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March 6, 2017
A cloud service provider connects your firm to the cloud. Much like a cable provider connects you to their services, a cloud provider connects your network to the internet. There are a lot of things to look for when selecting the right cloud provider for your firm, but there are also things that are not that important to the typical service provider customer. You want to make sure you are asking the right questions, and not getting bogged down with details that do not matter.
Location of Services
This may seem to be an important question, but really it isn’t. More and more specialists are suggesting keeping cloud data out of the same zone as your offices. The reason for this is natural disasters. If a full-scale disaster happens, then it can affect an entire zip code or region. If your data is stored on multiple servers in other states then the data has a better chance of being recovered.
Some providers will have a server center near you, but that does not mean your data is fully allocated to that specific server. This is for the best. So, unless you have a specific reason to have your data stored locally, or out-of-state, then don’t worry about where the data is stored.
State and Federal Legalities
At this point, all the states are okay with CPA firms storing data in the cloud. Storing client data in the cloud is considered a responsible act by the CPA firm. However, there are federal and state laws that have specific requirements depending on the type of data stored. It is important to ask about this only as it affects exceptional data.
This does go hand-in-hand with the location of the servers. If your data has requirements based on the state where your business resides, then it may be important for your data to stay within the state borders, but in most cases this does not apply and is something you don’t have to worry about.
Yes, this may seem like a strange one, but right now in the cloud industry, you get what you pay for. Period. If you find a cloud service provider that can meet all your needs exactly, but there is another outfit that will almost meet your requirements and cost less, then go with the higher price. In most cases the price difference more than makes up for itself.
Avoid the Technical Jargon
Some providers will go out of their way to impress their clients. In the process, they start explaining stuff the customer does not understand. Avoid these conversations. The type of hard drive or CPU or some other chipset is of no consequence to you. You just need to know the provider will meet the requirements as described in the contract.
The bottom line is, find out what you need and contact a reputable cloud service provider to meet those needs.
A good provider will have the ability to do anything you want. Prepare a list of questions before you contact the provider, and make sure each question is answered in a way that you understand. Let’s face it, if they cannot explain it in a way you understand, then how will they be able to help you with issues later down the road.
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