6 Tips For Picking The Right Cloud Provider To Partner With

by drjim on July 23, 2014

If only picking the right cloud vendor was this easy…

If only picking the right cloud vendor was this easy…
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Face it, we are all going to move our company’s IT applications into the cloud eventually. The importance of information technology demands that we do this. Just exactly where that cloud is going to be located and who will be running it for us is another question. What questions does a CIO need to ask when you are trying to select the right cloud vendor for your company?

5 Questions To Ask A Cloud Vendor

You wouldn’t buy a car without doing your homework and asking the car dealer a bunch of questions, right? The same thinking should go into how you go about selecting a cloud provider for your company’s valuable IT applications. The trick is to know what questions you need to be asking. Here are 6 of the most critical questions that you are going to need to get answers to:

  1. Experience: You really don’t want your company’s applications to be the first ones that go into this vendor’s cloud. You would prefer that they have done this many time before. Any company can look good in their marketing brochures, but the real proof will be when they can show you a list of their current customers. Look for proof of awards and anecdotes from known industry sources. Ask around: do you know anyone else who has gone with this vendor and what has their experience been like?
  2. Try Before You Buy: Signing up with any cloud provider is a big risk for anyone who has the CIO job. If you’ve made a mistake, you’ll know right off the bat. Make sure that you always have an “out”. Make sure that you can pilot your solution with them before you get locked into a long-term contract.
  3. Price Protection: If there is one thing that we all hate, it’s buying something and then discovering that we could have gotten it cheaper if we had only waited a bit. When you are negotiating the terms of your contact with your cloud provider partner, make sure that you build price protection into your contract. If they drop their prices while your contract in in effect, you should be able to take advantage of their best prices and not be locked in to the prices that were in effect when you signed the contract.
  4. It’s All About The SLA: Serviced Level Agreements (SLAs) are how you’ll measure the level of service that your cloud provider is delivering to you. You’ll want to create a custom SLA that meets your company’s specific needs; however, at a bare minimum it’s going to have to deal with issues such as availability, transaction time, storage, and performance. Make sure that you spell out what the cloud provider is going to have to do if they can’t keep up their end of the SLA.
  5. Transparency: Once you move your applications into the cloud, you will undoubtedly run into some problems. The big question is going to be where are those problems coming from: your applications or the cloud that they are running in? If you can’t peer “into” the cloud, you’ll have a tough time answering this question. You need to insist on having some level of transparency into the cloud so that you can check on things like monitoring and operational management, performance management, and change management,
  6. Bad Things Happen, Are They Ready?: In this world that we live in, bad things do happen: freak storms, power outages, etc. Your cloud provider will experience these types of things – will they be ready for them? You should insist on seeing their disaster recovery plan. Review it with them and see if you get a sense that they are really ready or is it just a sheet of paper that they hope to never have to use?

What Does All Of This Mean For You?

The arrival of the cloud is poised to change how the person in the CIO job runs their IT department. Eventually, some or all of the company’s applications will be moved to the cloud. In order to ensure that they continue to operate reliably, CIOs need to know what questions they need to ask cloud vendors before making a selection.

Asking the right questions will ensure that you get the right cloud provider for your company. Make sure that they’ve done this before, that they offer a trial period, and that there is price protection built into the contract that they offer. SLAs are critical as well as your ability to peer into their operations. Finally, planning for the worst is a necessity so make sure that there is a disaster recovery plan in place.

Some of these questions may seem rather basic, but they are all critical. When it comes to something new and shiny like “the cloud” it can be all too easy to forget to ask the really important questions. Take the time to ask the right questions and you’ll be sure to end up with the right cloud partner for you.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: Do you think how long a cloud vendor has been in business should be a factor in who you choose?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

As the person with the CIO job you are faced with a double challenge: despite the importance of information technology you have a limited budget and you have limited resources. This means that in order to get everything done that the rest of the company is expecting you to do, you are going to have to get creative. One way to do this is to get some outside help in the form of partnering with other businesses. The secret lies in knowing how to do this.

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