By Daffa Zaky.
Cloud computing offers a great deal of benefits to businesses.
They allow enterprises to develop their applications, test them and put them to use faster with lower capital expenditure, less maintenance and improved manageability. However, choosing a cloud provider is not an easy task. This is primarily because there are a number of players out there in the market. Secondly, many of them focus on multiple segments of the cloud computing market. These include infrastructure as a service, software as a service and platform as a service. Therefore, some of the factors you must consider when choosing a cloud hosting service provider are as follows:
#1: User Interface
User Interface or UI is a critical element to be considered when evaluating cloud computing solutions. A good UI will be of great help in mitigating the change over time required for IT departments to migrate to a virtualized environment, especially because of scarcity of resources and the need to upgrade faster. As such, look out for a cloud provider that offers the most customer-friendly UI.
#2: Service Level Agreement
Though a service level agreement cannot be considered as a guarantee, it is always better to work with a cloud hosting service provider that offers the same. The service level agreement refers to the service provider’s commitment to respond quickly when something goes wrong and refund a small percentage of the bill to cover downtime. If the standard service level agreement is inadequate, then the provider must be prepared to customize the same so that it is acceptable to both the parties.
#3: Setting Up An Account
As with everything in life, first impression is the best impression. It is important to be right the very first time, or else opportunities can be lost. In the IaaS sector in the cloud hosting environment, the first impressions refer to the provider’s website content, dealings with their sales team and the signing up process as a whole. The provider’s offering and price plans should be simple and easily understood. Prospective customers should be able to glean the information they are looking for quickly, set up a server account and have it running.
Have a clear understanding as regards the cloud computing performance. Most cloud providers offer computing resources that vary in sizes. They range from single-core instances (the smallest) to multi-core, -memory instances (the largest). However, the storage I/O can vary from one cloud provider to another. The storage I/O is often the key factor that determines the performance of your application in the cloud environment.
When choosing a cloud provider, it is also important to consider the location of their data centers. This is because compliance regulations and security can vary from one country to another, specifically in the European region. How a cloud provider ensures security of their network, data and customer data is also a very important factor to be considered when choosing a service provider. It is, therefore, a good idea to choose a cloud provider that has been certified by the Security Trust and Assurance Registry created by the Cloud Security Alliance and British Standards Institution.
#6: Data Center Location and Network Infrastructure
A cloud hosting provider’s network infrastructure is a key aspect with respect to performance. Their network infrastructure should be capable of supporting customers’ company’s specific requirements. Data center location also has an impact on performance in various ways. These include speed, statute restrictions in using customer data, design of applications, applicability of jurisdictional laws if a dispute arises and susceptibility to environmental factors like hurricanes, earthquakes, etc.
#7: Tech Support and Customer Service
It is very important to ascertain as to whether the prospective cloud provider offers free technical support or different tiers of paid support, either on subscription or pay-as-you-go. It makes sense, therefore, to call the support department of the cloud providers under consideration and find out what levels of support they provide and whether it will suit your needs.
8. Pricing and Billing
The primary factor that motivates a business to move to cloud is the cost savings that it offers. As a result, most cloud companies offer utility-based pricing plans wherein payments are made only for the resources that are consumed by the customer. There are four main resources that cloud customers should be aware of. These are the CPU, RAM, data storage and bandwidth. Further, it is not a good idea to choose a cloud hosting service provider on the basis of lowest price offered. Customers should take into consideration their specific resource requirements and then choose an appropriate plan.
#9: Total Cost
Cloud hosting providers often hide the total cost of using their service by making customers focus on their advertised price. It is important to have a clear understanding as to what additional fee they could impose on customers. Some of them are:
Subscription charges: A monthly fee paid for using a specific level of resources.
Software licensing fees: Charges for using the operating system and database software images are not often discussed in the beginning.
Burst resource pricing: Increase in cost for using resources above the subscription level.
#10: Financial Security
Another important aspect to be taken into account when choosing a cloud hosting service provider is the company’s long-term viability. In this regard, it essential to find out answers to the following questions:
How long has the cloud provider been in operation?
Are they financially sound? Are they sufficiently funded?
Is there a possibility of a merger or an acquisition?
Does the potential cloud provider’s technologies and processes in line with the recommendations of leading organizations in the IT industry?
Finally, the reputation of a cloud hosting service provider needs to be evaluated prior to signing up with them. Ask prospective cloud providers for references in order to verify their service reliability and quality, customer support quality and network performance. Do carry out a review their website and ask them to furnish case studies and media and analyst coverage examples. Spending some time and effort in properly evaluating the performance of a cloud hosting service provider goes a long way in eliminating issues later on in the association.