A Comprehensive Guide: What to Consider When Choosing a Cloud Provider for Your Business?


As businesses continue to embrace the benefits of cloud computing, choosing the right cloud service provider has become increasingly important. With so many options available, it can be difficult to know where to start. However, by considering the following 11 criteria, you can ensure that you select a provider that meets your specific needs.

A cloud service provider is a third-party company that provides computing cloud services for other businesses and individuals. The top 3 public cloud service providers are AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud, with 31%, 20%, and 7%, respectively. But, besides these top cloud service providers, there are dozens more. So, how do you know which cloud service provider is the best cloud service provider for you?

In this article, I will discuss some points to help you know what to consider when choosing a cloud provider. If you are unfamiliar with top cloud service providers, please read What a Cloud Service Provider is.

Cloud Service Provider

For starters, it isn't easy to figure out which cloud provider is the best option for those planning to migrate to a public cloud. So, in this article, I will try to help you figure out how to find out which cloud is best for you and what kind of research you need to do before you move to a cloud.

There are three types of clouds – public, private, and hybrid. A public cloud is when it is hosted and managed by a cloud service provider and available to the public. The most popular public clouds (or cloud companies) are Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud. Here is a list of the Top 10 Cloud Service Providers in 2023.

A private cloud is when the cloud hardware and services are leased from a cloud service provider but hosted on-premises by a company. For example, you can get an Azure stack and host Azure hardware within your company's network. This type of cloud is available to private networks only. This is good for companies not wanting to put their data on public clouds.

The third type of cloud is the hybrid cloud, a combination of public and private clouds. You may need a hybrid cloud because some of the services and apps you may want to deploy in the public cloud, and some you may want to deploy in a private cloud.

So, how do you know which cloud service provider is best for you? Here are some points to consider when choosing a cloud service provider.

  1. Cloud service type
  2. Capabilities and product offerings
  3. Innovative
  4. Technical expertise
  5. Cost
  6. Security and Compliance
  7. Performance
  8. Regions and zones availability
  9. Multi-cloud approach
  10. Hybrid cloud
  11. Specialized cloud services

1. Cloud service type

The first thing you need to ask yourself is, what type of cloud do you need? As I mentioned, there are three clouds: public, private, and hybrid. So, which kind of cloud are you looking for? Unless you are a big company, you are probably looking for a public cloud. However, a large enterprise often needs a multi-cloud and hybrid cloud approach, which I discuss later in this article.

There are three types of cloud services, IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS. As you saw earlier, you need to determine your needs. Not every business needs all these services, and each cloud provider has its pros and cons. For example, you may find AWS IaaS services better than Azure but Azure PaaS services better than AWS.

Once you know what type of cloud you need, you can look at various cloud service providers and see which suits you the best.

For example, Azure offers 100s of services. Therefore, it would be best if you made sure that the service type you are looking for is not only available but also not costlier than other providers.

2. Capabilities and Product Offerings

Each cloud service provider has its top offerings and some OK offerings. Some products and capabilities are better on one cloud service provider than another. You have to research and see which cloud service provider suits you the best.

One of the key benefits of cloud computing is the ability to scale your resources as your needs change. Choose a provider that offers flexible and scalable solutions so that you can easily adjust your resources as your business grows.

AWS and Azure are complete cloud providers with the same capabilities and product offerings. But some products are better on one cloud service provider than the other. For example, your applications use SQL Server, and you want to take advantage of an intelligent cloud and database. Therefore, AAzure SQL may be your better option in Azure cloud-only. Another example is if you want to use IBM Watson, that service may only be available on the IBM cloud. Similarly, Google Cloud may be the better option if your company uses Google products.

Some specialized cloud services are not available on other clouds. For example, Microsoft Cognitive Services is its own AI/ML offering that others don't provide. AWS and Google are trying to build them up, but it's not even close. IBM Watson service is not available on other cloud providers. AWS Alexa service is available on AWS cloud-only. Microsoft Graph is for Azure customers only, and so on. Google Cloud has some services that are not available on other clouds.

Besides some common cloud services, each cloud provider also offers some specialized services. For example, Azure offers Azure CosmosDB, Cognitive Services, Windows Virtual Desktop, Azure SQL Database, and Azure Blockchain service that is available in Azure only. If you want to try to get those services on AWS or other clouds, they probably will not be available. However, there may be similar offerings from other cloud providers. You have to ensure the service you are looking for is offered by the cloud provider you choose.

3. Your Experience and Expertise

The key decision to select a cloud service provider is based on your existing team's experience and expertise. And it may not be just one cloud. It can be multiple. Most fortune 500 companies use more than one cloud service provider. In addition, large corporations use clouds based on their offerings.

However, if you are a Microsoft shop and your needs are SQL Server, Windows, .NET, and Office, then you are better off looking at the Azure cloud. In addition, if you already have existing Windows, SQL Server, and other product licenses, you can use your existing licenses in the Azure cloud to reduce your licensing costs.

4. Cost

Cost is probably the most important factor most businesses move to a cloud. Depending on your need for products and services, the cost may vary from cloud to cloud. Cost is always an important factor to consider when making any business decision. When choosing a cloud service provider, it is important to consider the total cost of ownership, including the cost of resources, support, and any additional services you may need.

While all top three clouds, AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud, are highly competitive, and their pricing is neck to neck, some products may vary from cloud to cloud. For example, you may find the cost of sending bulk emails on AWS is much cheaper than Azure.

People automatically assume that moving a cloud will be cheaper, but this is not always the case. If you do not plan it right and do not have a team of experts, your cloud services may cost more than on-premises. A perfect example is that one of our enterprise clients has terabytes of data on-premises, and their customers frequently access the data and files. When they migrated their application to the cloud, costs went up 500%, primarily because of data upload and download bandwidth costs. Before the cloud, they had their hosting and leased lines, and the data bandwidth was not a factor.

