As businesses begin to move their data and application functions into the cloud, choosing the right cloud provider is the biggest decision to make. The question isn’t about what the cloud can do for you, but how can you trust the provider in getting the job done. Not just any provider will suffice. Some basic questions should be included in your evaluation for the right cloud provider.
What am I using the cloud for?
Most companies will begin using the cloud for storage as an easily accessible and simple service to access. However, many providers do not extend their services beyond basic storage so dedicated enterprise IT vendors required to meet other needs. Determining your cloud needs for the long-term future and direct your search for a vendor capable of meeting all needs, or consider employing services from multiple providers to meet different needs.
What are my company’s workload requirements?
Some business operations are static in nature; they have limited IT requirements that are relatively stable over the course of a workday or workweek. Other operations may fluctuate drastically over time – even between months. Subsequently, the demand for cloud resources may also vary with time and function. Some organizations undertake data-centric operations that must be regulated and therefore face strong requirements pertaining to security, privacy and auditability. Some operations interact with multiple internal and external sources, thereby increasing the amount of data traffic. Potential cloud providers will need the right levels of performance, security and reliability to support workload-specific IT needs.
What services does the cloud provider provide?
Respectable service providers will have a portfolio of services, a comprehensive description of each service they offer, the key performance indicators and evaluation of current performance against those indicators. A cloud provider may have a single service to meet multiple workload types or have multiple services to meet particular needs. Generally speaking, different services are offered at different prices and can be beneficial for the discriminating business types. Below are some concepts to explore in a provider’s portfolio:
Interoperability – This characteristic defines the capability of working across multiple environments, such as running an application on a public cloud while its data is stored on a private cloud. How interoperability will be defined across multiple cloud providers will differ significantly. Determine exactly how each potential provider sees their capability.
Proprietary – Often not discovered until it’s too late, each cloud provider may run its service in a unique environment which makes it difficult to transfer functionality to another cloud provider either technically or legally. So should you find a reason to end the relationship with a particular cloud provider, you may lose all your functionality, or worse, data.
Flexibility – How well does the cloud service meet the different, changing requirements for the different workloads it is expected to support? How much will special configurations cost?
Service Level Agreements – Read the fine print and ask multiple questions about the provider’s service levels and the rights of the customer during certain service conditions, such as outages, disasters, and data theft.
Security – What steps are being taken to secure and protect data assets? How fast can the service provider react to a different types of security problems and what will they do in reacting?
Can I trust this cloud provider?
Trust often goes beyond competence of a cloud provider. Find out if you build a long-term relationship with your potential cloud vendor. Though cloud computing is relatively new, the problems it solves are old. What is the provider’s experience in managing data centers, providing secure hosting, and delivering on application requirements? Is the cloud provider simply looking to enter into a lucrative market or are they committed to a clear vision and investing appropriately to be the best provider possible? Do they have the time and technical expertise to support your business through a well-maintained customer service program?
Many businesses have been testing the waters of cloud computing with easily accessible services before making a fully established commitment. Experimenting can be beneficial. Asking the right questions upfront will ensure a successful adoption of cloud computing.
Contact us to learn how HOSTING can help guide you to cloud success. You can also download our complimentary white paper, 20 Questions to Ask When Selecting a Cloud Service Provider, for more information.