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25 Critical Questions For Your Cloud Provider

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07 Oct 2014

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It seems the industry is embracing the term “cloud” and all manner of companies are now wanting to be seen to offer cloud services. But what does that actually mean and how can you, as a customer, differentiate between the offerings? At the end of the day, it really does come down to the user of the cloud service to perform their due diligence and be confident that the service they are buying is actually suitable for their business needs. And be aware - not all clouds are equal, and not all providers offer the same level of service.

Here are 25 of the most critical questions we at ViFX recommend customers ask their potential providers:

  1. Platform – How is your platform comprised? Is it based on commodity hardware or traditional “top 5” vendor technology? Why did you make that choice?
  2. Platform – What is the maximum size cloud server I can deploy on your platform?
  3. Availability – What is your availability target and do you offer any formal compensation should you breach your target?
  4. Availability - What technologies and maintenance procedures have you deployed to ensure you do not breach your target?
  5. Performance – What performance guarantees do you provide? How can I be sure my VMs will offer a consistent level of performance?
  6. Isolation - How do you ensure that the performance demands of one customer cannot impact another?
  7. Security – From a network perspective, how do you ensure that your customers are isolated from each other? What technology have you deployed to ensure this?
  8. Security – How do you protect me from internet threats? What technology have you deployed to achieve this?
  9. Security – What technology have you deployed to help me mitigate the risk of DDoS attacks?
  10. Security – Can I freely run penetration tests against my VMs?
  11. Support – What response time do you provide for support requests and how do you ensure that you meet these?
  12. Support – What formal escalation processes do you have in place during issues?
  13. Transparency – Should issues arise, are you transparent as to the cause and do you provide a root cause analysis?
  14. Data Durability – How do you protect me against data loss? What techniques have you deployed to ensure you never lose my data?
  15. Compliance – How is your operations team structured? How can I be sure that only authorised people have the ability to interact with my cloud servers?
  16. Data Centre – Is your cloud platform collocated or in your own data centre? If collocated, how do you ensure physical security; especially when your platform might reside in “common access” areas?
  17. Internet – What internet bandwidth do you assign for me and is this dedicated, reserved, or 100% shared?
  18. Billing – Do your bills vary month by month based on usage? If so, how can I predict and control my monthly bill (to stop bill shock)?
  19. Billing – Should my cloud servers come under a DDoS attack, will I be charged for the bandwidth consumed?
  20. Standards – Has your platform architecture and deployment been based on any published standards; particularly proven reference architectures?
  21. Data Locality – Where is your platform physically deployed and how can you ensure me that I will not breach in-country “data sovereignty” laws?
  22. Ownership – What is the ownership structure of your company? Is it a local company or international? If international, how do you protect my data against international security agencies accessing it (i.e. do you offer any form of encryption)?
  23. License Portability – Am I able to bring my previously purchased software licenses with me to use on your platform or must I buy all software from you?
  24. OS Support – Do you fully support all version of OS’s available for x86 platforms or do you only offer support for a subset of OS’s and versions?
  25. Future Proof – How will the platform evolve with new technologies and services and do they publish this roadmap?
As you can see there is a lot to take into consideration and these questions are key to understanding the capability of your service provider and should form a core part of any customers “due diligence” process. With these questions answered you will be able to more clearly distinguish between VPS providers vs Hosting providers vs true enterprise Cloud service providers.

ViFX, as an independent cloud consulting partner, are here to help you cut through cloud provider marketing and clearly build a comprehensive view of capabilities. Armed with this information we can then help you to match these against your specific needs to identify the most appropriate cloud model for your businesses.

Is there anything else that you think is important to ask of your cloud provider? Let us know.
James Knapp

Author: James Knapp

James focuses on the cloud technology landscape, developing cloud strategies for our clients, as well as being a regular conference presenter on new IT service delivery models.

07 October 2014 / 0 Comments