Choosing a Cloud provider is not simple. Not all vendors offer the same features and often their backgrounds lend very different experiences to their current services. When deciding which provider to use its helpful to consider them as a contractor and choose the one that best compliments the overarching business strategy.
Being aware of a provider’s background and the unique experience that informs their current positioning within the Cloud market is important. It can strongly signal which are a good fit for the role they are expected to play in a business strategy. Most vendors have evolved from one of three main areas – Internet Service Providers (ISPs), Value-add Resellers or Mass Hosters all of which have a great many positive features and as always a few negatives but should be considered in the decision making process.
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Internet Service Providers (ISPs)
Many ISPs branched out into Co-Location (CoLo) as they already had large infrastructure networks. With limited changes required to resources and facilities many began to offer managed services and from here naturally progressed to the Cloud.
Despite a seemingly easy jump, ISPs can face challenges with automation, efficiency and maintaining industry standards at competitive prices. It’s worth considering that infrastructure isn’t always cutting edge which could be a problem for some businesses.
Value-added Resellers (VARs)
VARs exist to buy and implement IT on behalf of other companies. On-premise hardware was the traditional route but with more companies realising the power of the Cloud, VARs realised offering complete solution also required Cloud hosting, and to do this they would have to partner up with a hosting infrastructure provider.
Customised infrastructure comes with a hefty price tag that can sometimes make the services unrealistic for SMBs. But, if cost is no problem VARs perform to a consistently high standard without the need to be hands on yourself.
These companies originate from shared web hosting, serving hundreds of thousands of websites across many servers. Over the years investment has centred on infrastructure, automation, resource management and speed of provisioning. In fact their best practice often sets the Cloud industry standard.
Mass hosters’ make sure that they retain their loyal customer base with a mixture of standard products and fully customisable, service wrap options while always maintaining their focus on agility, price and features
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Understanding the pros and cons of each type of Cloud provider is the most logical starting point and should assist in drawing up a shortlist of vendors that could fulfil strategic needs. To narrow this list further these questions are key before signing any contract:
- What level of IT expertise do you have in-house and do you require from a vendor?
- Is the provider from a reputable brand that will remain profitable in a fluid marketplace?
- Is the vendor’s knowledge of application and system-level managed services sufficient?
- Are the Support Team or available service wraps adequate?
It is essential to cover the basics at the same time – ask about costs, security and uptime guarantees. Ultimately, whatever the vendor’s background, make sure that the vendor has technical competency, great strategic partnerships and that any efficiencies offered are values that can and would be reflected across your business.