How to choose the best cloud for your business

Cloud Collage

It’s hard to ignore all the buzz around cloud computing. Offering an impressive list of potential infrastructure benefits, including cost reduction, flexibility, scalability, reliability, maintainability and more, cloud represents a significant disruptive shift in the traditional computing paradigm.

Cost, performance, security and budget all offer compelling reasons to make a jump to the cloud. But there are dozens of cloud services available, so how do you decide which cloud model is right for you?

Key points to consider: performance metrics, services types, ownership

You have to answer the “what needs doing” question by looking at your business needs in terms of current infrastructure, platform and software. What problems are you trying to solve by looking to the cloud? What are cloud vendors offering that address them at the software level? Do those solutions meet your security requirements? Do the cloud solutions actually improve your performance by offering lower cost, greater scalability or higher reliability? Here are some insights to guide your research:

Performance-based
Based on performance metrics, such as reliability, cost, security, scalability, processing power, or regulatory issues such as where the data resides, what paths it transits and what national laws govern its privacy. For example, data stored on Google or Microsoft servers might be subject to the US Patriot Act, regardless of the territory in which the server resides; data hosted by a Canadian provider might still transit foreign territory between your users and the host.

Service-based
Based on what is being hosted (e.g., Software-as-a-Service, Platform-as-a-Service, Infrastructure-as-a-Service). An example of Software-as-a-Service cloud would be consumer-oriented email or messaging services such as Microsoft Hotmail or Yahoo mail. Platform-as-a-service offerings include the option of customizing the services for a particular client, so that your developers can access their own corporate development environment within the cloud. Infrastructure-as-a-Service offerings include the basic virtualized infrastructure where the client can install their own operating systems and application software. If the platform you need is not available for rent, then you need to build it yourself within an IaaS environment.

Ownership-based
Based on who’s doing the hosting, and how (e.g., public, private, hybrid, community). For example, the infrastructure for a private cloud, wherever hosted, would exist solely for the use of one owner. This is a bit of a contradiction because one of the fundamental benefits of the cloud is the capability to scale up and down with demand without investing in the full cost of the infrastructure required to handle peak demand. If you own your cloud then you’re responsible for the infrastructure too.



2 thoughts on “How to choose the best cloud for your business

  1. One other noteworthy point that I think might be made, and one that I’ve experienced with Cloud development (especially in the area of Healthcare related IT projects) is that in the pre-Cloud era, deployment decisions made for IT projects typically did not concern or involve anyone outside of the IT department itself, whereas when Cloud enters the picture, decision making and visibility into choosing options such as public, private or hybrid Cloud deployment become much more critical, and often goes right through to the C-level.

  2. The comment is great and very valid, in that if you leave IT decisions strictly to your internal IT department (private), typically it is in their best interest to keep every aspect of IT and & IT delivery within their grasp. When you consider public cloud offerings such as SalesForce.com, you eliminate your IT department from the hardware, software and services engagements. If this happens too often, you then don’t need as much internal IT staff/cost. This is why the Executive more and more need to weight into the discussion process, to do what is in the best interest of the company and its investors.

    For Healthcare this dilemma is even more complex in the area of patient record confidentiality and compliance; especially if the records are outside (Canada) your datacenter in the USA cloud, and replicated somewhere else after that for Business Continuity. Troublesome in healthcare where here in Canada we have not been able to even standardize on one common patient healthcare record system, so that we can share insights across healthcare organizatons.

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