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What to Consider When Looking For IaaS Providers

Apr 9, 2013 6:00:00 AM

by Charles Bystock

infrastructure as a serviceIT outsourcing has expanded so broadly that you can now embrace Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) for virtually any aspect of your IT operations. From data center outsourcing providers to hosting and cloud providers, you’ll find an entire spectrum of options that could significantly boost your efforts to control costs while acquiring the future-oriented services your company needs to remain competitive and grow.

Differentiation among IT functions has blurred, a fact reflected in the diverse business models and the various architectures and features offered by providers. As you investigate Infrastructure as a Service, you may well decide that your ideal solution includes more than one provider.

How do you decide what’s appropriate for you?

Whatever you choose, the technical details of your Infrastructure as a Service implementation will affect your entire enterprise, from availability and performance to security and, of course, costs.

Look at both the technical and the business side of prospective providers. Obviously they have to be capable of providing the IT services you require, in the manner and at the volume you need. But you’re looking to establish an ongoing working relationship, so your provider should also be financially stable and innovation-oriented to grow with you.

Without all these traits, your efforts to adopt Infrastructure as a Service – and, more importantly, your company’s ability to flex and thrive in the future – are likely to come up short.

Even though you expect to work with your provider for several years, you might consider retaining the ability to re-evaluate or re-negotiate keySLArequirements periodically during the term of your contract, to ensure you remain current with rapidly evolving technology.

A comprehensive, systematic approach ensures you’re comparing apples to apples.

Adopting Infrastructure as a Service can bring you tremendous cost efficiencies and smooth the way for a total transformation, if that’s where you’re headed. Considering all the factors that produce a good fit will help you make the most appropriate and profitable decision.

Uniform evaluation tools, such as a chart you can use to quantify and appropriately compare potential providers, can ensure your decision-making process is fact-based and thorough. As you create your chart, you should consider tangible factors such as:

  • The range of services offered – is the provider adept at everything you need?
  • Pricing – does the provider offer standard and optional premium services, or do they offer tiered service levels?
  • Performance and availability -- how do they, and how will you, measure platform function and service quality? What’s their uptime average?
  • SLAs – what key performance indicators will you use to measure achievement?
  • Risk management – how will they respond to and manage incidents, isolated or widespread?
  • Support – do they offer online, phone and live chat support? 24/7? Are any of these considered premium services?

Cultural fit matters, too.

There are two cultural factors you should consider. First, look inward to determine whether your people – enterprise-wide, not just your IT personnel – are ready to roll with whatever changes they’ll experience as a result of your move to Infrastructure as a Service. Will those changes be pronounced? Or minimal?

Your potential outsourcing provider has an internal culture, too. To build a solid working relationship, you’ll have to work together smoothly, and you can’t determine that without meeting and getting to know each prospect. If the fit is right, the service-related factors will align with your goals and needs, and the cultural fit will feel comfortable, too.

Photo credit: SupportBiz via Flickr

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