Cloud solution providers are popping up everywhere. Type out a Google search, flip through an industry magazine or turn on the television, and you will find yourself inundated with dozens upon dozens of ads from cloud providers, all touting the internal resource saving and efficiency increasing benefits the cloud has to offer. But beware, not all these cloud solutions are created equal. The danger is in the details – and while a fully equipped cloud provider can serve as a powerful partner, choosing a cloud provider of lesser quality can open your organization to any number of risks.
In truth, when searching for a cloud computing provider, you will need key assurances in a number of separate areas. From understanding performance metrics to ensuring complete cooperation in terms of compliance auditability, it’s important to thoroughly inspect the provider and ensure that they offer the services, hardware and integrity needed to support your business:
- How do they Assure an enterprise grade cloud environment?
Just because a vendor’s marketing department calls their service a “cloud”, doesn’t mean that their technology platforms and architecture actually live up to industry best practices and standards.
Verify the stability of the cloud environment by asking:
- Are your data centers redundant and SSAE-16 audited?
- What types of software and hardware is used? (Please note that relying on anSLAcan be misleading)
- Can physical and virtual environments be intermixed?
- How Do They Assure Performance?
When asked about performance, too many cloud providers will offer up theirSLAas evidence, showcasing their 99% guaranteed uptime and low I/O Latency. Keep in mind, relying on this as your sole assurance of performance can be misleading – as most SLAs have a limited penalty, which is probably far less than the cost to your the business if the service becomes unavailable.
Too gauge the ROI of a vendor, search for a provider who offers insight into how cloud performance can be tracked in real-time:
- Can network capacity (Mbps), memory capacity (GB), storage capacity (GB), disk I/O (IOPS) and CPU utilization be measured in real time.
- How easily can these statistics be measured
- What happens when a client or number of clients in the environment need more CPU or Disk IO?
- How Do They Assure Interoperability Between Virtual And Physical Platforms?
It’s possible that not all your platforms are ready for the cloud. In fact, in many cases, having some environment housed in a physically separate location can be ideal – you just have to ensure that these environments can communicate. This means choosing a provider who offers a mix of physical colocation and private cloud computing services.
Ensure that all your applications can be intermixed by asking:
- Can I collocate systems I do not want housed in the cloud?
- Are the cloud and physical colocation facilities interconnected by reliably high bandwidth?
- Will privately deployed applications be able to quickly communicate with an application in a public or hybrid cloud?
- How do they assure compliance and security?
In the world of HIPAA, SOX, PCI and other major regulatory standards, enterprises today must work to protect their private and proprietary information from loss or security threats.
Make sure your vendor offers more than the mere promise of compliance by asking?
- Can compliance auditors conduct regularly scheduled reviews to ensure adherence to your data control policies?
- What is the procedure for remedying compliance issues?
- How do they assure support?
Even if support is always available and always accessible, it is important that the support staff can offer the skills, knowledge and expertise to match your specific platforms and applications.
Gain a clearer picture of the type of support you can expect by asking:
- How do they assure continued service even in the event of a major failure or disaster?
- Describe the technical talent that is available to support issues.
- Who can be called on with issues? What is their level of technical competency?
This guest article was written by Michael DeAloia, Regional Vice President, Expedient Data Centers. Expedient is part of a network of eight nationwide data centers that houses over 200,000 sq ft of colocation space and offers a wide range of managed services such as virtualization, cloud computing, remote backups, management of equipment, storage area networks, disaster recovery and more.