What other questions or observations can I use?
See if the provider offers 24/7 phone support that's toll-free in your area. If a person answers your call rather than a recording, that's a plus.
Are there other security concerns to consider as I expand my e-commerce capabilities?
Determine if the host provides secure hosting using SSL, and a "Shopping Cart." SSL is necessary to collect credit-card payments on your site.
What about security concerns, if any, under cloud computing?
Generally, cloud computing solutions have focused on large enterprises, but solutions are becoming more germane and better focused on challenges impacting SMBs. You should look specifically at a Web-hosting provider that recognizes how different the needs of SMBs are than those of enterprise organizations. What the "cloud" offers, basically, is a way to leverage the resources of the Internet, such as increasing capacity or adding capabilities on the fly without investing in new infrastructure, training new personnel, or licensing new software. It encompasses many subscription-based or pay-per-use hosting services that, in real time, extends existing IT capabilities.
In addition, cloud-computing services provide additional dynamic and on-demand features that SMBs will find advantageous. These services may also prove valuable as an SMB's business grows. With the click of a button, SMBs can upgrade services with their provider and better serve new customers.
Clearly, security is -- and should be -- of critical concern to SMBs, especially if they engage heavily in e-commerce. Until recently, there was a perception that cyberattacks were something only enterprises should worry about. But as hackers persist and get more sophisticated, SMBs are getting very serious about protecting their information and securing their data. Which is why it is critical for small businesses to address security concerns as they expand their online presence.
Mitch Merrifield is senior director of managed computing solutions for Verio.