Moving to the Cloud: Too Many Choices?

 

Green_GaugeThis post is the ninth, and final, post in a series addressing concerns organizations may have that prevent them from moving the cloud-based solutions.

Good News; Bad News.

The Good News:  Organizations can choose from a rapidly growing myriad of cloud computing services and solutions.

The Bad News:  Organizations can choose from a rapidly growing myriad of cloud computing services and solutions.

When looking to move into the cloud, organizations have an abundant set of choices and options that offer similar functions and services.  Even more challenging, many cloud solutions offer features that overlap, creating redundancy at the intersection (i.e., the Google Drive component of Google Apps versus Dropbox).

For many organizations, the marketplace is confusing and full of claims that may be hard to verify.  Too often, the decision falls to price, not business value, and organizations end up getting what they pay for.

Start at the Beginning

Organizations looking to move into the cloud should start at the beginning step of any successful IT project — business requirements.  What are the business reasons for moving into the cloud?  These could be a simple as “keep the same functionality as in-house systems, but at a lower cost” or as sophisticated as “expand into international markets”.

The business requirements drive the technical requirements.  The technical requirements guide the selection of the solution.  Evaluate how well the solution meets your technical requirements and how well it supports your business requirements first.  Include relevant issues of customization, management, and support.   Then, look at the cost.

Vet the Vendor

While the concept of cloud computing dates back to mainframe time-sharing services in the 1970s and 1980s, today’s marketplace is new.  Every cloud vendor is new to the market as their services are relatively (no more than 5 years old) new.   Do not assume “name brand” companies are best.  Microsoft, for example, is a well-established mature business.  And yet, they have proven they are very capable of failing when it comes to providing a reliable cloud computing service.

Look at prospective vendors for their track record (as limited as it may be) with respect to performance, availability, reliability, support, innovation, and customer service.  Talk with customers and see out organizations that have dropped the service.

Understand where the vendor is financially.  Are they profitable?  Are they running on venture funds, and will they be sustainable before the funds run out?  Is the vendor’s financial position improving as their sales grow?

Use a Trusted Partner

Find a partner that knows cloud computing and can help you find your way through the myriad of options.  Work with cloud solution providers that do not push you only to what they currently sell.  Better CSPs will direct you to other resources and will either contract with them on your behalf or hand off the relationship.

If your current IT firm or your internal IT team cannot navigate the cloud computing territory, look for a partner that will work with, and will help educate, your current IT staff and/or team.  As with your cloud solutions selection, choosing a cloud solutions provider is about business value.

A good CSP can help you find, vet, select, and implement the right solution.

 

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