Seven questions to ask when choosing a cloud service provider

Dan Allaby, Director of Managed and Cloud Services, Avnet Technology Solutions

Dan Allaby, Director of Managed and Cloud Services, Avnet Technology Solutions

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Although selecting a cloud provider may not be the most important decision you make in life, it might be one of the most important for your business. Choosing who to trust your critical workloads and sensitive data with can be a daunting process – not to mention a risky one if you don’t do your research. Whether you’re a small business or a large organization, a value-added reseller or an end user, there are several considerations to factor in when searching for a cloud provider that will meet your needs.

I’ve created a checklist below, and although the order may not be specific to the order of importance for your needs, it can be used as a starting point in your search and help you in finding the right cloud provider as they relate to your business.

  • Cost Model – Does the pricing for core services and flexible consumption model match your needs? What flexibility exists with the cloud providers in the way you can consume their services? Can you buy by the hour? Can you pay upfront for the month? Ask for cost models and see that it matches your workload requirements.
  • Availability – What’s the overall reliability of the cloud provider’s services? Do they have a history of downtime? Check statistics that are published and look at their historical trends. Make sure your cloud services provider offers services and data centers that support easy-to-architect infrastructure for physical and logical redundancy models.
  • Services Portfolio – Today’s cloud providers often have wide breadth of services, ranging from raw infrastructure all the way up to Platform as a Service (PaaS). Make sure the provider you choose has a strong set of services and offerings across IaaS (infrastructure as a service) – for example, compute, storage, network and security, and PaaS – for example, content delivery, business intelligence, and database – to support various requirements.
  • Managed Services – Are you looking for a provider that will assist you in installation, configuration and management of your applications? Ask about the services each provider offers on top of the core infrastructure that can either replace or augment your capabilities and/or requirements.
  • Application-Driven Infrastructure – Application demands on infrastructure vary based on peak access demand periods and batch-processing requirements. Does the cloud provider offer automation capabilities to allow applications to provision and deprovision infrastructure to minimize cost and maximize performance?
  • Security – Obviously one of the largest considerations when choosing a cloud provider. Make sure they provide configurable security services for accessing, managing and deploying cloud IaaS to support your workloads. Review each cloud provider’s policies and procedures, as well as governance and compliance certifications.
  • Global Coverage – Most organizations today are servicing their stakeholders and customers across various regions around the globe. Can I create and/or easily migrate my workloads to different regions from a central location? Make sure they can match your global requirements and make sure the cloud provider has coverage there.

A few other considerations to factor in include how you’ll access your cloud and what kind of support services they offer, as well as if they can scale up to meet your business needs. All of these items need to be weighed and measured against the requirements of your business and the workloads you need to operate successfully.

Although the above might be just a high-level overview of areas to focus on when determining if a cloud provider is going to meet your needs, it’s a good place to start. Use the list to help you determine the key areas of consideration, but understand the priorities of your company as they relate to your business. If I missed something on the list, or you have any questions in your transition to the cloud, contact me at