How to choose a cloud partner – 13 factors to consider

If the cloud is an integral part of your IT strategy, choosing the right cloud partner is one of the most important decisions you must make. Here are 13 factors to consider that will help you chose a cloud partner that is right for your business.

1. Technology stack

To contain costs, maximise ROI and accelerate deployment, you want a provider whose technology stack is compatible with your own. As well as using the same hypervisor technology, their hardware and connectivity needs to be reliable, fast and resilient. The platform must outperform your own.

2. Public or Private

Public cloud platforms offer multi-tenancy solutions to share resources and contain costs. Private cloud offers dedicated infrastructure for each client. Although carefully configured to prevent data passing between tenants’ instances, public cloud may not be suitable for your most sensitive workloads. Make sure any prospective supplier offers the right cloud formats for your workloads.

3. Management responsibilities

Maintaining the underlying infrastructure and connectivity is the responsibility of the provider – but what else do they offer? Can you spin up your own instances or allocate virtual resources, or is that handled by the provider too? Understanding these responsibilities will also help to understand the ongoing costs and staffing requirements.

4. Infrastructure transparency

By ceding control of the underlying infrastructure, cloud services do not offer the same degree of visibility as your on-premise data centre. Make sure that you understand the tools required to deliver business value and whether they can be used on the platform being evaluated – or if the provider offers an equivalent toolset.

5. The route to the cloud

There are many routes to the cloud – you need to pick the option that balances speed, future-readiness and cost. You need to understand the data and workloads that need to be migrated, and how it will be moved. Does the provider offer a managed migration service to help plug skills and knowledge gaps within your own team?

6. Third-party networking support

Pure cloud deployments are extremely rare – you will probably continue to run at least some of your operations in-house. You need to understand whether the provider offers support for the third party network technologies that connect on-premise with the cloud, and to what degree. Will your provider assume all the risk, some, or none at all?

7. Physical hosting options

If you operate any form of hosted infrastructure or co-located systems, it makes sense to consolidate them where possible. If your processes require physical hardware of any kind, you need to know if your partner is willing to host it.

8. Automating the cloud

Your on-premise systems use automation to streamline processes and reduce manual workload – are there similar options available in the cloud too? What are your options for automation and reporting? Is there an API available allowing you to connect third-party tools – or to develop your own?

9.  Disaster recovery provisions

Cloud platforms are resilient by design – but the risk of data loss remains. How is your data protected at the virtual and infrastructure levels? Can you configure and control backup frequencies? And importantly, how is data recovered when required? Does the provider offer disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) and what are their SLAs?

10. Cloud failover mechanisms

Cloud outages are rare, but the risk of ransomware infection, accidental deletion and data corruption are almost as common as in your on-premise data centre. User error is still a threat wherever your systems are hosted. Your ideal provider needs to provide a way to recover data and operations within minutes – including cloud-to-cloud fail-over if there is a significant ransomware/data corruption event.

11. Compliance and security

Your business has a legal duty to protect data from loss or theft – and to ensure it is stored securely in an approved territory (normally the UK and EU). As you assess the various options available you need to know how responsibility is divided between parties, the tools and services (if any) that are available to maintain compliance and the physical location of your data to ensure it is not being stored illegally.

12. Technical support provisions

The provider’s technical support offering takes on additional importance when you have outsourced key elements of your IT estate. You need to be sure about the level of service you will receive, including how issues are reported, investigated and resolved. You must also ascertain what the service level parameters are to ensure you have the level of coverage appropriate to your workloads.

13. How to track costs

The pay-as-you-use cloud computing model ensures that you never invest in over-capacity for your on-premise data centre. But it also makes budget over-spend far easier, particularly given the complexities of some cloud billing models. Your ideal provider will have transparent pricing, cost models and tools that allow you to track your spend and balance resource requirements with budget constraints.

Every factor is important

13 factors might seem like a lot – but every one of them is important to consider when chosing a cloud partner. After all, this is a strategic partnership that should last years. The time and effort invested in conducting this due diligence will help to smooth your cloud adoption projects – and ensure you get exactly what you need to grow your business.

To learn more about the WTL offering and how we can help you build a flexible, future-ready platform in the cloud, please get in touch.

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