Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) helps companies significantly reduce costs by outsourcing underlying IT infrastructure to a cloud provider. However, treading a sensible path through the many available options can be difficult. A poor choice or inadequate planning may actually end up costing more over time. When buying IaaS, don't be swayed by a flashy user interface or exaggerated technological specifications. If other key elements are missing, the results will be disappointing at best. So whether you're a first-time buyer or opting to change vendors. This article will present seven important considerations to think about when buying IaaS in the public cloud.
The Major Advantages of IaaS
Creating an IT infrastructure is expensive and time-consuming for the average business. IaaS providers have significant economies-of-scale and can efficiently administer a far greater number of servers and resources than an average IT department. Service providers typically have better technologies, facilities, redundancies, and security protocols than many in-house shops can afford. The major advantages of IaaS include agility; resiliency: performance: flexibility: cost; integration and automation; and elasticity. These days many are adding data security to that list as well. Also, when vendors offer Content Delivery Networks, load-balancing, and multiple data centers, clients have an opportunity to increase IT performance and redundancies further.
The Importance of Due Diligence
Choosing an IaaS provider may appear to be risk-free since it’s relatively easy to switch vendors. Unfortunately, this confidence can cause buyers to ignore hidden costs of administrative planning, setup time, unforeseen omissions, and so on. At least for a production environment, choosing an IaaS vendor is not something you want to do often, so you need to think carefully about it. There is also the inherent risk in migrating from one provider to another. Not only might data be lost or compromised, but there are also unaccounted man-hours lost in troubleshooting new systematic errors or other disruptions. Finally, the working relationship and support from a vendor is a critical success factor. If you don't do your homework in assessing what your new partner will be like to work with, the outcome may be very frustrating.
What You Should Know Before Buying IaaS
Making a decision when buying IaaS services can be difficult since it isn’t simply a matter of choosing technological components, but a holistic decision that balances a number of complex factors. Another complication is that providers are all different and comparing them takes time and effort. When you are ready to move your critical applications to a public cloud, the following tips can help you make a wiser choice. #1 - Review your business objectives and buying criteria By reflecting on your overall goals, you will be able to make better decisions for long-term benefits. This exercise will help you develop a shortlist of key requirements and a list of questions to ask that are most relevant to your situation. Once this has is done, prioritize your list so that you’re not unduly influenced by the technology alone. #2 - Calculate your required capacities Do this by building an inventory of existing applications, machines currently used, and the historical system resources utilized. This data will help you look at capabilities and pricing with a clearer understanding of what you need. Obviously, this is harder with new applications, but vendors can help, along with drawing on the past experiences of your IT team. #3 - Determine the level of managed services you need Do you need any at all? Which ones are important? How much will they cost? Review the entire vendor portfolio to see how their optional or add-on services might benefit you. Smaller businesses with fewer in-house resources tend to need more services. Larger companies often want to do everything themselves. However, there are sizable IT departments who can manage the infrastructure very effectively but prefer not to so they can focus on other things. #4 - Evaluate each vendor as a potential business partner Find out how long they’ve been in business, what clients they serve, what facilities they use, and what their reputation is for reliability. While it’s important to make sure the vendor can provide a close technological match, it’s also crucial to ensure that they have a solid reputation for providing customer support. Talk to some of their employees and clients, and think about the cultural fit between your two organizations. #5 - Estimate your need for vendor support as best you can For some providers, their level of support stops at the “help screen.” So if you have a more complex environment, and anticipate the need for assistance, learn what the vendors will do for an added fee – or at no extra charge. Also, learn their procedures for getting help, what their response times are like, and the escalation procedures they use. You can count on the fact you will need some support eventually. #6 - Understand the vendors’ APIs and integration options If you have specific requirements already in mind, this may narrow down your field of potential providers. The advantage here is that these features can help streamline your IT processes by giving you greater control and more automation in your environment. #7 - Don't get hung up on technology Many reputable vendors have developed unique ways to deliver quality service without exclusively using brands such as Microsoft, IBM, HP, Cisco, EMC, and VMware. Sure these companies all offer terrific technologies, but it comes with a price. If a vendor can do what you need with the systems and tools they choose to use, you may end up getting more value for the dollar.
Choosing the right IaaS provider is an important decision. Although it can be time-consuming, doing the work upfront pays off in the long run. Depending on the internal resources available, many companies will try a few different vendors with a test environment first before committing to production. This approach makes good sense, but when you’re ready to deploy your business-critical production environment in the cloud, keeping these recommendations in mind should certainly help you make a better decision.