August 16, 2018
Selecting the right cloud services provider can be easier said than done. Companies can now choose from a myriad of service providers from giants like Microsoft and Amazon to niche players offering bespoke services. While migrating to the cloud in and of itself comes with a plethora of benefits, forging the right partnerships is critical for long-term success.
Before embarking on the search for a cloud services provider, it is paramount to collaborate with internal stakeholders to agree on scope, budget and minimum expectations. Coming up with a checklist before looking at any potential providers ensures your company will not deviate from its highest priorities in the process.
Ensuring a cloud provider matches your top priorities will maximize your return on investment. This is especially important if your cloud goals are targeted toward a certain business aspect such as analytics, customer experience or global scalability. Find out which potential cloud service partners provide specific areas of expertise.
Terms and Vendor Flexibility
Aside from capabilities and costs, terms and conditions can also play a major role in strategic compatibility with cloud services providers. The industry lacks standardization of contracts, service level agreements, and terms. It is of utmost importance to identify policy factors to clarify risk, commitment, and expectations. Some of the key elements to discuss upfront include service deliverables, data policies and protection, business terms, legal protections, service level agreements, and pricing variables.
While thinking about an exit strategy may seem counterintuitive at the initial selection phase, also consider vendor lock-in. Vendor lock-in often results from the use of proprietary technologies not compatible with those of competitors. Cloud services that rely on bespoke services may make it more difficult to bring in other vendors or move operations in-house.
When screening any potential vendors, a major consideration for all companies is cost. Cost for cloud providers can vary widely depending on the scope and services required. It’s imperative that companies estimate the total cost of ownership (TCO) for their cloud programs. Some of the top cost elements to consider include usage cycle, hosting model type (i.e. private or public cloud), variable costs, costs of internal management, transition costs and IT lifecycle costs. Despite the number of costs to consider, nearly all organizations that migrate to the loud from on-premise systems realize savings overall.
At Attunix we offer cost monitoring as part of our cloud management services. Attunix CIOinsight™ provides predictive tools that track usage patterns, preemptive alerts, and the power to catch potential wasteful spend before it occurs. It offers deep insights into your existing and anticipated costs so you can make smarter decisions and improve on your cloud ROI.
One of the primary motivations behind utilizing cloud services is scalability. Public clouds allow for customers to take advantage of the cloud server infrastructure of the hosting company. Once applications are migrated to the cloud, employees can immediately utilize them from any computer globally. When looking into cloud providers, consider the scale required to support your current organization while considering growth potential over the next few years.
Security and Governance
With the increasing frequency and intensity of cyber attacks and data breaches, security needs to remain a top priority for companies when selecting any service provider. A common misconception is that local data storage serves as the best option for security. However, the cloud often proves to be more secure than local storage in most cases.
One of the ways to evaluate the security of a cloud services provider is by the certifications and standards they uphold. While specific certifications may not serve as the deciding factor, they can help narrow down the list. Some of the common cybersecurity standards include ISO 27001, Cyber Essentials Scheme and ISAE 3402.
As companies become increasingly global, data governance is becoming increasingly local. Before looking into cloud service providers, make sure your organization clearly understands where data is housed, who it pertains to and what local jurisdictions apply. Compliance with standards such as GDPR is imperative for the selection process.
Reliability and Performance
One of the ways to verify reliability and performance of a cloud service provider is by checking their performance against SLAs in the last 6-12 months. Some providers publish this information while others can provide this information if asked. When looking at SLA performance, do not expect perfection as downtime is inevitable for any cloud provider. Make sure the provider can easily integrate monitoring and analytics tools to track performance. Familiarize yourself with liabilities of the provider should issues arise or disasters strike.
Finally, a keystone of reliability is disaster recovery. Almost all cloud service providers will list this as a component in their proposal. At Attunix we provide a service called RapidRecovery™ which is a managed service that ensures business continuity through a holistic, strategic approach to disaster recovery. It provides a skilled team of cloud experts to plan, build, and operate a recovery strategy, and when disaster strikes, Attunix is there 24/7 to execute the failover and recover the service.
Support and Managed Services
Once up and running, how will the vendor support your organization? Does the vendor hold a negative reputation when it comes to service tickets? Depending on the level of expertise in-house, your organization may need a higher level of ongoing support. In some cases, customer support may lead your end users to a call center or a chatbot which some companies may not deem acceptable.
One of the ways companies can ensure they reap the full benefits of their cloud services is by hiring a cloud managed services provider. At Attunix we partner with you to ensure your cloud investment
satisfies your vision, goals, and challenges, giving you a cloud roadmap that harnesses the full potential of your IT. This includes a full suite of managed services including digital transformation strategy, disaster recovery, cost monitoring, infrastructure management, and application management.