Asking the right questions is crucial when buying a cloud solution. Here are the 12 most important ones.
Buying a cloud solution is different from buying a traditional IT environment. The analysis company Forrester Research points out significant differences between the cloud service providers, especially regarding infrastructure, analysis, and migration tools. Before deciding on a supplier, you should always identify your business needs. The next step should be to examine the cloud provider's offer.
1. What type of supplier do I buy from?
The two most common types of providers are pure cloud service providers (AWS, Azure, GCP) and traditional outsourcing providers that offer cloud IT. A common difference between the two is – roughly speaking – that a cloud service provider can be more flexible with a payment model based on actual use. Meanwhile, a traditional outsourcing provider often sets the cost according to a fixed capacity, which can be challenging for companies that do not always know their future needs. In addition, pure cloud service providers offer a range of functionalities that help your business scale and grow cost-effectively along with the market.
2. What services are offered? What needs do I have?
Do you need a complete development environment or just an email service? Identify your business needs and define your goal of moving to the cloud. Are you doing it to lower costs, gain access to new technology, or have better scalability globally? Use a "requirements list" as a starting point to see how the supplier can help you achieve this.
3. Is there room to grow?
Some companies are beginning to cautiously move only part of the IT environment to the cloud. Right now, your cloud needs may not be so advanced, but if you want to move more parts of the company's IT environment one day, will the supplier then be able to handle it? Capacity is rarely a problem. Instead, look at what software solutions the provider can offer.
4. What access do I get to innovation?
Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, and Google Cloud Platform continuously launch new services and components. What opportunities does a potential supplier offer for you to take advantage of innovation? And what, if anything, is required extra of you to enable that?
5. What is required of the company?
Based on what you want to achieve by moving to the cloud, make sure you get precise information about what is required of you. Do apps need to be rewritten to be moved? Can you get more advantages from the cloud by rewriting apps, for example to integrate artificial intelligence and machine learning? The right supplier can be valuable support by providing experts who can assist with inventory and planning to make the move as painless as possible.
6. What does the price model look like?
Cloud services are usually more cost-effective than using your own local servers, but you have a lot to gain from researching pricing details. If you pay for capacity: what unit of time is used? Are there opportunities for continuous cost control, so you see what you are paying for? When you pay for traffic – is traffic within the cloud between different applications also included? In a consumption-based pricing model, you want the best possible information about consumption.
Compare what you get for what you pay with different providers and for different services. It can often be better to pay a higher running fee to avoid recurring extra costs.
7. How secure is the cloud?
Public cloud providers usually have security resources and expertise that few companies can match on their own. Serious cloud providers have well-tested security systems and keep them up to date. You are responsible for your own cloud security (read: Shared Responsibility Model*), but the services and opportunities to secure the solutions are already in place. Ask for antivirus, firewalls, real-time threat analysis, data encryption, and routine checks. Also, inform the supplier about any special needs, e.g., whether a certain type of information for legal reasons cannot be processed outside the country's borders. "
8. How to maintain GDPR In the cloud?
Most cloud providers have routines for how to take care of GDPR. However, discuss how the supplier can help you achieve these requirements. Who is responsible for what, and what does their specific offer look like?
9. What happens if data is lost?
If what shouldn't happen still happens: What procedures does the provider have if your information is somehow damaged? Check the routines for backup and redundancy in the systems and examine what measures the supplier has to minimize the risks. Also, check the agreement to see if you have an option of financial compensation.
10. What support is offered?
You should have technical support 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Holidays are no exception. But it's also valuable if the response time is short or if you have direct access to qualified technical expertise. Ask your provider what support they can offer.
11. How is the scalability?
You already know that the cloud has high scalability, but that does not mean that all cloud providers can offer 500 times higher capacity in ten minutes. Is it possible that you will have that need? Check the conditions. Also, be sure to examine the pricing model from this perspective.
12. How do I reach my organization's cloud?
You should be able to access your information in the cloud at any time from anywhere in the world through a secure login from your computer, smartphone, or tablet.
*Pure cloud service providers follow a shared security responsibility model, which means your security team has some responsibility for security when moving applications, data, containers, and workloads to the cloud. The provider takes some responsibility, but not all. Defining the line between your responsibilities and that of your suppliers is crucial to reducing the risk of introducing vulnerabilities in your public, hybrid, and multi-cloud environments.