How should I choose the right cloud provider for my business?

Originally published for Insider Magazine’s Ask the Expert

Q: How should I choose the right cloud provider for my business?

In 2014, talking about “the cloud” seems almost boring. The marketplace is saturated with many similar types of cloud technology all promising to keep your business-critical data safe and cut costs.

The truth is that the cloud is an old concept. All the cloud really refers to is the efficient and resilient sharing of vast, pooled computer resources. This means businesses can buy into the right level of capacity and resilience that they need, without investing in expensive hardware.

So in a market awash with providers, how do you pick the right one for your business?

Think of it like this: you need to buy a cake for an extremely special occasion. You can’t bake so your options are to go to a supermarket or to go to your local bakery/cake shop.

A supermarket is a reliable place to buy cake off-the-shelf, in different basic forms. You’ll probably get something that you like if you shop around enough. They’ll even let you customise it – say by adding a personal message.

On the other hand, your local cake decorator or baker is going to work hard show off their reputation for beautiful, bespoke cakes that’s been won over years with hard work. They might not have the ability to turn out the perfect cake immediately, but each one they produce will be exactly what the customer asked for. And with planning, a bigger order is rarely a problem.

The key difference between them is that while a supermarket can produce the same basic cakes over and over again, you rarely get outstanding customer service. A good local bakery will try hard to keep good staff and offer a friendly face when you pop in for your next order or even just a cuppa.

So in my opinion, what it boils down to is trust. Who do you trust to produce exactly the right cake for that special occasion?

And if you’re about to buy a slice of the cloud, who do you trust more to deliver the right solution for your business?