A couple of years back, conversations about cloud computing services were all around complexity, security and risk. What a difference a couple of years make; this incredibly powerful way of delivering a secure, scalable IT resource has now become an accepted mainstream approach for organisations, whether it’s public, private, or hybrid.

While the industry has come a long way, the problem now is the rise of an equally shaky set of assumptions – that cloud computing services are now, in effect, a commodity. By this token, all cloud offerings, like cats, look grey in the dark! This is far too simplistic.

You’re not any old business – so don’t accept ‘any old cloud’

Here are some questions you should be asking your hosting provider:

  1. For a start, not all cloud hosting providers can offer you truly scalable cloud. Ask your cloud provider for the metrics, numbers and customer references to back this claim up.
  2. What is the provider offering in terms of built-in zero downtime? An ecommerce site that flakes out on customers just isn’t going to cut it in today’s world. And while cloud may give you scalability, it won’t guarantee availability in the same way as physical hosting.
  3. And by the same token, given the unpredictable weather we’ve had this year already, what’s the plan for getting your business back up and running if there’s any kind of unexpected outage at the provider’s data centre?
  4. Consumers know that the download speeds the ad promises aren’t always believable; this same scepticism should be applied to speed claims made by cloud providers. Ask to see the topology of the network being offered, as well as benchmarks.
  5. Is cloud the most cost-effective solution for this particular workload or application? Cloud often appears to be a cheap solution on the surface, but you also need to take into consideration bandwidth charges and peripheral metred

In addition to these questions, a provider should be able to integrate key business software apps, have solid service level agreements in place, and ensure that your customers’ details will be kept safe (e.g. full compliance with the PCI DSS).

But above all – and this really is the fundamental reason that all cloud is not the same – make sure the potential home for your core commerce site is with a firm that gets your business. Does the company know your sector? Have they dealt with sites that handle a similar amount of traffic and transactions? Can they offer you smart ideas, based on experience, to give you competitive advantage through technology?

No, cloud is not a commodity. Cloud is about powering your firm through the best tech home you can find – helped by a go-getter who wants you both to succeed. And that’s not something you get just by signing any old piece of paper – or accepting any old platforming deal.

Check out why Cogeco Peer 1 is proud not to offer a ‘standard cloud’ e-commerce solution for companies like yours: http://www.peer1.com/ecommerce-website-hosting