You’re feeling the pressure to assess cloud service providers. It can, however, be challenging to ferret out the differences between them. Also, you must ensure that whoever you work with can provide the performance that meets your requirements while remaining cost effective.
Thus, you need an objective, structured way to develop and assess the best cloud service providers for your organization. Use this step-by-step approach to help you choose the right partner.
Decide What to Test
If the cloud is new to your company, you want to minimize your risks when testing it out. After all, there’s no reason to endanger day-to-day operations and revenues. So your first step is to select an environment to test that’s not mission-critical, such as development.
Also, it’s best to start with workloads that are small and simple. Once you’ve chosen a few data resources that you can afford to risk, you need to determine how large and complex they are. You can do this by tagging and grouping the resources in your infrastructure performance management tool and viewing them as a virtual environment.
Ideally, you’ve been monitoring these resources around the clock for at least 30 days. If so, you now have the required historical data to assess utilization, capacity, and performance over the last month. This data enables you to outline a profile of your requirements.
Look at the possible environments to assess which one will be easiest to work with based on size and complexity. Sometimes these attributes go hand-in-hand, but you may find that you need to make some trade-offs. Having done so, decide which workloads you’re going to test.
Having completed your internal assessment, you have a shopping list of your requirements. Now, you want to do an in-depth review of a few vendors. Find several cloud service providers that meet your security, customer support and availability needs, and ask them for quotes.
This is where it gets nebulous (pun intended). Pricing structures differ, and you’ll probably find you’re not comparing apples to apples. Quotes presented could be, for example, $1,000, $1,500 and $2,000. Don’t be lured into the lowest price. Dig for the details and restrictions.
That means reading the fine print in the service level agreement (SLA). You may find that the company offering the lowest monthly price is providing a defined environment, but has limited your usage of it to five percent of the time. If you should exceed that, the meter will start running, and there will be additional charges. Another problem is that you might receive the storage unit you ask for, but response times are too sluggish for your needs.
Take It For a Spin
If they want to win your business, most cloud service providers will be willing to give your company a 30-day free trial. You should not move forward without trying out a company’s services, so ask for that trial.
To take advantage of it, create a copy of your test environment and run it with a few vendors. Depending on your resources, do side-by-side or sequential tests.
While testing, you need to use a vendor agnostic, cloud-based infrastructure performance management solution to monitor performance. This will give you data in black and white that shows how each vendor performed.
Just as you may be disappointed in a new car’s performance when you drive it around the block, you may also discover that a given cloud service provider does not meet your performance expectations during your trial. That doesn’t mean they can’t up their game. You may have to opt for a premium plan that ensures you receive the performance you need. Of course, that will likely mean an increase in price, but it’s good to know the true costs before you make a move.
Move to the Cloud
Having done your due diligence, you should now have a couple of good options for your cloud move. While some companies like to focus on one vendor, it’s better to divide your workloads between two of them. That’s because the performance you observe today may not be the same as it is six months from now. The cloud is fluid. As more customers come aboard and consume resources, performance may erode. Also, having two providers will give you more leverage in future price negotiations.
Choose two vendors and, once again, monitor their performance. Plus, evaluate the service they offer their customers day-to-day.
By taking this methodical approach to choosing the best cloud service provider, you will be able to optimize performance while also ensuring you receive reasonable prices and good service.