Here is a must-watch video on designing and architecting scalable cloud systems, saving costs, and how Netflix does it.

5. Security and Compliance

Security should be a top priority when selecting a cloud service provider. Look for a provider that implements industry-standard security measures, such as encryption and multi-factor authentication, to protect your data. Additionally, it is important to consider the physical security of the data centers used by the provider.
Security and compliances are other reasons people choose different public cloud service providers. For example, both AWS and Azure provide most of the security services. Still, you may have a specific security need supported by one provider and not another. Also, while security options may be available, it does not mean it is enabled.

Depending on your industry, there may be specific regulations and standards that you must comply with. Therefore, it is essential to choose a cloud service provider that can meet these requirements, such as HIPAA for healthcare organizations or PCI-DSS for companies that process credit card transactions.

While AWS and Azure seem to have most of the common compliance certifications, there may be some need for compliance that one cloud provider may not offer. Therefore, you need to determine your compliance needs and ensure your cloud service providers offer what you need.

6. Support and Maintenance

It is important to choose a provider that offers responsive and helpful support. Consider the type of support offered (such as phone, email, or chat), as well as the hours of availability. Additionally, consider whether the provider provides a service level agreement (SLA) that guarantees a certain level of uptime.

Each cloud service provider has a different support and maintenance contract. Therefore, you must look at your needs and compare which provider suits you better.

Cloud service providers have different plans. You have to ask yourself what kind of support you need and the cost and see which support plan works for you.

Besides top cloud service providers, reseller cloud service providers repackage Azure, AWS, and Google Cloud and add their own managed services. These cloud providers are called managed cloud service providers. These are good options for businesses that do not have technical staff and cloud capabilities. You pay a monthly fee for managing your cloud services using a managed cloud service provider.

7. Performance

Performance is a crucial factor to consider when selecting a cloud service provider. Look for a provider that offers reliable and high-performing solutions, and consider factors such as network speed, storage options, and processing power.

8. Location

Top cloud service providers have more physical and logical locations than others. Physical locations are divided into regions. Microsoft's Azure is available in more locations than any other cloud, but AWS is not too far. Google Cloud is getting there. Having more locations is not a deal-breaker, but if you are looking for a local data center, you may want to check it out.




Google Cloud





Availability Zones




9. Multi-Cloud

AWS and Azure are two complete clouds that provide almost everything a business needs in the cloud. While both public cloud services have most of the services, they may differ in some services. A key factor for many businesses is how well a cloud provider can integrate with existing systems.

If you are already using other technologies or systems within your organization, choosing a cloud service provider that can integrate with these systems seamlessly is important. This will ensure that your data and processes are integrated and help avoid unnecessary disruptions.

Most mid to large enterprises adopt a multi-cloud and hybrid-cloud approach. That means they use not only Azure and AWS but also Google, IBM, and even other less know public clouds for different services. For example, Google Cloud may offer better document services, and IBM cloud may offer some specialized machine learning services. One of the most significant factors of using a multi-cloud approach is the cost. If you don't plan properly, your cloud services may cost you more than you can imagine. For example, one cloud may offer cheaper file storage, while another may provide cheaper bulk email service. One cloud may offer more affordable virtual machines, while the other may provide cheaper native cloud resources. One cloud may offer more inexpensive services in one area and zone, while the other may be costlier.

To find the best public cloud service for your business, your architects must evaluate business needs, review costs, availability zones and regions, support, and other services.

10. Hybrid cloud

A hybrid cloud is often used to save costs. However, some services on the public cloud may be much costlier compared to running on-premises or using other specialized cloud services. For example, a scalable live streaming service may be much cheaper than running on Azure or AWS.

We should also remember that some services are cheaper on-premises than in the cloud. For example, if you have ample data storage needed as a backup for legal purposes, it doesn't make sense to store them on a public cloud that is much costlier compared to local storage with a backup. Here is an example. Legally, healthcare documents cannot be destroyed for many years, and businesses need these documents for legal audit purposes, just in case. So, in this case, it doesn't make sense to buy cloud storage and pay monthly unless you do not have an in-house IT team.

11. Choose Specialized Cloud Providers

As I said earlier, some services are so specialized that they are either unavailable on public clouds or too costly. But on the other hand, some specialized services are much cheaper and better than popular public clouds.

CDN (Content Delivery Network) is a service that provides faster services to content delivery. You want to use a CDN when you have tons of content downloaded (images, videos, photos) or traffic downloading some files.

Live Streaming and Video streaming services we used on Azure and AWS were much costlier.

There are much cheaper Word Press hosting services than hosting a Word press website on Azure or AWS.

You can find much cheaper bulk email services than using Azure or AWS.

Finally, consider the reputation of the cloud service provider. Look for a provider with a proven track record of delivering reliable and high-quality solutions. Consider factors such as the provider's history, customer satisfaction, and industry recognition.

The Verdict

So, what is the verdict? Which public cloud service provider is the best for me: Azure, AWS, or Google cloud? The answer is not straightforward. It depends on your business needs and other factors, such as your teams' expertise, cloud service type, etc. If you are a small company, you may get away with using just one of the public cloud service providers. Still, if you are a mid-sized or large enterprise, the ideal solution will probably be a multi-cloud service provider and even hybrid cloud options. That is how we can save the most money and be cost-effective.


In this article, we learned about cloud service providers and understood what a cloud service provider is and who is the top cloud service provider. We also learned how to choose the right cloud provider for your business.

In conclusion, by considering these 11 criteria when selecting a cloud service provider, you can ensure that you choose a provider that meets your specific needs and provides you with the benefits of cloud computing.

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