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Step to Choose The Right Cloud Computing Service Provider for Your Business

Cloud Computing Service Provider

Right Cloud Computing Service Provider for Your Business

The Cloud, like every other computing platform, has to be managed. Once you’ve decided to move to a cloud, the next most important decision is to choose the right cloud computing service provider. Investigating the reliability and viability of a cloud provider is one of the most complex areas faced when managing the cloud.

As businesses begin to move their data and application functions into the cloud, choosing the right cloud provider is the biggest decision to make. The question isn’t about what the cloud can do for you, but how can you trust the provider in getting the job done. Not just any provider will suffice.

“Some basic questions should be included in your evaluation for the right cloud provider.”

What we using the cloud for?

Most companies will begin using the cloud for storage as an easily accessible and simple service to access.  However, many providers do not extend their services beyond basic storage so dedicated enterprise IT vendors required to meet other needs. Determining your cloud needs for the long-term future and direct your search for a vendor capable of meeting all needs, or consider employing services from multiple providers to meet different needs.

What are my company’s workload requirements?

Some business operations are static in nature; they have limited IT requirements that are relatively stable over the course of a workday or workweek. Other operations may fluctuate drastically over time – even between months. Subsequently, the demand for cloud resources may also vary with time and function. Some organizations undertake data-centric operations that must be regulated and therefore face strong requirements pertaining to security, privacy and auditability. Some operations interact with multiple internal and external sources, thereby increasing the amount of data traffic. Potential cloud providers will need the right levels of performance, security and reliability to support workload-specific IT needs.

What services does the cloud provider provide?

Respectable service providers will have a portfolio of services, a comprehensive description of each service they offer, the key performance indicators and evaluation of current performance against those indicators. A cloud provider may have a single service to meet multiple workload types or have multiple services to meet particular needs. Generally speaking, different services are offered at different prices and can be beneficial for the discriminating business types. Below are some concepts to explore in a provider’s portfolio:

Interoperability This characteristic defines the capability of working across multiple environments, such as running an application on a public cloud while its data is stored on a private cloud. How interoperability will be defined across multiple cloud providers will differ significantly. Determine exactly how each potential provider sees their capability.

Proprietary Often not discovered until it’s too late, each cloud provider may run its service in a unique environment which makes it difficult to transfer functionality to another cloud provider either technically or legally. So should you find a reason to end the relationship with a particular cloud provider, you may lose all your functionality, or worse, data.

Flexibility How well does the cloud service meet the different, changing requirements for the different workloads it is expected to support? How much will special configurations cost?

Service Level Agreements Read the fine print and ask multiple questions about the provider’s service levels and the rights of the customer during certain service conditions, such as outages, disasters, and data theft.

Security What steps are being taken to secure and protect data assets? How fast can the service provider react to a different types of security problems and what will they do in reacting?

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Can we trust this cloud provider?

Trust often goes beyond competence of a cloud provider. Find out if you build a long-term relationship with your potential cloud vendor. Though cloud computing is relatively new, the problems it solves are old. What is the provider’s experience in managing data centers, providing secure hosting, and delivering on application requirements? Is the cloud provider simply looking to enter into a lucrative market or are they committed to a clear vision and investing appropriately to be the best provider possible? Do they have the time and technical expertise to support your business through a well-maintained customer service program?

Many businesses have been testing the waters of cloud computing with easily accessible services before making a fully established commitment. Experimenting can be beneficial. Asking the right questions upfront will ensure a successful adoption of cloud computing.

How secure is your cloud?

Security should be a major consideration when it comes to storing your company’s critical data in the cloud. Cloud providers should have several standard security measures in place and constantly update them, Foreman says. “You’ve got to be sure that you’re completely comfortable with your cloud provider’s approach to security.”

Security measures to look for include firewalls, anti-virus detection, multifactor user authentication and data encryption, and routine security audits. It’s also important to ask who at the cloud company will have access to your data in the cloud and whether the cloud provider does employee background checks to weed out potential cybercriminals or identity thieves.

Cloud Technical Interface

To take advantage of the benefits of cloud computing the proper technical interface must be in place. Companies that have already moved to a service-oriented architecture (SOA) will be find this transition easier.

  • APIs and data transformations

    A cloud’s Application Programming Interface (API) is the software interface that lets your company’s infrastructure or applications plug in to the cloud. This is perhaps the most important place for standardization. For an organization to easily build connections between its internal data center and the cloud, it must use standardized APIs and data transformation capabilities.

  • Data and application architecture

    New internally created services that support the business’s changing demands must operate with cloud ecosystems. These services may need to migrate to and from the cloud. This means that it will have to build an architecture that’s modular enough to allow services to move between various cloud platforms.

    To be effective, data also has to be packaged and managed. The IT organization needs to manage data independently of the underlying packaged application, transactional system, or data environment such as a warehouse. Your organization needs to start with consistent definitions of data elements to manage cloud-based information services.

