A wide range of cloud-based applications, services and solutions are on offer through service delivery models promising a lot of benefits for companies. For example, more than 50% of the US government is on the cloud and spends nearly $2 billion per year on cloud services.
At the base of IT’s challenges is a cycle where most of the budgets are consumed for maintenance of existing systems, thus leaving little for reinvestment and business growth. So more and more IT organizations are using cloud to unlock resources to encourage innovation.
However, while thinking of migrating critical and customer-facing applications to the cloud, organizations should carefully investigate delivery models and vendors before deciding to hire any.
1. Security: This is probably the most significant concern while considering a cloud partner. Since security requirements are different for different industries, complete understanding of the vendors’ security solutions is essential. You should examine vendors’ delivery models and architecture to judge their ability to provide end-to-end security. For instance, vendors providing private network solutions and dedicated private cloud are likely to prove more secure than those having shared infrastructure or a multi-tenant model.
2. Reliability: Reliability is an important criteria required to migrate critical applications to the cloud. The quality of the service along with service availability of core applications has to be ensured. You should have service-level agreements in place for appropriate data replication processes, along with core redundancy, geographically, for application failure. Speed-sensitive applications such as IP voice and CTI should have quality of service assured through the agreements.
3. Control: A degree of control is sacrificed when moving to cloud-based services. The degree of visibility and control of the solution platform is critical, along with the management of support services. You should be able to comprehend the vendor’s platform upgrade policies and maintenance windows and their impact on back-end integrations and service delivery. You should also be able to access the data required to make and manage good business decisions and maintain effectiveness of customer care initiatives and strategies.
4. New Technology Application: To increase their responsiveness, businesses try to complement the data centers they have internally with the cost-effectiveness and agility of a public cloud, which benefits from existing investments.
So, investigate the vendors’ experience in the application of new solutions and technologies, before deciding to hire any of them. The vendor should have an understanding of your customer care strategy and business needs and have the vision to introduce whatever new technologies are appropriate.
5. Relationship Fit: In spite of cloud providers trying to differentiate on the bases of distinct offerings based on cloud platform types, the cloud is often considered as uniform and single service. While commonalities are there, it is misleading to treat all offerings as similar. Therefore, you should carefully review the services provided by potential cloud partners and choose the one that will be the perfect fit.
The cloud partner should be able to provide expert insight into all needed to be done for the best results and have an in-depth understanding of your operations. It should be a full partnership rather than simply a relationship between a business and a vendor.
6. Business Fit: Before you move to cloud, you should know why having a cloud strategy is essential for your business. For a number of enterprises, especially those which have multiple locations, cloud offers a wide range of benefits including secure yet flexible access, scalability, a good alternative to in-house storage, enterprise-level support and predictable costs.
Once you have decided that cloud is a good fit for your organization, you can evaluate the various options available. Not only should the cloud options be cost-effective, you should think whether the kind of contracts available will work well in your organizational culture and business model. These should offer flexibility for you to change your focus in the years to come.
7. Responsiveness: From the first contact onwards, you can start gauging a potential partner’s responsiveness. It is better to know how responsive a cloud provider is before you partner with them rather than when already conducting business with them. For the purpose, you could examine testimonials, case studies, blogs, message boards and online reviews about your potential partner. These should help you to get a fair idea of what people are saying online about the service provider and, so, help you make the best possible decision regarding whether or not to partner with them.
8. Operations: A vendor that provides you with a single point of contact who responds in a timely manner is far better than one with a rigid hierarchy where you would have to go through several levels of the cloud provider’s organization before you can find someone who can actually help you. Along with responsiveness, this is an important criterion to evaluate a potential partner before actually engaging in doing business with them and should be considered carefully.
9. Data Center Location and Safety: Along with man-made calamities, you should find out what your potential cloud service partner will do to protect your data against natural disasters such as flood and fire. A good vendor will always keep you updated about data center locations and any changes therein so that you have greater assurance about the safety and security of your data. The best, obviously, would be locations where the probability of natural disasters is relatively low, although no place can be completely secure in that respect.
10. Pricing: Reputed cloud service providers do not make large upfront costs a part of the equation. They allow you to pay only for what you need and pay-as-you-go, along with letting you expand or add services along with the passage of time and as the need arises for them.
11. Support: You should have technical support from your cloud service provider available 24×7 and that too from highly trained engineers, as against customer service representatives who provide only scripted responses.
12. Lost Data Recovery: Select a service provider that has systems and mechanisms in place to recover lost data in case you accidentally delete something. Reputable providers generally compensate clients in case of data loss due to any unfortunate occurrences.
13. Usability: The provider should help you to set up your account via customer service representatives after you have signed up for the service. So, choose a vendor that will guide you during the initial set up process. Any good vendor should provide this as a part of its bouquet of services on offer.
Although it might appear that there is a lot to consider beforehand, moving business to the cloud is certainly beneficial, as it provides more storage and helps you save money on hiring more staff members. Meticulous planning and attention to detail from the very beginning should go a long way towards achieving your objectives and benefitting from the cloud in the longer term through a fruitful relationship with your cloud partner.
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