"Cloud Computing" continues to be the top searched term at BSMinfo.com month after month. Yet, after talking with many IT solutions providers, I know that selecting a cloud provider is no easy task. To help you with that decision, I reached out to several industry experts to garner their advice regarding the most important considerations you'll want to heed. Here's one thing they all agreed on: There is no one cloud service provider that’s able to meet all your customers’ needs. The bottom line is that if you focus on selling solutions and services to multiple vertical markets, you’re going to need to partner with more than one cloud service provider.
You can use the following four criteria to help ensure you're selecting a cloud data center that meets your customers' requirements:
Physical Security Of The Data Center. As a starter, it’s important that your provider’s data center is SSAE 16 (an internationally recognized third party assurance audit) compliant. There are two audit types a data center can seek. A type 1 report covers a specific point in time (e.g. July 24th), and it focuses on a data center's design effectiveness of internal controls only. A type 2 report, on the other hand, covers a period of time (e.g. July 31, 2011 - June 30, 2012), and it covers the design and operating effectiveness of internal controls.
Equipment Used In The Data Center. Building a NOC (network operation center) is too cost prohibitive for many IT solutions providers, which is the reason they seek a third-party cloud service provider in the first place. Before selecting a provider, make sure to confirm it's not cutting corners on its equipment. “Everything should come from recognizable name brands like Cisco, Dell, HP, and IBM, not some generic clone,” says Jamie Brenzel, CEO of KineticD. According to Brenzel, if the cloud provider is taking shortcuts on its IT investments, it will come back to haunt you.
Facility Redundancy. Unlike the other two criteria, which are standards you’ll want to use for all cloud providers, this one falls under a different category. First, you need to cut through the marketing hype. Every facility claims to provide data backup redundancy, but some are misleading in how they do it. For example, a cloud provider might brag about having data centers located on multiple continents, promising you maximum business continuity assurance. If you read the fine print, however, you may discover it only actually hosts your customer’s data in the data center that’s physically closest to your customer. The second important point about facility redundancy is this: In some instances, your customer may need its data replicated on multiple continents, and in other cases doing this could put your customer out of compliance with an important industry regulation. “This is why if you’re going to deal in multiple verticals, you need to pay close attention to the unique requirements from each customer, and you’re going to likely need to work with multiple cloud service providers,” says Dina Moskowitz, CEO of SaaSMAX.
Security, Financial History. The final step to choosing a cloud service provider is to look at its security audit history, says Brenzel. Have they had any outages? If so, for how long? “It’s equally important to know their financial history. How likely is the company to go out of business? If they would, is there a service-level agreement in place that ensures your customer would have uninterrupted access to its data?”
For more info on this topic, check out "Warning: Enterprise Cloud Is Not A One-Size-Fits-All Solution" at BSMinfo.com.