Cloud computing is becoming the primary choice for companies looking for an outsourced hosting environment. Compared to the traditional hosting options of shared hosting, dedicated servers and colocation – cloud computing offers cost-savings, scalability and ease of access. In performing due diligence when selecting an outsourced cloud solution, companies should perform a cloud provider comparison. In the article, we will compare the pros and cons of local versus national cloud providers.
National providers like Amazon and RackSpace offer some very attractive options for new clients looking to migrate to the “cloud.”
1) Flexible pricing – Both Amazon and RackSpace offer a “pay only for what you use” model and there is no minimum fee. Pricing starts at $50 a month.
2) Redundant Data Centers – national cloud companies tend to offer data centers all over the US, Europe and Asia for clients looking for the ultimate in redundancy.
3) Marketing benefits – Like the old adage once said, “no one ever got fired for buying IBM”, there are major strategic and marketing benefits to choosing a well known national cloud provider versus a a regional/local cloud hoster.
1) Support – National cloud providers like Amazon do not really offer much support for non technical clients. Just trying to configure a server on the Amazon website is a real tough task unless you really know what you are doing. Amazon does not offer an 800 support line for questions just an email, web form or link to their support forums. This is pretty frustrating for clients looking to speak with someone on the phone.
2) Service issues – Both RackSpace and Amazon have suffered from major cloud outages over the last few years. Recently, the Amazon cloud service was down for 4+ hours which had a major business impact on companies like Netflix, Reddit and Foursquare.
Local Cloud Providers are abundant all over the domestic US and should be a part of your evaluation process when picking a cloud vendor.
1) Location – If you pick a local cloud provider, they most likely have a data center you can visit and tour. Go check out the facility to see if you like the data center infrastructure – rack space, power, cooling, etc. Better yet, many local data centers will allow you to “showcase” their data center to potential clients and investors. Most national providers will not allow tours and will only offer a technical spec sheet of capabilities.
2) Flexibility – Many local cloud providers offer various cloud service options. Some offer “Hybrid Cloud” solutions which allows customers to colocate their own server(s) along with their cloud hosted infrastructure. Some offer both public and private cloud solutions depending upon your requirements.
3) Support – Local cloud providers offer “hands on support.” You can easily pick up the phone and talk to a tech person if you have a question. Many cloud clients are more comfortable working with a company that is right “down the road” versus a national provider hundreds or even thousands miles away.
1) Single data center – Some local providers only have one data center in their arsenal. This could be a problem if you are looking for a truly redundant cloud infrastructure. However, many local cloud providers have addressed this issue by acquiring other local data centers within their geographic footprint or by partnering with other data center operators who can mirror your hosted cloud environment. A great example of this type of regional player is Xand in the Northeast. They are regional data center provider that has data centers in MA, PA and NY.
2) Less Marketing “Buzz” – Most local cloud providers don’t have the brand recognition like a RackSpace or Amazon. Check with your sales and marketing team to see if this is critical before making any decisions.
Clients looking for a cloud host will have to do their “due diligence” when comparing local and national providers. Make sure that all relevant departments within your company are on the same page when you define your goals and objectives.
If your firm is in the market for a cloud provider, check out our whitepaper below on the top 10 tips to picking the best cloud provider.