Which Cloud Service Provide(CSP) Should be Home to your Organisation’s Applications and Data?

For most organizations today, it is no longer a question of whether to adopt cloud. Organizations today have moved to making a decision like whether they want to move wholly or for specific services to the cloud, or which services to move and when to move them. Once these decisions are made, your next step is to select a cloud service provider. It is vital to assess the reliability and capability of a service provider that you plan to entrust with your organization’s applications and data.

Some of the things you may want to consider

  • Availability and usage

One of the very first things to think about is whether your business needs consistent, on-demand, or measured instances. You need to know whether your requirement if of the 24*7 nature or on-demand will work fine for you. Once you have your “availability” requirements chalked out, you need to then evaluate potential cloud providers to see whether their service offers this and how cost-effective it is.

  • Security Considerations

Security on the cloud is of utmost importance, early on it was one of the biggest deterrents in the path of cloud adoption.  Ensure that there is a comprehensive security infrastructure for all levels and types of cloud services. Check what security, access, audit, and compliance controls need to be in place for your business, and can the provider guarantee them? Learn more about whether the CSP adheres to recognized security standards, and ask them to demonstrate their ability to prove that they have the relevant controls in place. Policies and procedures to ensure the integrity of customer data should be in place and operational.

  • Cloud SLAs

Understand the details of how the service is being run. Find out how the supplier handles escalation and service updates. What processes do they use for Problem Management or Major Incident Management, and do they have SLAs? It is important you are in the know-how of the exact details of the Cloud Contract, ensure the way the CSP functions is in line with your needs and requirements. You also need to consider contract flexibility – in particular, whether there are exit or data transfer costs should your organization wish to switch suppliers.

  • Cost

I think this one aspect is something we all do our research well on, so there isn’t much that I can tell you which you wouldn’t already have thought, but remember different cloud providers handle charging in different ways. So it becomes vital to understand the characteristics of the service being migrated. Costs vary dramatically from individual suppliers as well as between providers. For example, Microsoft Azure has five storage options, each with different dependencies. All need to be understood, compared, and evaluated when choosing a service. Overall, you need to find out what is included in the charging model and what that “extra” is. If a cost component for that “extra”, how is it charged and what is the likely impact on overall charges?

  • Technical capabilities and processes

Make sure the provider has mechanisms that make it easy for you to deploy, manage, and upgrade your software and applications. You may want to check on whether the CSP has a formal system for event management which is integrated with its monitoring/management system. One very important aspect here is to check on their Hybrid capabilities; even if you don’t plan to use a hybrid cloud initially, you should make sure the provider can support this model. It has advantages that you may wish to exploit at a later time.

  • Downtime Provisioning

Downtime is a period of time when a service is effectively not accessible to users. The best answer to this critical question is NEVER however that isn’t realistic. Nonetheless, even the largest and most respected cloud vendors experience downtime from time to time.

Since cloud outages can be costly and quite disruptive for one’s business, it’s best to opt out for a vendor that has as few as possible. It’s also vital that the company takes an open and transparent approach to incidents when they do happen.

Lastly, to choose the best cloud provider, always be on the guard for a highly available and efficient support system for your organization, after all, it's going to be a multi-year relationship that you are starting. You should have online access to customer support 24/7/365, without any exceptions, including holidays. Some vendors include this for free, others charge varying amounts for it and it’s quite critical to have if you are putting any important business services in the cloud.

Runa Tripathy

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