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    What should you find out about your public cloud provider before you sign up?

    Here are some things you should ask a prospective cloud provider before you sign a contract with it.

    CIOs and the IT departments they manage know that it's only a matter of time before they have to make the move to cloud computing solutions for their enterprises. As many commentators have pointed out, as cloud computing becomes ubiquitous IT will be tasked with curating and managing a portfolio of public cloud services alongside privately maintained on-premise hardware and applications.

    This means that CIOs and other decision makers throughout the enterprise have to do their homework before selecting a public cloud provider. Not all providers are created equal, and even though the benefits of cloud computing are well known, a bad provider can be a nightmare.

    Here are some things you should ask a prospective cloud provider before you sign a contract with it.

    Ask if the server configurations are in compliance with regulations
    ITWeb recommended that decision makers ask the potential cloud provider what their server configurations regarding things like passwords are and find out whether or not they can be customized based on the customer's individual needs.

    "To help mitigate against possible insider threat, the cloud provider should be able to identify and shut down the accounts used by any staff exiting the company, to ensure they no longer have access to any sensitive information," John McLoughlin, MD of J2 Software said in ITWeb.

    Find out about security history
    Since an enterprise will be housing sensitive company data in the public cloud, Computer World UK wrote that it's essential that CIOs know the provider's history when it comes to breaches and recovery. If the provider denies ever having any kind of attack on its infrastructure, or tries to downplay any incidents, it should be a clear sign that the provider is probably untrustworthy.

    Ensure reliability
    Business success in the cloud is dependent on uptime. Every minute that has employees waiting to access their workflows is lost time and money. Computer World UK reported that it's easy to spot an untrustworthy cloud provider by the way they advertise their uptime statistics. Use the four/five 9's rule – if they promise 99.999 percent uptime, it's too good to be true. If they advertise 99.99 percent uptime, it's much more likely that you're dealing with a provider who knows what its talking about.