When organizations determine it’s time to move to the cloud, selecting the right cloud services provider is crucial. But with so many choices, it can be tough to know which is the best fit for you based on your unique goals, needs, and company size.
A cloud services provider is a third-party company that provides computing cloud services for organizations and individuals. And they aren’t one-size-fits-all, which means it’s worth doing your homework to find your match if you want to optimize your cloud migration experience and results.
To help you get there, we’re laying out the 6 characteristics you should examine to find your best fit.
6 Considerations to Determine Your Ideal Cloud Services Provider
1. Cloud Service Type
For starters, you’ll need to figure out which cloud service type you need: public, private, or hybrid. Identifying the type of cloud service you need will significantly narrow down the pool of cloud providers you have to choose from. All three options have their own pros and cons that we cover in-depth here, but here’s a quick summary:
The public cloud offers affordability, low maintenance, reliability, and scalability. However, it’s less ideal if your organization has sensitive workloads. This is because it provides limited visibility and control and you’ll share computing space with other customers, so there’s a minor chance of data leakage.
The private cloud is dedicated to a single organization, providing maximum security, scalability, compliance, flexibility, and enhanced visibility and control. It’s especially suited for organizations in industries with strict regulations that need to handle sensitive information regularly. On the downside, some private cloud providers lack a global presence and can be expensive. As a result, it’s wise to research these qualities carefully before settling on a partner.
The hybrid model combines benefits of both public and private clouds. It offers specialized security advantages, workload management flexibility, and reliability, and is often the best option for organizations serving diverse industries. However, it can be complicated to set up and can be expensive to maintain.
2. Technology Compatibility and Services Roadmap
You need a cloud provider that can support your needs and shares your vision for the future. To determine this, ask:
- Are the provider’s platform and preferred solutions compatible with your current tech stack and environment?
- Does the provider’s cloud architectures, services, and standards align with your management preferences?
- How much, if any, customization or re-coding will you need to do to make your organization’s workloads compatible with the provider’s platforms?
Additionally, ask about the provider’s service development roadmap. You need a cloud services provider that shares your vision for future innovation and growth. As a result, you need to know whether their roadmap will fit your organization’s long-term needs. They should also be able to provide you with examples of deployments they’ve successfully completed that are similar to the one you will undergo.
3. Infrastructure Design
To get high-quality, service, you need to choose a cloud services provider with well-designed infrastructure. You can assess this by examining whether the provider has:
- Multi-layer security, with a physical or perimeter layer, like controls that monitor traffic coming in and out of the provider’s facilities. It should also have an infrastructure layer, which holds the data center equipment and the backup systems that power it. Additionally, look for a data layer, which restricts data access, and an environmental layer, which prevents data centers from being built in areas where environmental disasters are likely.
- High Performance Computing, or HCP, refers to the ability to quickly process data, scale your infrastructure up, and make complex calculations. These factors have a huge impact on your services’ performance level.
- Data center setup is another critical consideration, as you need a cloud services provider that has geographically dispersed data centers.
4. The Service Level Agreement (SLA)
Another vital consideration is the service level agreement (SLA), which will let you know what to expect when it comes to quality, availability, and how responsibilities will be split between your organization and the provider. Here, you can assess your compatibility by inspecting the provider’s stance on issues like:
- What services they offer, like how they store, protect, and encrypt your data.
- Availability guarantees and their track record.
- Service credits available due to service interruptions.
- Their escalation procedures and timeframes.
- Their definition or issues, roles, and responsibilities.
- General service commitment.
5. Your Budget
The cost of partnering with one cloud provider versus another will depend on your business’ product and services needs. To determine this cost, you’ll need to consider the total cost of ownership, including the cost of resources, support, and services. Additionally, know that the cost of your migration and hosting your solution in the cloud will depend on how you plan. You can catch our four best tips for planning a cost-effective cloud migration here.
6. High Security
While the cloud is more secure than traditional IT systems, there’s no denying that not all cloud providers are created equal. To find a highly secure cloud provider, ensure that they have industry-standard security measures like multi-factor authentication and encryption.
The providers’ physical security is also critical. Look for providers with data centers featuring multi-layered security defenses like concrete walls, high fences with barbed wire, cameras, and 24/7 support and security guards. As mentioned previously, you should also look for a provider with multiple geographically dispersed data centers.
Finally, keep in mind that depending on your industry, you may have specific regulations and standards to comply with. If this applies to you, ensure that the cloud provider can support these needs and has experience doing so.
Some organizations have more in-house IT skills than others, so it’s worth exploring the level of support a provider can offer. Many providers offer comprehensive services before, during, and after the migration period, including 24/7 monitoring and support. Still, others are less hands-on, which may be adequate depending on your organization’s needs.
Regardless of your IT team’s experience or skill level, however, you may benefit from additional support. We’ve heard from our customers that a little extra assistance in the beginning can be invaluable. Moving to a new environment can be daunting for anyone, and unexpected roadblocks can arise, especially right after you go live. One of our customers, a Credit Union, spoke to this, saying:
“The migration team was fantastic. They were really helpful and very, very responsive. I really enjoyed the fact that the week we went live, they [Naviant and Hyland] had a full week 24/7 support team chatline open, so as we were working on getting things up and running, if there were any questions, we could just drop into Teams and there were people assigned to it who were listening and watching for any questions that would come up. So, we could ask a question, get an answer, and continue with our day.” -Application Developer and Database Administrator, the Client
8. Reliability and Performance
Performance is a non-negotiable when it comes to cloud services providers. Ensure that the cloud services provider offers high-performing, reliable solutions. You’ll want to look into factors like network speed, processing power, and storage options. One way to measure performance is to compare the provider’s performance against their SLAs over the past 6-12 months. Your provider should be able to provide this information if it isn’t publicly available.
Additionally, know that all providers will have some level of downtime. It’s inevitable. But what truly matters is how the provider handles these situations. They should be able to provide established, proven processes for responding to both planned and unexpected downtimes. Ask how they communicate with their customers during these disruptions, too.
Find Your Cloud Provider Match
It’s probably clear by now that there’s no straightforward answer about which cloud provider is best for you. It depends on your business goals, needs, and many other factors. However, this list contains all the considerations you need to make an educated, holistic decision so you can feel confident entering your cloud journey.
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