In the excitement of moving to cloud services, it’s easy for organisations to skim past some of the features they’ll receive with their purchase. Failing to thoroughly assess these areas, however, can result in a cloud services implementation that fails to address your business needs or leads to poor performance. Whilst assessing cloud services providers, make sure to carefully scrutinise their data centre, cloud storage and networking capabilities to avoid these issues.
1. Data centres
Selecting a local cloud services provider — particularly one in your state or territory — ensures you know where your data is stored and, therefore, allows you to ensure data sovereignty and promise employees and customers that critical data is being kept onshore. Selecting a local cloud services provider also helps you adhere to Australia’s strict privacy laws. Just last year, the Victorian Privacy Commissioner advised state government organisations to only use cloud services providers that explicitly agree to comply with Victoria’s information privacy laws and that utilise local data centres.
You should give bonus points to cloud services providers that have the ability to host your environment across multiple, geographically disparate locations, which maximises availability, move workloads across the country and provide failover facilities in the event of a localised disaster.
2. Cloud storage
Cloud storage underpins everything in cloud services — you can’t have a workload without cloud storage. Unfortunately, all cloud storage is not created equal. When talking about cloud storage, ask the cloud services provider about the use of thin-provisioning — where cloud storage space is spread out amongst multiple users based on the minimum space each needs — or de-duplication technologies. If the cloud services provider does thin-provision, how do they guarantee your systems are available if other customers start to fully provision their systems? In the case of de-duplication, how do they maximise performance to your workloads in cloud storage?
Organisations should select a cloud services provider that avoids thin-provisioning and over-committing of cloud storage where possible and practical. At the minimum, customers should feel free to peer “under the covers” of the cloud storage. Ask about long-term data: What is the average latency across the entire environment?
Look favourably on cloud services providers with comprehensive, pre-defined backup policies that support recovery of data in cloud storage. After all, a backup is only as good as its associated restore when it comes to cloud storage.
Network analysis, design and connectivity are the largest components of a successful cloud services migration and implementation. Organisations need to consider what the impact of bandwidth to the cloud has on their business applications. Not enough, and business applications will fight each other over congested links, leading to a sub-optimal user experience. Too much, and you’re paying for something you don’t need.
The availability of the network is also key. It’s great to have the required bandwidth — and a little bit of headroom “just in case” — but when that bandwidth is not there for the all-important month-end process, you’ll have a problem. To this end, having the ability to choose a trusted telecommunications provider is vital. Ideally, your telecommunications provider will already have links/points of presence in your cloud services provider’s data centre, reducing the time, effort and complexity of migrating to cloud services. Give extra points to those cloud services providers who are able to host your physical infrastructure within the same data centre as their cloud, giving your physical infrastructure super high-speed connectivity to your cloud resources.
Data centres, cloud storage and networking aren’t the only areas to consider when moving to cloud, but ensuring your provider offers what your business requires in these three aspects will have you on the right path.