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10 essential questions to ask potential cloud computing vendors

Cloud providers getting ready to make decisions on cloud infrastructure products should ask potential cloud computing vendors these 10 essential questions before buying.

Cloud providers getting ready to buy cloud platform and components should be armed with questions to ask their...

potential cloud computing vendors. As part of our series on the business and technology essentials to build out a cloud services infrastructure, we want you to be armed and ready to get the right information before making a final decision. Check out the top 10 questions you should ask.

Read the rest of this series:

Table of contents: Enabling cloud services

Cloud infrastructure determines services flexibility

How to buy cloud platforms and components

How to price cloud integration and product costs

  1. Does the provider’s products and/or services fit the service objectives clearly? Remember that many platforms can provide support for multiple cloud service types, but most will be directed primarily at one. It’s important to have your cloud platform support your business goals.
  2. Do the products being offered allow for multi-tenant separation of users? Cloud computing providers must be wary of using software and hardware designed for private clouds because it may not fully separate users. Resource allocation, application access and security, billing and accounting, and management must all support multi-tenant operations. This means that you must keep user accounts separated and make sure they are separately configured and managed.
  3. How much of the cloud and network components needed can the provider offer, either directly or through partnerships with others, in which the primary supplier retains product support and integration responsibility? Generally, the fewer providers involved in the process, the easier cloud-building is. Certainly integration and support of the ongoing infrastructure is easier with fewer vendors. Specialty component choices are sometimes required, but make sure the need is truly compelling.
  4. Does the provider supply or support a single cohesive strategy for managing the cloud’s resources, including security and availability? One of the biggest problems with cloud infrastructures assembled from multiple sources is that they may not have a harmonious management strategy, which raises availability and performance risks and can drive up support costs. Another risk is that the resource management strategy may not scale across multiple cloud data centers.
  5. What specific provisions are made for offering cloud data storage? Are the available storage interfaces suitable for the type of cloud service to be offered and the specific service objectives of the provider? The storage pricing model for cloud services is the dominant issue for evolving the cloud from the trials-and-pilots phase to full maturity, and the cloud storage platform must support that evolution to ensure profit growth.
  6. How are cloud users connected to their cloud resources? This includes mapping WAN-to-server requests and the policies that govern how server and storage resources are selected for a given cloud user. Because cloud computing is a resource economy-of-scale game, it’s critical that resource use is high, but it’s also critical that overall cloud performance meets buyer requirements. Look for a strong policy management capability with flexible policies to allocate all classes of cloud resources.
  7. Does the cloud provider offer public cloud services that deliver a startup resource pool for a new provider? It's important to find out if the cloud computing vendor offers any technical and business support for creating multi-provider cloud federations to share resources among providers so it can deal with disconnects between a buyer's service geography and a seller's cloud footprint. Only the largest providers are likely to be able to supply infrastructure globally, yet many buyers will have a global presence.
  8. Do the provider’s offerings meet compliance and security standards applicable to the targeted vertical markets or have they been certified by the industry? Where compliance standards exist, the cloud provider needs to obtain some compliance support from the suppliers of the cloud platform and cloud network components. Federation and public cloud resources must also conform.
  9. What integration responsibility will the cloud computing vendor or provider accept, and under what terms? If the vendor does not supply integration services, will it recommend an experienced integrator in the necessary service geographies?
  10. Does the vendor or service provider have a trial configuration or hosted test-bed of the cloud platform components for review and testing? Find out whether the platform/test-bed being integrated with other components can provide a full test of a proposed cloud configuration. The more vendors, providers and separate components involved in a proposed configuration, the more important it is to test the configuration before making a commitment to offer services.
This was last published in July 2012

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