Fortunately for development teams, there are many options to choose from when you eventually decide you want to move to the cloud. There are so many options, in fact, that developers and project managers can get overwhelmed when deciding who to use or even what type of cloud provider to go with.
Choosing a cloud provider is not about choosing the lowest price nor necessarily choosing the best quality. Instead, choosing a cloud provider is about what suits your business’s needs. The array of providers and the different options for each is met on the other side with the uniqueness of each customer’s needs. Every company requires different cloud solutions based on many variables, requirements, and expectations.
In light of that, there is no one cloud solution that is the best for everyone. What is best for you may be worse for other companies, and vice versa. For this reason, this article will discuss some critical points that can help you choose a cloud provider.
What is a Cloud Computing Provider?
Briefly, a cloud computing provider is a third-party IT solutions company that delivers various types of on-demand computing services over the Internet, from bare metal remote servers, data storage centers, ready-to-use software, and more. Most of these solutions have many benefits, such as avoiding up-front hardware and software systems costs. Not to mention the flexibility and elasticity of the pay-as-you-go model.
There are dozens of cloud computing providers around the world; some of them were big names in the world of web hosting in previous incarnations. Others were major providers of traditional database and server solutions. The first that comes to mind, of course, is the major global brands like AWS, Microsoft Azure, IBM Cloud, Google Cloud, and Oracle. In addition to those name stays, there are also some smaller niche cloud providers.
In such a competitive environment, it is worth it to bolster your knowledge and consult experts in cloud computing to help you make the best choice. In such a busy sphere, it is easy to over or underestimate your needs and therefore end up paying more than you should or sell your business short by not having all of the features your development team requires.
There are many types of cloud computing services available on the market, including:
- Data storage and data centers for big data processing
- Web hosting and networking, globally
- Processing power for artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML)
- Standard office applications and information management systems
- Containers, environments, and configurations for software development
How to Determine Cloud Requirements
In order to easily define your business needs, you should first take a look at the types of cloud services and model types, including deployment models.
Typical cloud service deployment models include:
- Infrastructure as a service (IaaS)
- Platform as a service (PaaS)
- Software as service (SaaS)
- Other types: Storage, Database, Information, Process, Application, Integration, Security, Management, and Testing-as-a-service.
The cloud is also classified in the following models:
- Public cloud: The cheapest solution
- Private cloud: for sensitive software or data
- Hybrid cloud: a mix of public and private clouds
- Community cloud: using cloud services from more than one provider
In terms of what your business requires, the following are some common concerns you can discuss when choosing which type of cloud provider you need:
- For what purpose do you need cloud services? Is it for software, hosting, data center, storage, etc?
- What amount of security do you need and what type of access and roles will users require? Other possible problems include downtime, connection issues, and so on.
- What certifications, reputation, and user ratings do the cloud services have?
- What skills and job roles are needed for accessing and using the cloud services.
- Determine if some of the legacy resources are still useful.
- Perform feasibility studies and calculate the expected cost saving for each possible option.
- Research customer support options and how quickly they respond/communication options.
What Should I Look for in a Cloud Provider?
When looking for a cloud provider, there are some common, essential features you should look for. The following are some key areas to consider during your research when selecting a cloud provider to ensure you pick the right cloud solution. These include:
- Certifications and Standards: make sure the cloud architecture meets industry standards.
- Technologies and Service Roadmap: What is the service focus and does it meet your needs?
- Data Security and Privacy: Does the security and privacy compliance meet your organization’s needs?
- Service Dependencies and Partnerships: What third-party services and dependencies does the provider rely on?
- Contracts, Commercials, and SLAs: Check general compliance and other legal concerns, such as the contract model.
- Reliability and Performance: Check the downtime history and general capabilities, especially for artificial intelligence, big data processing, and machine learning.
- Migration Support, Vendor Lock-in, and Exit Planning: Check the support channel and availability, in addition to migration (in and out) support.
- Price: Make sure pricing, billing levels, and scalability fit your needs and are clearly defined.
- Business Health and Company Profile: What are the provider’s business history and size in the market.
- Manageability: What is the ease of management and use, in addition to automation, and the ability for integration with your services.
- Backup and Disaster Recovery Planning: What are the options for backups and disaster recovery.