Five Things to Consider When Selecting a Cloud Provider

ibm i cloud provider
By Laurie LeBlanc

Deciding to move to the cloud is often a decision made by the business; the idea is to reduce overhead and costs.  With so many companies offering cloud-based services, it can be difficult to determine which one is the best fit.  The truth is that not all cloud providers are created equal, and it’s important to consider several things when selecting your cloud provider.

The key is that you have to protect your business. Which means you have to find a partner who can deliver the solution you need, and ensure that your data is protected and available. 

Below are five areas you should consider when selecting a cloud provider.

Security

Security should be at the top of your mind when you are considering moving your infrastructure to the cloud.  Data is an asset and protecting your data is critical for your business.  Security is critical to protecting your data, and to ensure you comply with regulations. Moving your environment to the cloud is a risk from an audit point of view.  Suddenly your sensitive data is outside of your control, and auditors need to ensure that your data is protected.

First and foremost your provider should have a real Network Operations Center (NOC) with the ability to prevent unauthorized personnel from even getting into the server room.  Physical security needs to be taken into consideration first.  The area should be monitored with cameras, as well.  You need to know who enters the room, when they do and when they exit in order to secure the physical hardware.

How you connect to the cloud is also an important consideration.  Ensuring that you don’t have unauthorized access means you have to put in place a secure and encrypted connection.  It’s important that the provider can be flexible with allowing you to setup your connections to meet your needs and that you also remain in compliance with any regulations. Does your provider provide direct VPN tunnels?  Will they allow you to put your network equipment in the data center? Understanding what is available is another critical step.

In addition to physical security and connectivity, you also have to consider data protection. Protecting sensitive data is a key requirement, and encypytion is a method to ensure that data can not be accessed should it fall into the wrong hands. In the finance market there are regulations which require companies to encrypt their data at rest, which is something you can’t do with internal disks on POWER.  Not only do you need to worry about whether or not they can support encryption for disk, but you also have to consider whether or not the backups can be encrpypted.  Again, it’s about ensuring you can protect your data.

Geographical Location

Extreme weather can wreak havoc on data centers. Many areas of the country experience extreme weather events, whether it’s a heat wave or a hurricane these events can affect your data center. If your cloud provider is in an area that experiences extreme weather than it’s important to ensure that their data center is fully redundant and that they have a disaster recovery plan for your environment. 

Data Center

Many companies offer cloud services, but they may or may not be in a real data center with physical security and full redundancies.  The physical location, having dual power sources, dual UPS’s, dual air conditioners and multiple providers for connectivity make a difference when selecting a partner.  Be sure that your environment is protected in an actual data center and not just in an office building.

Scalability

Some cloud providers offer a one size fits all approach to their cloud offer.  Every company is unique, and it’s important to have a cloud provider who can scale with your business.  In some cases, companies want to reduce the workload on IBM i, and in those cases, it’s helpful to be able to reduce the resources as the environment shrinks.  In other cases, companies anticipate and plan for growth and need to know that their cloud provider can support their need for increased resources.  Be sure that your partner offers a scalable solution that can be adjusted to fit your needs.

Support

Making sure that your cloud provider with keep your data secure and offer the high availability you expect, is just one piece of the cloud puzzle.  It’s also important to understand who will support you if you have a problem.  You want to be sure that the support team has the experience, knowledge and know how to fix any issues with your cloud environment before your business suffers.

In addition to the people who will support you, you should also understand what your support contracts include.  Does it include any services such as OS upgrades or PTF updates?  Who is responsible for backups? 

Often when companies move to the cloud, they also want to outsource the administration of the hardware to the provider. If you are planning to outsource your system administration, it is even more important that you choose the right provider. 

iTech’s iInTheCloud hosting solution is located in a Tier 3 data center located in Michigan, which is completely secure and has a fully redundant infrastructure.  We choose Michigan because it has a cool temperature overall, which helps keep cooling costs down and has very few natural disasters. Keeping your data safe by following your security protocols and providing features like encryption at rest for data. Our knowledge and experienced technicians can help support your cloud environment to ensure it runs at it’s peak and can provide assistance with PTFs, OS Upgrades or full Managed Administration Services.

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