Even the simplest project can fail if “support” is the lack that end users experience. Transferring your mission-critical data to a third party service provider over the Internet is by no means an un-ambitious endeavor. Lack of adequate support can be crippling.

You should look at your service provider as a partner who is bringing a specific skill set to your business. Tour service provider’s skills should leave you free to develop the skill sets you possess. If you can truly say that your service provider does that, you have gained much in the partnership. If not, you should look around for a partner who gives you that freedom!

At a global level, cloud based services should abstract hardware and software infrastructure maintenance from your enterprise while optimizing on the existing hardware that you already possess. All upgrades of hardware or software should be the responsibility of the service provider and these upgrades should happen unobtrusively without downtime or shut downs of any kind. The data systems should be always available to you. It should be infinitely scalable, and trouble shooting activities at the service provider’s end should seamlessly switch you on to the provider’s “hot site” or “disaster recovery site” for operational convenience of your business. Digital disaster recovery procedures must be part of the portfolio offerings and data replication services or mirroring services must be automatic. Compliance to legal mandates must be built into the process of backing up or archiving customer information.

At the operational level, you must be supported in conducting your day to day activities and should be in a position to contact or refer back your problems to technical experts provided by the service provider. Customers availing of their services should be confident that they can expect a 99.99% uptime. Ideally, the service provider must have a help desk facility that registers complaints from customers via email or telephone 24 x 7 x 365 and responds to such complaints within 24 to 48 hours. The service provider should actively monitor the health of the different customer accounts and should proactively draw their attention to any unusual activity or attempts at compromising the account. Software alerts must be configured into the system to automatically trigger off warnings when unscheduled activities are recorded or noticed.

In short, cloud based support services must enhance your ROI. It must testify to the maturity of the data storage model being marketed by your partner to help you in your unique business opportunity.