New cloud provider? Avoid getting nickeled and dimed

Danny Bradbury

Sometimes, customers using email archiving and security services in the cloud are forced to switch service providers. Perhaps an existing cloud provider is exiting the business, or a business relationship simply isn’t working out. Whatever the reason, it’s a good time to examine costs.

It is crucial to understand your new service provider’s pricing schedule, as they may have a different pricing structure to your old one. Here are five aspects that you should watch for to protect yourself from being nickeled and dimed by your new supplier.

1.    Maintenance and upgrades for email security

Email-SecurityCloud service providers should provide you with a reliable, high-performance service and shield you from their inner mechanics. Any extra costs relating to routine system maintenance issues should be absorbed by the provider, and that includes any costs involved in upgrading the back-end software used to manage how you archive your emails and your security service.

2.    Support from your cloud provider

Remote-SupportWhen it comes to support, any extra costs to the client over and above a basic level should be highlighted up front. Will you be charged for support responses within a certain time window? Are you only given a specific number of free support queries a month before being forced to open your chequebook? Ensure that you know what you’re getting, and map the support from your cloud provider included in the pricing of your service against your internal needs.

3.    Data export and import

movingdata Cloud email archiving solutions aren’t something that you want to change lightly. Moving data from one cloud service provider to another can be a complex process, even with the best data management systems and streamlined processes. It can also be expensive.

Here’s the dirty little secret of infrastructure-based cloud services such as Microsoft’s Azure and Amazon Web Services: you can import your data for free, but it will cost you to get it outLarge volumes can mount up. It’s important to understand any such costs in other cloud-based services where lots of data is involved, such as email archiving.

Before you move to a new provider, make sure that you understand how much, if anything, they’re going to charge you to export your data when you decide to leave.

While you’re at it, check out their import fees. Many companies will provide professional import services that can make your life easier. If so, check to see whether these are optional, and be sure that the provider is honest and transparent about their import service price up front.

Contractual small print with service providers
The three most dreaded words in the history of computing are ‘vendor lock-in’. It was a problem back in the days of the mainframe, and it’s a concern today. Cloud email archiving service providers may offer you a long-term contract to help reduce costs, but before signing, satisfy yourself on a few points:

  • Be sure that service quality is sufficient (perhaps with a 30-day trial or an initial short-term contract)
  • Check to see what service level guarantees the provider offers, to ensure that performance stays up to par
  • Find out what happens if you need to end a contract early. Are there get-out clauses?

There’s nothing wrong with a long-term contract as long as you’ve thought it through properly, but be sure you don’t get stung at the back end if you decide that the relationship isn’t working out.

4.    Chargeable features

MoneyThis is a big one to watch, and it affects both email security and archiving offerings. Some organizations may offer features such as virtual sandboxing to analyze email attachments, but you may have to pay an extra fee for them. This creates a two-tier service, in which you must pay extra for true peace of mind.

When you archive email, be careful that providers aren’t charging more for services that seem like they should be free, suchas email aliases or sibling domains. If there are features that a service provider can legitimately charge for (like larger mailboxes, for example), then make sure that you understand how that pricing structure works. Then map the extra charges against your archive email needs to ensure that the overall cost will be manageable.

Switching providers is sometimes a necessity, but you needn’t get tangled up in unreasonable charges along the way. Defining and understanding those costs up front may take a little extra time, but it could save you money in the long run.