Yoav Mor is a Cloud Solution Evangelist for Cloudyn.
Enterprises are the new focus of public cloud providers, and conversely, the flexibility and scalability of the public cloud has sparked a genuine interest in enterprises across the globe. The initial challenge that enterprises face once they decide to make the move to the cloud is choosing an infrastructure as a service (IaaS) provider that's right for them.
If you're a veteran CIO, you may have been used to having face-to-face interactions with a managed service provider or colocation provider when your organization was in need of new infrastructure capacity. But the cloud has changed the way business is done. With the cloud's enterprise appeal, suddenly you are faced with the option to purchase infrastructure services with the click of a button, online, and it's up to you to make the right decision.
The question is, how do you qualify IaaS solutions? How can you increase your speed of innovation without harming your current environment? How can migrating to the cloud help you reach your business objectives? Below are 5 key criteria for CIOs to consider when choosing an IaaS provider:
Understand Your Cloud Provider's Service Level Agreement (SLA)
In the public cloud, SLAs cover a range of elements that affect your service, such as performance, high availability, and security. Now that more and more enterprises are migrating to the cloud, cloud providers are becoming pressured to create and abide by enterprise-class SLA guidelines that actually suit their enterprise customers' needs. It's your job to make sure the SLA looks realistic and contrary to what you might think, it is open for negotiation.
Find the Balance Between Performance and Cost
While lower, more flexible costs are well known characteristics of the cloud, in order to really maximize on costs, your cloud environment needs to run in the most efficient way possible. You should constantly strive to find new ways to reduce costs, so long as you continue to meet your workloads’ needs (e.g., performance, security, and availability). Additionally, you should be able to provision resources based on business objectives, such as differentiated performance between dev/test and production environments.
Migrating From an On-Premises Environment to the Cloud Doesn't Happen Overnight
You need to learn about how your on-premises environment will work in the cloud before any workloads can be transferred over, and ultimately prepare your on-premises environment in such a way that it will be able to extend or migrate to the public cloud. The public cloud welcomes such migration setups, bringing you one step closer to making the usage and costs in each environment completely transparent. As CIO, it's your duty to ensure that the migration is successful and that you utilize the right cloud management tools so there is complete transparency into what is going on both on-premises and in the cloud.
Once you migrate to the cloud, you have to decide how locked-in you want to be. The public cloud provides a lot of freedom of choice: You can leave whenever you want by simply releasing your VMs. Conversely, with on-premises environments, due to the fact that you generally go through lengthy processes to purchase or lease expensive hardware with long term commitments, the hardware is less easy to get rid of if it's no longer needed. However, when you start using "up the stack" public cloud capabilities like AWS Beanstalk or Database as-a-Service, or make upfront financial commitments such as with AWS Reserved Instances or Enterprise Agreements in Azure, vendor lock-in gets a bit trickier. A certain level of experience is required in order to compare between different vendors’ similar offerings and to understand just how locked-in you could be. In order to avoid lock-in, you need to first know your own objectives, as well as the operational features of the application that you want to move to the cloud (or vice versa). Then, analyze the types of services that you would use to run your application in order to understand the level of lock-in you would experience once you migrate.
Do Your Homework
When you choose a new vendor, it's important to verify that they have real use cases, and that of those use cases, at least one is applicable to what your organization needs. In the on-premises world, this is known as talking to references; but in the cloud, you first have to understand what your specific use case is so that when you look in a potential vendor's case study repository, you can look for one that suits your needs. Be sure to drill into the technical details of your specific needs (e.g., compliance, regulations, security, etc.) in order to really understand how certain vendors have handled other customers with similar situations. This is very important with the current state of the market, because certain capabilities may be limited in the cloud that you are used to having on-premises.
Final Thoughts: Transparency Is Key
The initial stages of public cloud migration are low risk. Think of them as a test drive for cloud vendors. However, in order to understand if a certain vendor is right for you, you should also know if you have the right tools to manage and control the vendor’s infrastructure and services. You can do this by trying to calculate your cloud costs, or what they will be, and by making sure your vendor’s offerings serve your objectives. These practices will ensure that the cloud remains to be a great advantage for your organization.
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