  • Security in the cloud

    Companies planning to use cloud services must be assured of tight, well-defined security services. Many levels of security are required within a cloud environment:

    • Identity management: For example, so that any application service or even hardware component can be authorized on a personal or group role basis.

    • Access control: There also needs to be the right level of access control within the cloud environment to protect the security of resources.

    • Authorization and authentication: There must be an authentication mechanism so the right people can change applications and data.

Where is your data center and how safe is it?

The location and security of the data centers and servers where your company’s information will be stored are as important as online security, Foreman says. “You want to make sure you’re not doing business with a guy with a couple of servers in a spare room somewhere that could quite easily be accessed and compromised.”

To make sure that isn’t the case, Foreman suggests asking how a potential cloud vendor protects its data center from natural disasters, including fires, floods, earthquakes and storms. Also, find out how the facilities are protected from thieves who could walk away with your sensitive data.

What happens if you lose my data?

On the off chance your cloud provider accidentally deletes or loses your precious data, you need to know how it will rectify the problem. Be sure to ask: What provisions are in the company’s Service Level Agreement (SLA) that address potential data losses? Will the provider compensate you for losses? What data redundancies does it have in place to mitigate the risks of data loss? It’s also important to ask if the company has experienced any significant issues resulting from the loss of customer data.


 

A comprehensive security infrastructure must be provided at all levels and types of cloud services. Developers also need tools that allow them to secure the services they design to be delivered in the cloud. Organizations need consistent security across their own data center environments that intersect with a cloud service.


Understanding the Different Types of Clouds

In “technology years,” the cloud has been around for a long time. Flash back to the late 1990s when Marc Benioff launched Salesforce with a mission to “end software” by selling his customer relationship management (CRM) solution over the Internet. His Software as a Service (SaaS) model revolutionized the industry, and nearly 20 years later his message of cost savings and greater agility continues to have wide resonance. That’s also the root of some of the confusion though, because the market is now saturated with different types of cloud services. But today we are still using one word to describe the initial concept from two decades ago.

Let’s start with the fact that there are business applications in the cloud typically referred to as SaaS. You can also purchase the infrastructure that supports those applications in the cloud, which is typically referred to as IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service). Two examples of IaaS are Microsoft’s Windows Azure (soon to be rebranded Microsoft Azure) and Amazon Web Services (AWS). Both SaaS and IaaS can be delivered in a public, private, or hybrid cloud. So how do you know which cloud is best for you?

The Public Cloud: Low Cost

In a public cloud, you share the business application software, hardware, data center, and operating system with all of the other users. As a result, it is a very low-cost option. You take advantage of the provider’s infrastructure and best-of-breed processes, which lowers your capital spend and alleviates the pressure on your IT department. Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Salesforce, and others have used the public cloud concept to give smaller companies a competitive advantage with direct, affordable access to leading software and services that might otherwise be unobtainable.

The Private Cloud: Greater Performance, Security, and Flexibility

The public cloud model has many business benefits, but one downside is potential security and performance risks. In a private cloud, the only shared component is the provider’s infrastructure. A company’s business applications and database are stored on its own virtual layer, essentially creating a protective bubble around your data. The virtual layer is software that allows the application to use shared hardware and still remain protected.

When an application goes down in a public cloud, typically all customers using that cloud experience a service outage too. In a private cloud, if one customer’s application goes down it doesn’t affect other users. In addition, in a private cloud, each customer can have its own unique security model, allowing stricter access to more sensitive data and applications.

This is why the private cloud market is exploding. Although private clouds cost more, increasing numbers of businesses are selecting them to host and manage their critical workloads and sensitive information such as financials, regulated data, and intellectual property that would wreak havoc if breached. Organizations also like the ability to customize and integrate software, making the private cloud model attractive to companies that need flexibility.

The Hybrid Model: The Best of Both Worlds

There is a lot of debate over public versus private cloud providers, and for every advantage the one offers, there is a counterpoint. My experience is that the application itself ultimately dictates where it should reside depending on an organization’s needs, which means public and private clouds need to coexist in a hybrid model. According to Gartner’s Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2014, “enterprises should design private cloud services with a hybrid future in mind and make sure future integration/interoperability is possible.”

The takeaway? Organizations need to seek out technology vendors and partners to help them develop a hybrid model that leverages the best of both public and private clouds, as well as legacy applications traditionally deployed on their own dedicated hardware (on-premises) that don’t translate to the cloud. The decision of which application resides where should depend on a company’s existing IT resources, its individual business or industry compliance requirements, and its future plans. We are already seeing large software publishers building tools to integrate applications across multiple clouds and on-premises.

Gurjit Singh is Microsoft Certified IT Professional. He likes to write about Computer Network, WordPress, Blogging Tips, SEO, Make Money Online, Computer Tips and Creating Tech Tutorials. Thanks For Visiting YouMeGeeK.CoM
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