The end of the year is approaching—the perfect time for your business to review your budget for cloud-based projects for the upcoming year. Today’s biggest cloud providers are offering a similar set of basic services at comparable prices. How do you navigate your way through all of the options and pick the right solution for you?
The following five questions will help you to closely examine your needs and define the next steps in your transformation journey.
1. Does the cloud provider offer features you need or will need in future?
If you compare apples to apples, you start to notice that basic services are almost the same, but when you look under the hood or at specific services, you’ll begin to notice that there are nuances that will influence your decision. Basic compute needs like instances, storage and security are well covered on today’s cloud market. You might discover the difference in areas like hosted database service, big data, network connectivity and integration of container services. Billing and discount models will definitely be different so you want to choose the one that’s right for you. Cloud providers build their own solutions to cover customers needs and that’s why we see so many cloud-specific services that make partnership sticky. Obviously, it’s not that easy to cover everything, and you will see that some of the services you need are well covered and others are covered with the help of pre-baked solutions from cloud provider engineers or by 3rd party partners. Check with your engineers and make sure they are confident with the speed and priorities of the new features delivery as well as the integrations that the cloud provider has, also taking future plans into consideration.
2. Is the cloud provider’s security and compliance models aligned with what your business and your customer require?
Signing the contract establishes the partnership with someone you trust, someone you trust with the data of your customers. Cloud providers help you to extend your business to new regions and to protect your business. Modern businesses need to consider security and compliance as part of their success. Your customers should be comfortable not only with procedures established by you, but also with the procedures established by all companies you partner with, and the cloud provider is no exception. Cloud providers are proactively working on security and compliance certifications. You may need to check what their processes look like when it comes down to storing customers data, encryption, DR, tracking and physical security. You may also want to check historical data on how long it took the cloud provider to implement security controls and checks on the new compliance requirements. The timelines you may predict shouldn’t be a surprise to you.
3. Does the accessibility and region coverage satisfy your current and future needs?
One of the reasons to move to the cloud is to be more accessible and closer to your customers. You want to make sure that the cloud provider has a presence in the geographic areas you’re working in or will operate in the future. Features that are critical for you may not be available across all the regions/datacenters/points of your potential cloud provider.
In case if you’re planning to use multiple regions you need to figure out how and how fast the data can be transferred between them. It might also cost extra.
Initial data transfer into the cloud can also be done in various ways; explore the options available to you.
Your connectivity from the office or your datacenter matters too. Ask your potential cloud provider about physical or VPN connectivity with your existing infrastructure. They might have specific requirements or recommendations on how to establish secure connectivity with the cloud infrastructure.
4. Will it be cost effective to maintain the services of the cloud provider?
It’s easy to support something you already know. You may start with the cloud provider that you’re most comfortable working with. Every cloud provider has a set of tools to maintain their infrastructure, and you might want to allow your engineers to pick the most convenient option that best meets your business needs. Ask the cloud provider you’re most likely to go with to provide the training for your teams, ask for a test environment with a small credit to get engineers to become familiar with the cloud infrastructure and toolset. A few cloud providers can bring in engineers and architects and spend time with your team to figure out your transformation strategy. You always have the option to engage with the partner who will bring in required expertise and help in establishing processes of working with the cloud provider.
5. Will you receive the right level of support and partnership from the cloud provider?
Support of the cloud infrastructure is the same as any other infrastructure. Check SLA numbers and make sure that you and your customers agree with them. Being covered by the contract is not enough. Always challenge your cloud provider with questions about their availability, reliability, and performance of their infrastructure and services. Different cloud services could have different availability and you need to make sure that your customers agree with these numbers. Ask your cloud provider about how they deal with escalating issues that are critical to the business. Get to know your potential support, success and account managers. Figure out how approachable and responsive to your needs they are.
Look at your cloud provider as your business partner. Signing the deal is great, but look for the opportunity of building long-lasting relationships that are enable both parties to succeed. Ask your cloud provider about what types of partnership they are open to.
Moving towards cloud services is a long journey, and depending on cloud provider you pick it could be a smooth ride or a bumpy road. Get advice from your trusted partner about the cloud provider that fits your business needs the most. Moving off from one cloud provider to another is hard but possible–choose the right one.
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