Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Five questions to ask before you choose a cloud provider


The cloud landscape has never been more complex. Research reveals that the majority of EMEA IT decision makers (ITDMs) have hybrid cloud strategies (68 Percent) and even more (72 Percent) have relationships with multiple public cloud providers (72 Percent). Every provider offers different services each with their own pros and cons, and this complexity can be challenging to manage without the right underlying data architecture.

Given the cost, compliance and business risk implications of cloud, due diligence is increasingly important. But for organizations to work out what they need from their cloud service providers (CSPs), they must understand their own data first.

What stays and what moves?

Organizations need crystal clear visibility into what  data they store, manage and process on a daily basis. Does any of it need to remain on-premises due to compliance or security requirements? Which data and workloads would benefit if they were migrated to public cloud environments?

Without this knowledge, organizations can struggle to understand what they really need from a prospective CSP. But with 92 Percent of ITDMs planning to migrate more data to the cloud over the coming three years, it’s vital that they develop a deeper understanding of their data.

Organizations can’t afford to spend time and money on cloud migration projects, only to roll back again when reality bites. The telco sector is a case in point, where many communication providers announced big-money deals with CSPs in a bid to optimize networks and operations. Many of these projects soon stalled as exploding data volumes lead to potentially astronomical cloud bills. Many telcos simply didn’t realize how much data their network would report back into the public cloud.

Selecting a cloud provider

Once organizations have a thorough understanding of their data needs it’s time to start thinking about which provider to partner with. Here are five questions you should be asking prospective cloud service providers:

1)    Do they offer enough flexibility to future proof technology decisions? This is all about understanding if the CSP will enable organizations to grow. You need to know whether it has the instance types required to fit your current and future workloads; if it’ll support open source standards; and its product roadmap to ensure it’s planned for business-critical innovations, such as AI or advanced analytics. Planning for tomorrow should always be factored into choosing a CSP. 

2)    Do costs vary depending on the workloads I need to run? Cost will always be one of the most important factors in any cloud decision. But buyers need to understand that certain clouds run certain workloads more cost effectively and efficiently than others. So the conversation needs to get granular about costs for the specific workloads the organizations will need to run.  

3)    What is their data egress fee policy?  Although the likes of AWS, Microsoft and Google have announced the apparent abolishment of data egress fees, there remains some elements of vendor lock-in with every cloud; it just depends to what degree. So it makes sense to understand up front what it’s going to cost to move data out of a CSP’s environment in case circumstances change. Portability is becoming increasingly key to business agility today.

4)    How resilient and reliable is their service? If a public cloud goes down, entire businesses could grind to a halt. With organizations now relying on cloud, simply rebooting a server is no longer enough to restore services. That makes reliability and resilience two critical criteria for choosing a CSP. One provider may be more expensive than a competitor, but if it offers greater resiliency and suffers significantly less downtime, it may be a better choice when you consider cloud outages can cost organizations $100,000 an hour.

5)    How well do they integrate with other technologies? Organizations will typically use a variety of separate tools for data analytics, data warehousing, data streaming etc. They may also use different clouds for different tasks – perhaps AWS to store the majority of their data, but Azure to experiment with ChatGPT. Organizations need to ensure their chosen cloud (or clouds) integrate with all the different tools they use across their technology stack.

Preparation is half the battle

From a corporate IT perspective, the cloud increasingly sits at the center of everything. But with so much choice and complexity out there, due diligence is essential. Start by understanding exactly how the organization currently uses its data, and what its plans are going forward. Then work through the above questions to find the CSP which offers the best fit. A little extra work ensuring you go for the right CSP now will pay dividends further down the road, enabling a cost-effective, reliable and flexible cloud solution that meets your data needs.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock/phloxii

Paul Mackay is Vice President Cloud, EMEA & APAC, Cloudera.

Read more

Local News