Migrating to the cloud or changing cloud hosting providers is a scary prospect for many organisations. It involves putting core business processes – data, software and infrastructure – into the hands of third-parties. There’s definitely cause for concern: of 358 organizations surveyed by INetU and THINKstrategies, 43% have had a failed or stalled cloud implementation. More than half have had their cloud projects go over-budget, while more than 70% have had to change their original plan to accommodate the transition. After all was said and done, a mere 27% of respondents were extremely satisfied with the transition.
Here’s what to consider when looking at cloud providers, either for your initial move to the cloud or whether you’re looking to change from your current service.
Cloud hosting is a competitive field. When utilising the cloud, it’s vital for users to understand which services will suit their needs best. It’s easy to spend money for features you’ll never use, but it’s equally easy to sign up for a service that doesn’t provide all of the features you need. Some cloud environments are better suited for development, others for production, whilst some may be more appropriate for enterprise workloads.
It is recommended that requirements be clearly scoped, with as much detail as possible, to make assessing providers a much easier task. During your assessment, you may find that solutions are either too generic or so complex that the required modifications would be too cost-prohibitive.
Some solutions may need to be customized, specialized or even extended with other services. The beauty about the Joviam platform is that is it completely customisable. If you can code it, you can customise it, including firewalls and private network mapping.
One of the virtues of cloud services is that they can be accessed from anywhere. However, the performance of a cloud service is based on a variety of factors such as bandwidth, latency and distance. The further away your data is stored geographically, the longer it takes to reach your computer (and those of your users’). With Joviam’s Australian servers located in the Equinix Syd3 data centre in Sydney, all our Australian users experience minimal latency.
When assessing cloud providers, it’s important to consider the location of their data centres, not only for latency reasons, but also from the perspective of data privacy laws. If your hosting provider has data centres offshore, you need to be sure that they and you are complying with Australian Privacy Principles.
To avoid this altogether, choose an Australian cloud hosting provider that keeps all users’ data in Australian data centres.
When researching cloud solutions, you should always approach a potential solution with a long-term perspective. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have an exit plan. Customers of Nirvanix, a cloud storage provider, learned this the hard way when they found out Nirvanix was suddenly closing its doors. Not only would customers lose access to their accounts, but they only had a week to download all of their data before it was permanently deleted. For some users, the time it would take to download their terabytes of data was greater than the time they had available.
Fortunately, most of Nirvanix’s users were able to pull their data before the window closed. The case has since become a textbook example in having a backup plan. Having the ability to switch to another provider can greatly reduce the chance of a sudden disaster impacting your business. In the case of cloud storage, this could be as simple as mirroring data from one service to another. This way, if one copy of your data becomes lost or unavailable, you can easily restore from another.
Should you need to quickly spin up more VMs or increase capacity on existing machines, you need a provider that can ensure this can be done quickly and seamlessly.
Downtime is important to consider in this situation – how much downtime will be required to scale up? Here you may want to consider providers that can offer ‘live cloning’ of VMs, that is, you do not need to switch a VM off in order to take a copy of it for scaling purposes. Joviam offers ‘live cloning’ and will spin up your new cloned machine in less than a minute, ensuring no downtime and rapid scaling.
When considering cost when choosing a cloud provider, be sure to consider their price:performance offering. That is, although a provider may seem inexpensive in comparison to other offerings, you need to be sure that their offering is comparative. In cloud hosting, it is very typical that you get what you pay for. So a cut price offering may be that way because the tech is below average.
Worse still, users can find that although initial spin-up costs are low, additional services and functionality may come at an additional cost that was not obvious initially. Here, you want to be sure that the cloud provider you choose is completely transparent in their pricing. To be sure, you may want to contact the provider and ask directly what they charge for certain functions.