6 things to look for in a cloud service provider
Cloud computing is a revolutionary technology, but the vendors that offer these solutions are not created equal. In fact, there is a wide spectrum of quality and service that cloud providers bring to the table, and you need to know exactly what to look for in your search.
As Patrick Li from Business 2 Community asserted, the primary goal of a cloud solution is to make a positive impact on business processes – something that should be top of mind for CIOs and IT managers searching for a cloud vendor. Here’s a look at six key criteria you must consider as you seek the ultimate cloud partnership.
1. Pre-deployment capabilities: Before the first cloud application is launched, you need to determine what your company wants to achieve by migrating to a hosted environment. A top-tier provider will be there to discuss strategic options – such as deployment types and tactics – and ensure the maximization of capital resources.
“Determine whether an SLA is supported by the proper technology.”
Partnering with a service provider who can help with the evaluation, design, and planning of application usage, as well as the reliability and availability of communication resources, is a necessary partnership investment. A short and focused consultative meeting can pay off in a big way when you have a clear vision for your cloud laid out from the start.
2. Service level agreement strength: Every cloud provider will have a detailed service level agreement as a part of its contract creation process. However, it’s up to you to determine whether these SLAs are the real deal. This will require a bit of hands-on investigation, and a willingness to read the fine print in the SLA literature.
Also, be sure to compare the SLA to the provider’s actual offerings and capabilities. Gain a thorough understanding of how the provider builds for reliability and test that by soliciting customer feedback and testimonials on their experience. This will help you evaluate the capabilities of the provider in a clear and systematic manner.
3. Longevity, resilience and reputation: Although the modern cloud computing market hasn’t been around for very long, it’s important to note the longevity of the service provider as a testament to its resilience.
Be sure to ask the tough questions about the vendor’s history and get the truth. Also, seeking references and testimonials from similar customers is prudent. Either search the Web for this information or go directly to the source and find out for yourself.
4. Variety and quality of tech offerings: This is the bread and butter of the search for stellar cloud partnerships, and a top-notch provider will have a wide variety of services in their arsenal. From infrastructure to applications, evaluate the role the vendor can deliver.
Do you only require compute cycles and data storage resources or is your need more about the administration and management of the platform on which your application will reside? Your company’s needs should be clearly reflected by the provider’s offerings for the best fit.
5. Security and compliance adherence: Security is often cited as a cloud concern, but the best service providers offer total peace of mind for their clients, even in periods of change and uncertainty. The key question here is: Will the service provider be diligent in its assurances of security being applied to critical IT assets?
Many providers carry attestations. These audits are to attest that the providers are following industry best practice disciplines in their operations. They also carry compliance certifications such as PCI or HIPAA. Pinpoint your company’s compliance needs and select a cloud partner accordingly. It could save you money, time and plenty of headaches.
6. Clear costs and value added features: Transparency is a key part of any cloud deployment, from IT performance to financial statements. Determine exactly what the cloud provider is bringing to the table and assess whether this value is clear and worthwhile.
A full service provider has all the requisite skills to manage computing and storage, and at the same time can be a trusted advisor and partner in IT changes to meet your business needs. The evaluation of a service provider should include the value add to the business that it brings – not just the cost per cycle used.