OREANDA-NEWS. August 17, 2016. Now that enterprises are increasingly embracing the cloud, cloud providers are proliferating. With so many choices, it can be difficult to know what type and which cloud provider(s) to choose.

To start, take some time to consider the different cloud architectures and services and where they make sense for your business. You may need some outside expertise to help you evaluate your specific application and IT infrastructure needs and decide what business apps and IT services are most applicable for the cloud.

Once you get a handle on the cloud architecture and service type that best fits your requirements, you’ll need some straight answers from your cloud providers to some pretty hard questions. Here are a few to start out with.

  1. Where will my data be located? You’ll need to know if your data sits in a safe place and you’ll need to understand exactly where it is kept. Regulated organizations will also need to know if their data will stay local to where it was created. You also may want to locate your data with a cloud provider that is geographically remote from your data center to help you balance risk. For example, if you are located on one of the coasts, you may gravitate towards a cloud provider who resides outside the path of coastal hurricanes.
  2. What will it cost to get my data in and out of the cloud? This can be tricky with continuously evolving pricing policies. There also can be some less obvious costs. For example, in some cases moving data into the cloud is extremely cost-effective, but trying to get your data out – either back to your premises or over to another cloud – can take a big bite out of your bottom line.
  3. Is the provider a reseller, or does it own the equipment? Cloud providers sometimes rely on other providers to deliver their services. Are they hosting their own equipment or is it hosted somewhere else? If it’s the latter, it is critical to understand who is ultimately responsible for downtime, service and support service level agreements (SLAs).
  4. What are your data center specs? Get in depth with prospective providers about their physical and electronic security measures and redundancies, and whether they have insurance in case of an outage or data loss. Amazingly, an estimated 95% of cloud providers are not insured.
  5. How much network bandwidth is required for the solution to perform? Low bandwidth and high latency can break cloud performance. Make sure you know the required bandwidth-per-user and whether your interconnections can provide that on a consistent basis worldwide when you need them to. One of the best ways to ensure this is by housing your own IT infrastructure with a colocation provider who also houses your choice of cloud services and provides direct connections to those services.
  6. Does the provider have “gravity” in your business sector? In the end, the cloud is not just about technology, it’s about growing and enriching your business. It helps you achieve your end business goals if your provider has insight into your industry and hosts an ecosystem of other companies like yours who have the potential to become your future partners and customers.
  7. How can I best prepare to integrate your cloud services into my IT infrastructure? This is the ultimate question. Ask your potential cloud provider(s) to outline any modifications you will have to make to your applications, network, data storage, or any other aspect of your IT infrastructure before you flip the switch.
  8. What can go wrong during installation or migration? A forthright answer will not only help you know what to look out for, it will help you determine the provider’s honesty, competence and previous lessons learned.

Knowing the right questions to ask will be half the battle as you take your business model and IT strategy in new, more digital directions. Learn more about the tough questions you should be asking cloud providers from our cloud experts and how to prepare for cloud migration from the Equinix Professional Services for Cloud (EPS) Two-Day Cloud Readiness Workshop.