Cloud computing infrastructure is often considered a commodity resource. And it’s true that IT managers largely aren’t opting for one cloud provider over another because of the specs of their servers or storage appliances. But that doesn’t mean that every cloud vendor will work equally well for every organization and every use case.
When choosing between cloud providers, business and IT leaders should consider the following factors.
1. Use Case
No two cloud clients are the same. Shopping for cloud resources is like going to the grocery store: You’re never going to find someone else’s grocery cart that has every item on your shopping list. The first thing an organization needs to consider when choosing a cloud provider is its intended use case. Some cloud environments work better for organizations that need to spin up resources quickly, while others are a better fit for companies that need to prioritize a simple design. It’s important to know what you’re trying to accomplish or what you define as your desired outcome before picking a provider.
2. Desired Outcome
Similarly, organizations should have a clear sense of the performance requirements and business goals for workloads that they are migrating to the cloud. By beginning with the end in mind, IT decisions-makers will be able to narrow their options much more quickly.
While cybersecurity is no longer the boogeyman scaring companies away from cloud investments (as it was just a few years ago), it is still an important consideration. Security is especially critical for organizations that work in regulated industries, which require compliance certifications. Recently, I worked with a county hospital that was leaning toward one cloud provider until leaders realized that the vendor didn’t offer Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) certification. Because the hospital works closely with the county corrections system, this was a deal breaker, and the hospital opted for another vendor that was certified in CJIS.
4. App Performance
While most apps perform similarly across different cloud providers, even some major software programs tend to do better in one environment than another. This can be attributed to various reasons, but it typically has to do with an application that was designed to run on a specific type of architecture. By working with a third-party partner, organizations can be sure to avoid common mistakes in placing workloads because the client will have an ethical comparison with facts to support a recommendation.
5. Consulting Engagements
Some cloud vendors offer more extensive consulting engagements than others — an especially important consideration for organizations that lack in-house expertise. Here again, third-party partners can help to fill knowledge gaps.
6. Cloud Credits
Through existing enterprise agreements with vendors, some organizations receive credits to try out the vendor’s cloud environment. This is fine, but I always recommend using the credits for testing a low-risk, high-reward use case. You don’t want to get so excited about free credits that you place mission-critical production workloads with a cloud provider only to discover problems later.
7. Disaster Recovery
For some workloads, organizations require near-real-time recovery. And some cloud providers are better at this than others. Organizations should look beyond service level agreements and investigate the typical process for bringing resources back in-house after a failover.
Increasingly, organizations are finding that different cloud providers are a better fit for different use cases that they want to migrate. In these instances, a multicloud environment incorporating several vendors may be the best solution.
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