What are the key decision points for selecting your cloud computing platform?

Author:
Doug Theis

What are the key decision points for selecting your cloud computing platform?

It’s a trick question.

Few organizations can adopt a single cloud platform to solve all their computing needs.  Even small organizations who run pure software-as-a-service (SaaS) environments find themselves using multiple cloud platforms to deliver the applications they need to support their products and services to generate revenue.

Most of the organizations we meet with select cloud computing platforms on a per application basis.  Why?  Because it gives the organization the ability to choose best of breed applications for their specific business requirements.

What key factors are these organizations considering during the cloud platform selection process?

  1. Application fit – Was the application written to be cloud-native? Does it need a microservices or serverless architecture?  Or, was it built to run on Windows or Linux with as much hardware performance as you can throw at it?
  2. Internal IT skill sets – What hypervisors and operating systems is your internal IT team supporting? What is the cost of retraining them on new hypervisors, cloud platforms, and management tools? These questions are valid whether your IT support is internal staff or external resources.  How much time, effort and risk will you take on if you choose to switch hypervisor and/or operating system platforms for your applications?
  3. Performance – Have you tested your application(s) on the platforms you’re considering?  Does the software vendor support the cloud platform under consideration?  Is the performance of the application on the cloud platform better, worse or different from the users’ expectations?
  4. Tooling – Does the cloud platform have the tool sets necessary to allow IT staff to develop or support applications that meet business requirements? Will you need to purchase and maintain additional software tools?
  5. Cost model – Does the application require IT infrastructure to be spun up and spun down? How does the network traffic of the application affect the monthly costs?  Does the finance group expect a level spending pattern for the cloud infrastructure or is cost variability acceptable?  Is cost variability predictable?  How easy is it to interpret the monthly cloud billing and whether you are wasting resources or being efficient?
  6. Security and compliance – Does your industry require you to adhere to federal, state or local compliance requirements? Do your vendors or customers require you to adhere to their compliance requirements?  Does the cloud platform provider you are considering help you meet your specific requirements?
  7. Cloud provider characteristics – What is the track record of the cloud provider under consideration? How long have they been providing services?  What is the cloud provider’s financial position?  Does the provider play well with the other cloud providers to support your multi-cloud environment?  How are their delivery and support organizations staffed?  Are they able to retain employees or do they have a high turnover rate?

Once the sum total of ideal cloud platforms has been established, many organizations will then try to minimize the number of total cloud platforms across the entire application portfolio.  While this approach sometimes results in less-than-ideal fit for some applications, the approach can often reduce overall IT environment complexity.

The evaluation process can be daunting, especially if the application portfolio is large.  Ultimate Home Services is a great example of an organization choosing the right cloud platforms for the job.  Read the case study here.

Doug Theis is the Director of Market Strategy in Expedient’s Indianapolis market focused on engaging with and improving the regional IT community through planning, sponsoring and attending community events, facilitating IT-focused continuing education opportunities, and sharing strategies, tactics and research to help IT professionals stay abreast of best practices and industry trends. Connect with Doug at doug.theis@expedient.com, and follow him on Twitter.

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