Not all cloud solutions are created equal

The cloud is an obvious choice for businesses looking to cut costs, increase efficiency, and enable workforce mobility. But while opting for cloud solutions is an easy decision for companies to make, they’re not all built the same. Cloud solutions have differing deployment models, service offerings, features, and security controls. Understanding these differences is key to finding a solution that fits your business.

Deployment model

Cloud solutions come in three different modules: public, private, and hybrid. Each deployment model comes with a unique set of benefits and drawbacks, and the one you choose depends entirely on your business requirements.

  • Public

The public cloud is a service where computing resources (e.g., processing power and storage) and the solution are owned and managed by a cloud services provider and delivered over the internet. In a way, you can think of using the public cloud as renting a fully furnished server in an off-site facility.

Due to its cost-effectiveness, public cloud solutions are best suited to scale with a company’s growth. However, data privacy and compliance can be an issue for public clouds because servers are often shared with other companies (or tenants). This means their subpar data management practices can jeopardize your files, which is problematic for businesses with strict security requirements.

  • Private

The private cloud provides an infrastructure that’s exclusive to each client. It’s designed to give organizations more control over their data and how it’s protected, making it ideal for adhering to data security policies.

But such levels of control can be pricey. Private clouds can incur higher fees than public clouds because of the additional infrastructure and customized configurations required to deploy them. Additionally, maintenance and upgrades can be expensive if you’re not working with an affordable cloud service provider.

  • Hybrid

A hybrid environment is a happy middle ground between the public and the private cloud. For example, your company can use the private cloud for managing sensitive records and the public cloud for dynamic processes. This way, you’ll be able to enjoy the cost-effectiveness and on-demand scalability of the public cloud and the control and security the private cloud guarantees.


Each cloud solution offers different features and benefits for businesses. Some cloud-based document management system (DMS) software, for instance, may have more powerful document capture and search functions than others. Meanwhile, certain solutions may not have the robust workflow automation features you need to eliminate paper-centric processes.

Whatever you decide on, make sure it’s user-friendly, updated frequently, and compatible with your existing applications. If possible, ask the cloud provider for a free demo of their solution. This can give you valuable insight into the app’s features so you can decide whether it’s the right fit for your business.

Cybersecurity and compliance

High-level protections are critical if you’re migrating sensitive data to the cloud, especially if you’re governed by security standards like PCI DSS and HIPAA. Ideally, this means your solution must be protected with web application firewalls, intrusion prevention systems (IPS), data access restrictions, and encryption software. If these layers of security are missing from the proposed cloud solution, you should look for better alternatives.

Consider data backups as well. Does the provider store copies of data in multiple servers? Does the solution adhere to data retention policies? Are backup and recovery procedures tested regularly? Asking these questions are important when deciding on a suitable cloud solution.

Management and support

Last but not least, closely examine a provider’s service level agreements (SLAs) before moving forward. These SLAs detail the level of support, response times, and uptime minimums you can expect from a provider, as well as penalty clauses if they fail to meet them.

Look for providers that guarantee round-the-clock support, proactive software patching, same-day issue turnaround times, and 99.9% system availability. If you require implementation, training, and integration services, make sure to negotiate this in your SLAs. Top-notch providers often cater to their client’s needs.

The one important lesson you should learn from this is there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all cloud solution. In fact, you’ll likely feel restricted in what you can achieve unless your cloud solution is designed with your business in mind.

If you’re looking for a flexible cloud platform, check out PaperSave. We offer intelligent features, cybersecurity protections, and high-quality SLAs that can be configured to your requirements. Sign up for a free personalized demo today to learn more.

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— Joe Crupper, CPA, Director of General and Trust Accounting at Free Methodist Foundation

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