing a provider, this might be the final criterion that’ll help you shorten your list.

There are multiple types of standards for cloud, security, and operations. For example, if you want a secure cloud solution, choose tools that have CSA, ISO 27001, HIPAA, or PCI DSS certifications. 

Overall, look for cloud providers that plan to support your business and work continuously to adhere to industry security standards. 

3. Security and compliance

Data loss, privacy, and leakage are people’s top cloud security concerns, according to a survey conducted by ISC2. Moreover, 62% of respondents mentioned data privacy and confidentiality. 

So, since security concerns so many people, your chosen cloud service tool should employ robust security measures that protect your data, such as: 

  • Data encryption to ensure the provider protects your data wherever it is. 
  • Security audits and testing that help you track user activity through logs.
  • Physical security, protecting your office with surveillance cameras, bodyguards, etc. 
  • Identity and access management (IAM) as well as secure access controls that allow you to decide which people may see which data. To give you more context, IAM refers to security measures such as multi-factor authentication, role-based access, firewalls, etc., that allow you to manage who can access your files. 
  • Security monitoring tools to detect threats and quickly respond to them in real time. 

In addition, choose a solution that complies with industry-specific standards, like in healthcare or finance. But also with regional standards, such as GDPR in the European Union. 

4. Service roadmap offerings

No two cloud service providers are the same. Each solution offers different services that are relevant to you and suit your preferences. 

Here are three types of cloud providers: 

  • Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) — Mostly involves renting either physical or virtual services and storage. It allows you to outsource your apps and data. 
  • Platform as a service (PaaS) — PaaS is great for creating applications without needing to install hardware or software. 
  • Software as a service (SaaS) — This allows you to access cloud apps via the Internet. 

Think about what you need to simplify your workflows. But also consider your team’s level of expertise with such tools, as you don’t want to waste too much time teaching them.

Furthermore, ask the cloud service provider if they have a roadmap for the service’s development to see if it fits your goals in the long term. 

5. Performance

Is the tool reliable? Can it handle resource-intensive tasks? Or will it break at the first sign of trouble?

Performance and reliability are some of the things you need to keep in mind when selecting your CSP. 

Pay attention to the service level agreements (SLAs) which are important documents outlining the commitment between a client and the service provider. This shows the provider’s uptime and availability in case of problems. 

The tool should also: 

  • Have high response times with minimal latency and no disruptions.
  • Communicate reliably and quickly with other applications via an efficient bandwidth.
  • Match your memory, CPU, and GPU requirements, without affecting the speed of your processes. 

Even if the tool sounds perfect and has everything you need, you might still experience unexpected downtimes. Ensure the provider you select has plans and processes in place to deal with this problem, should it arise. 

6. Data backup and disaster recovery

Speaking of unexpected issues, let’s talk about data backup and disaster recovery — one of the most important features your chosen CSP should have. 

It’s highly helpful for ensuring business continuity in case of disasters such as earthquakes or cyberattacks. So, look for providers that offer: 

  • Data backup options that keep your data safe and can withstand any attack.
  • Data retention policies that allow fast data recovery should something go wrong. 
  • Automation that simplifies the recovery process and reduces the risk of errors. 
  • Recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO), which are metrics used to measure the time spent recovering from an incident. 

In a nutshell, your cloud provider should be able to withstand anything and ensure your data is safe and available even after a disaster.

7. Customer support 

You might run into a problem or you don’t know how to use a tool’s specific feature; what do you do then? You should probably contact the vendor and ask for help. 

But if they don’t have customer support, you’re simply stuck. 

Try to look for providers that offer 24/7 support via different channels, such as email, phone, or online chat. However, customer support can come in other forms, such as FAQs, user guides, knowledge bases, dedicated support managers, or forums and communities. 

A great tip is to look at reviews. If the customer support is excellent, chances are people will say so. You can probably also gauge the level of support (as each vendor has different approaches) such as response times, availability, etc. 

Choosing a vendor with great customer support ensures you fix problems on time and get the help you need when you need it most. 

8. Cost and pricing model 

Cloud providers have different pricing models, varying from monthly plans to annual payments, and even free versions. Usually, you can find a detailed version of their subscription plans on their websites.

However, to save money, you need to consider the following factors: 

  • Choose the right pricing model — Some have pay-as-you-go models, which charge you based on the resources you use. On the other hand, subscription plans have fixed costs. There are also hybrid plans if you need them. 
  • Data-transfer costs — Some cloud service providers offer fees for data transfers, so consider them before committing. Choose a solution that matches your needs and budget, so you don’t pay extra. 
  • Billing transparency — Carefully evaluate your provider for hidden costs, such as maintenance fees. And make sure it provides clear and detailed billing information.

Now, you’re ready to move on to the features that every cloud service provider should have. 

What Features Should You Look for in a Cloud Service Provider?

According to Cybercrime Magazine, humans produce a HUGE amount of data daily. In 2025, we’ll have 200 zettabytes of data, half of it stored in the cloud. 

So, now’s the perfect time to invest in cloud service providers. But aside from having an intuitive and user-friendly interface, what other features should it have? 

