Once you’ve decided to use cloud, the next big decision is choosing a cloud provider. There are three major providers—Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure—along with numerous other providers, including Oracle and IBM.
All of these reputable cloud providers offer a range of cloud services that can meet your business needs. How do you choose among them? Consider these factors:
Security and compliance
Because security is one of the biggest reasons companies hesitate to adopt cloud, take a close look at how the cloud providers you’re considering handle security of the cloud environment. Some security tools and services may be free while others are additional cost, so check the details, not just availability. You should also look at whether the provider is certified as meeting the compliance standards that apply to your industry.
Learn more in 6 Ways to Keep Your Cloud Secure.
Cost is of course a major reason companies choose to adopt cloud, so analyze how much you’d spend at each provider. Be sure to account for usage-based spending, along with options such as reserved instances and spot instances that can offer lower costs. You’ll need to have a good grasp of how much CPU and storage you’ll use in order to do a reliable cost evaluation.
Learn more in Calculating the ROI of Moving to the Cloud.
Even if you intend to “lift and shift” your existing workloads to the cloud, explore the range of software and application development tools offered by the provider. Your applications evolve over time, and having libraries, APIs, and services available can make development significantly easier, faster, and cheaper. Because you probably won’t completely eliminate your on-site data center, at least for a while, also review what’s needed to integrate the cloud into your existing workflow.
Cloud management capabilities
Explore the orchestration and other monitoring tools each potential cloud provider offers. The switch to the cloud is challenging, so make sure the provider’s tools will make it easy for you to keep your new infrastructure under control.
While one of the points of cloud is that location doesn’t matter, there are times that location does matter. You may need data in a specific location to meet data residency or other compliance requirements; you may need applications near end users to meet performance requirements.
Service level agreements
All the major cloud providers offer SLAs above 99%. Nevertheless, you may want to read the fine print to understand how this is measured and how you’ll be supported and compensated in case of any problem.
Getting your systems and data into the cloud can be a major undertaking, so find out how much help the cloud provider offers. They’re likely to be much less accommodating when you want to take data out of the cloud, so it’s a good idea to look at what that will entail (and cost), too. The level of day-to-day support you can access, how it’s delivered, and what it will cost should also be considered.
Learn more in The Advantages of Working With IT Pros.