Cloud computing services are becoming more popular, as more freelance web developers can take advantage of them for productivity, security, and communication. However, before you choose a cloud services provider, there are some important considerations to bear in mind.
1. Technologies and services available
First, consider which technologies and services are provided by this cloud vendor, and how those offerings match your needs. This should be an obvious consideration, but many freelancers end up with a plan that has less than what they truly need (causing them to search out new partners shortly thereafter) or more than what they need (causing them to overpay and underutilize). Run a thorough audit to get the closest possible match.
2. Security and governance
What kind of security and governance standards does this provider employ? Are they formally certified? Is their infrastructure compliant? Depending on your needs and what types of clients you serve, you may be interested in additional layers of security; for example, web security for Google Cloud can help you ensure that your data is being protected.
3. Integrations and APIs
Which other apps and products does this cloud product work with? If you’re looking to streamline your productivity with a good synergy between apps, you’ll want to make sure you can exchange data freely between platforms. If an open API is available and you like to develop your own solutions, you can likely stitch together products as you see fit.
4. Reliability and performance
What kind of uptime does this cloud service provider offer? Your provider may or may not publish this information. At the very least, you should have access to reporting and monitoring tools that allow you to evaluate the service’s performance as you use it for your clients.
5. Contracts and business terms
What kind of contract do you need to sign? What business terms will you need to abide by? Many cloud service providers are open and flexible, with easy-to-understand terms and contracts that allow for free and easy termination. However, some will have more complex legal territory to navigate. Generally speaking, simpler is better.
6. Migration support and exit planning
If you already have data on another platform, it’s important to know what kind of migration support your new vendor offers. Similarly, you’ll want to find out what kind of support they offer for companies exiting or terminating their services; some cloud service providers attempt to lock users into their services by making it exceptionally difficult to leave. As a freelancer, you’ll want as much flexibility as possible.
7. Company profile and reputation
Learn more about this specific company. What kind of history have they had? What is their reputation like? Do they stand by their customers, and do they continually improve their products?
8. User reviews and testimonials
Along similar lines, it pays to look at user reviews and testimonials. Which companies have used these cloud services in the past, and what do they think of their experience? Are they still using these products and services? What is their overall experience like? What are the biggest strengths and weaknesses they see?
Cloud service pricing can be confusing. Many of the major players in the cloud service world publish their prices openly and use fixed prices so you always know what you’re paying. But this isn’t always the case. Make sure you know what kind of deal you’re getting and whether it’s appropriate for the field.
10. Service and support
What kind of ongoing customer service and support are you going to get? Are there regular updates and new features to look forward to? If you have an issue, will you be able to get in contact with someone?
The Vetting Process
The vetting process for new cloud services providers can be daunting, but it’s worth the extra effort. This partner is going to be responsible for a significant chunk of your capacity as a freelancer, so it’s not a decision to take lightly. Take your time, review your available candidates, and only finalize the decision when you have sufficient information.