Here’s a list to pay attention to: 

  • Resiliency — Your cloud service provider should withstand any cyberattack that might come your way. That’s why it should have backup, archiving, and disaster recovery features in place to keep your data safe at all times. 
  • Collaboration — Your workforce should easily access company information, no matter where they are. Through optimized file sharing, you enable your teams to work on projects better and more efficiently. 
  • Scalability — A good cloud service provider should be able to scale as your business grows, meaning that you can request new cloud resources whenever you need them. 
  • On-demand self-service — Cloud service providers enable high performance by allowing users to access the database whenever they need it, without needing to ask someone to get a specific file. 
  • Optimization — Your data will never lie idle because the cloud service will quickly identify areas that are wasting money instead of helping your business thrive. 

With this list of features, you’re now ready to see some of the best CSPs around. 

Best 5 Cloud Service Providers to Consider

The cloud computing industry is rapidly evolving. With this surge of new and innovative tools, it’ll be increasingly challenging to choose the right solution, especially if they come in so many different shapes and sizes. 

But we’ve evaluated the top five best CSPs to aid you in your efforts. 

1. Microsoft Azure

Microsoft Azure is a cloud computing platform that provides businesses with a hybrid, multicloud, or on-site infrastructure. 

This tool combines AI with machine learning (ML) to build ML models at scale, which accelerates and streamlines prompt engineering. Moreover, with Azure AI search, you can retrieve valuable information easily, aiding developers to explore databases and files faster.

Source: G2

The good news is that you can also set up Single Sign On (SSO) for your team’s Guru account with Microsoft Azure.  

Microsoft Azure has almost all the cloud services for our needs. It has made our web apps and database deployment very easy [in the] cloud.” 

2. Amazon Web Services (AWS) 

Amazon Web Services is another popular cloud computing service that offers content delivery, database storage, and generative AI to build reliable applications. 

Source: Capterra

With AWS’ generative AI, you can boost productivity and innovate faster and any type of businesses, from startups to enterprises, can use it to transform themselves. 

Moreover, AWS has the widest set of analytics tools, from data movement to data lakes to big data analytics. As a result, you can maximize the value of your data and discover new areas of improvement. 

You can also set up AWS SSO in Guru! 

What I like the most about this platform is that you can manage your data very accurately and efficiently to have reports on time.” 

3. Google Cloud Platform

Google Cloud Platform is a cloud-based service that allows teams to build everything from websites to complex apps. 

Source: Capterra

Google offers a free data warehouse that employs every security measure possible to keep your data safe from harm. But it also has advanced data analytics capabilities that make sense of your data and bring clarity into what’s working and what isn’t. 

Google connects with Guru through a browser extension, allowing you to access any file or info easily. 

Google Workspace is [a] gem that we hold so dear for the way it allows us to collaborate in real time and work together on our daily tasks even when some of us are working remotely.” 

4. IBM Cloud

IBM Cloud is an enterprise cloud platform that combines PaaS and IaaS so businesses can craft the best custom apps. 

Source: IBM

IBM Cloud handles the most critical workloads for companies in the most highly regulated industries, like healthcare. It also helps reduce the total cost of ownership and mitigates 3rd and 4th party risks. As a result, you’ll get a secure, highly resilient, and compliant cloud platform that meets all your client needs. 

The platform is extensive with plenty of options and integrations available and free tutorials available from the IBM website.” 

5. Salesforce Cloud

Salesforce Cloud is an AI-powered sales platform that allows you to close more deals faster by predicting customer patterns and trends. 

Source: G2

This tool allows you to unlock valuable sales insights and accelerate growth from a single platform. Plus, with activity, lead, and account and opportunity management, you can build strong relationships that grow your revenue. 

Salesforce and Guru make for a winning combination. Together, you can effortlessly access the right knowledge needed to provide exceptional customer experiences. 

[...] Salesforce has accumulated helpful out-of-the-box elements and data fields, but the system is also highly customizable, so you can track and analyze your data in the ways that best help propel your business forward.” 

Over to You

So, tell us: is it easier now to select your cloud provider? Or do you need to spend more time reading about how to choose cloud providers that help you reach new heights?

Either way, they all have one thing in common: Guru. 

Guru is a knowledge-management solution that connects your apps, docs, and chats into one platform. Moreover, Guru works to solve your specific needs and fetch the answers you need without you having to leave the tab. 

See for yourself by signing up for Guru today.

Key takeaways 🔑🥡🍕

How much does cloud computing cost?

Cloud services’ cost highly depends on your business needs, the number of users, and the types and quantities of the services you require. 

Providers employ different pricing models, from on-demand, instance-based, or subscription-based. Be aware of any hidden costs, such as track-record costs, exit fees, or regional rates. 

Should I use multiple cloud services?

Known as multi-cloud, this strategy of using multiple providers has its pros and cons:  

Pros: 

  • Better cost savings
  • Larger geographic reach 
  • Enhanced compatibility and resilience 
  • No vendor lock-in 

Cons: 

  • Difficult to maintain relationships with vendors 
  • Challenging to manage resources
  • Soaring data-transfer costs
  • Harder to maintain data protection 

In conclusion, it all depends on your organization’s goals, budget, and time, as multi-cloud requires handling multiple complex operations. 

Written by
Becca Dierolf
Search everything, get answers anywhere with Guru.

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