10 Top Cloud Tips

By Doug Barney

There is no shortage of tips about the cloud, and so it is no surprise that the Business 2 Community website just posted an article titled “10 Things to Consider When Choosing a Cloud Service Provider,” by Patrick Li.

As Executive Editor of Cloud Computing magazine, I have at least of couple of cloud chops, so let’s see how Li stands up to a little scrutiny.

If you looking for a low-end service like Google Apps, Dropbox or Carbonite, the decision is pretty simple.

But there is far more to the cloud than that – SaaS, IaaS, PaaS, high-end hosting and backup and recovery add huge levels of complexity.

Li starts with the most obvious point – price. “Make sure you look at the pricing plans before purchasing a package. Whilst some cloud vendors claim to have the cheapest rates, this won’t spare you on upfront payments and any long-term contracts. Sign up for a cloud account that offers flexible pricing and allows you to scale up and down according to your IT needs,” Li wrote.

Anyone who doesn’t look at the pricing plan before buying is a dope. And pricing for the cloud is far from simple, with an array of usage and pure subscription-based plans. For high-end services, a lot of research is needed before signing on the bottom line.

Next up is expertise. You want to make the provider knows the technology they are providing. Customer referrals can be key here. Also, how deep is the Web site? Are there expert blogs and white papers? How do they stand up to questioning?

Reliability is next on the agenda. “How reliable is the cloud vendor? Can the cloud servers consistently handle robust bandwidth and data exchange in uptime? Make sure you partner with a reliable hosting provider that can manage the entire hosting environment, especially if your website receives robust traffic in uptime,” Li argues. Often times, your provider is white labeling someone else’s service, so find out who the source is.

The finances of the provider are also critical. “You must consider the financial stability of the cloud vendor. The number of years of experience (more than 10 years is recommended) and its position in the stock market are significant factors to consider. Get the latest updates on the cloud vendor’s stock prices, earnings and financial reports to help you decide which would be best for you,” Li said.

Of course figuring out the finances of a private company can be difficult, but you should press for as much information as possible, even a Dun & Bradstreet report.

Having a service that is easy to manage is also important. “The cloud service provider should have an easy management system for the IT staff to manage, control and maintain with efficiency and simplicity. Find a cloud vendor that allows you to view the entire servers in a single unified interface,” Li said. Li was pretty spot on, except that one can go with an MSP where they do all the management heavy lifting.

Li also thinks you should look for a provider that is customer driven. Part of that involves the level of support, how easy it is to reach a real live expert.

Transparency is also a requirement. “Aside from the transparent pricing plans, you must take a look at the managed service level agreements, security and data policies and terms of service of the cloud service provider. The last thing you would want to do is compromise your clients’ private information and experience outage during peak seasons,” Li believes.

How well the provider can integrate you on-premises is also of concern. The more you can migrate to the cloud, the more you can potentially benefit.

Coming in ninth is openness, and here you are looking for support of common standards and the ability to move your virtual machines to the cloud.

And last is network ownership, and this goes back to my point about white labeling. You need to know who actually owns the network and what kind of partnerships and peering arrangements are in place.

MSPToday Editor at Large

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