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Earlier this year, Goldman Sachs released a study which projected that spending on cloud computing infrastructure and platforms will grow at a 30% compound annual growth rate from 2013 through 2018, compared with 5% growth for the overall enterprise IT market. This is a staggering number, and reflects the growing importance of cloud computing in the enterprise IT equation. Along with such growth, however, come a host of service providers with varying quality and credibility. As a result, in a landscape that is becoming increasingly crowded and competitive, choosing the right supplier is critical. For business leaders taking the next step into the cloud, there are a few fundamentals to keep in mind when making the final decision.

Jed Hewson, Director at 1Stream, a leading provider of cloud based call centre technology in Southern Africa, says that business leaders/decision-makers need to first and foremost ‘play detective’.

“Taking on a new supplier is always risky,” cautions Hewson. “Do your homework upfront, before you shortlist potential suppliers to avoid being wooed by smooth talkers who can’t actually deliver.”

Indeed, while everyone can throw around buzzwords such as ‘99% uptime’, ‘fully redundant platforms’ and ‘top-notch security’, it’s very difficult to actually achieve all of this. So if a supplier is making promises like this, notes Hewson, don’t just take their word for it – ask to see proof!

“Take the time to investigate their processes and references,” adds Hewson. “The value in managed cloud services lies in the management of technology, not just the technology itself.”

According to Hewson, any credible provider will have well-documented standard operating procedures and be happy to share them with you. They should also be willing to share references from existing clients, as well as those who left.

“Finding out why a customer left will give you valuable insight into how the provider deals with customers,” he adds.

Another useful strategy is to ask about a service provider’s team. A managed services provider is only as good as the people it employs, so try to make sure that the provider has the right skills in-house, and that there are enough people to support additional business if they take on your account.

The final and critical step, notes Hewson, is to check the contract.

“The point of cloud services is that they are flexible and easy to enter and exit,” he explains. “If a provider is trying to tie you into a five-year contract, you should be concerned.”

With new case studies and surveys testifying to the cloud’s role being pushed out daily, it can be tough to resist diving into a contract with the first smooth-talking cloud provider you come across. Yet only by taking the time to do your homework and selecting the right partner, can you truly benefit from the immense power of cloud computing.


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