Choosing the right cloud platform is a non-trivial task.
According to one recent study, about 94% of all enterprises already use some cloud service daily – a trend that shows absolutely no signs of slowing down anytime soon. The public cloud service market is expected to hit an incredible $623.3 billion worldwide by as soon as 2023 – an enormous amount of growth over the last decade.
But at the same time, there’s a reason why the average person uses roughly 36 different cloud-based services every day – because not all providers are created equally. For a CIO in the process of researching which service or solution would be suitable for their business, even figuring out where to begin can often feel like an uphill battle.
Thankfully, this process is only as complex as you choose to make it. If you want to make sure that you’re selecting the right cloud platform to meet your needs and exceed your expectations, there are a few key things to keep in mind.
Choosing the Right Cloud Platform – Factors to Consider
Certifications and Standards
To be an ideal candidate for a cloud platform provider, they need to show that they comply with all recognized standards and quality frameworks. They also need to demonstrate that they are staying up-to-date on all industry best practices and related standards.
Beyond that, make sure that you’re selecting an accredited provider with certifications relevant to your industry. Compliance with ISO 27001, for example, means that the provider is better equipped to handle and secure things like financial information, intellectual property, employee details, and more.
Technologies and Service Roadmap
Any cloud provider that you choose to go with should offer you a unique collection of technologies built with your specific organization in mind. They should be proactive about understanding your business, what you need your cloud platform to do, and why it is crucial to your long-term goals.
At that point, they should be able to offer you the type of technologies and service roadmap that, when combined with their technical expertise, make it easy to accomplish your objectives moving forward.
Data Security, Data Governance and Business Policies
At a bare minimum, the company behind your new cloud platform should have a formal management structure and established risk management policies. They should also have a formal process used to assess third-party service providers and vendors.
Service Dependencies and Partnerships
Look into a provider’s relationships with key vendors in terms of their technical prowess and accreditation levels, staff certifications, and more. What subcontractors are they working with? Are any of the services they’re offering you dependent on another partnership? What happens if one of those “links in the chain” were suddenly unavailable – what happens to the service that you’ve already invested in? These are all critical questions to answer before you choose a provider to go with.
Contracts and SLAs
Regarding Service Level Agreements and the contracts that you’ll be asked to sign, any cloud platform provider should be able to guarantee you a basic level of service that you are satisfied with. An SLA will clearly define service delivery, which includes elements like the roles and responsibilities of all parties, the provider’s approach to service management, the guaranteed level of service availability, and even efforts that the provider will make in terms of disaster recovery and service continuity.
Ensure that you’re comfortable with these terms and conditions moving forward to ensure that you don’t run into any surprises later on.
Reliability and Performance
Any cloud platform provider should have technologies in place that make it easy for you to deploy and manage your new environment. They should also offer you support as you work to upgrade your legacy software and applications into more modernized equivalents.
Along the same lines, your cloud provider should offer standard APIs and other interfaces so that you can quickly build new connections to the platform as the need arises. They should have a formal process in place for requesting, approving, and accepting changes. They should also offer some standard system for event management that makes sure that even if unexpected issues do occur, the right people are notified as quickly as possible so that they can do something about it.
Migration Support, Vendor Lock-In, and Exit Planning
Any cloud platform provider you choose to work with should offer you a significant amount of support during the planning phases, all to make your migration from your old environment to your new one as easy as possible.
During this period, you also need to inquire about the cloud platform provider’s policy regarding vendor lock-in. Suppose you are being forced to commit to a single vendor. In that case, it creates an over-reliance on the ongoing stability and performance (as well as other vital factors like pricing) of a single company. If a better solution comes along later, you may not be in a position to take advantage of it – thus forcing you to contend with inferior technology.
To avoid vendor lock risk, make sure the cloud platform provider you are working with only uses the bare minimum of proprietary technology. Likewise, try not to use any services that may limit your opportunity to migrate or move away from the platform in the future.
This is why you’ll also want to make exit planning a significant part of your cloud platform selection process. You need to prepare some migration plan if you need to use it, and it’s in your best interest to understand the situation now before the situation becomes urgent later on. Please find out about this process before you sign your contract, make sure you know how you will access your data, what state it will be in, and the entire time the provider will have access to it.
Business Health and Company Profile
Finally, any cloud provider you choose to go with should have a proven track record of sustainability. They should be in a solid financial position with the type of capital needed to operate for many years, guaranteeing that they will still be around to offer you their services well into the future.
Beyond that, remember that you should trust any cloud provider that you choose to go with. Look into their reputation and see what other companies they do business with. Research the company’s level of cloud experience. Read as many reviews as you can find, and don’t be afraid to reach out and talk to customers who are in a similar situation to you. Doing so can help generate the peace-of-mind that only comes with knowing you’ve finally found a cloud platform that meets your needs.
In the end, one must acknowledge that the cloud is nothing if not malleable – meaning that not every provider is going to mesh well with every type of business. But by making an effort first to consider what you need the cloud to be, and then by using the criteria above to find a provider that aligns with those expectations, you’ll put yourself in an excellent position to enjoy all the benefits of the cloud with a few of the potential downsides as possible.
Do you need help choosing the Right Cloud Platform? One of our consultants may be able to help in the assessment, contracting, planning, and migration. Please touch base with us.