Successfully purchasing cloud services requires careful consideration. Here are five tips that should be adopted.
Over the past five years or so, cloud computing has become all the rage. A broad range of services, and permutations of services, are now being offered and continue to emerge, thereby providing a variety of options, and solution providers, from which to choose. It is thus incumbent on client organisations to be prudent and judicious in the manner in which they select their cloud service providers, cognisant of the disruptive and, at worst, disastrous consequences that could occur if poor choices is made.
Here are five tips that should be incorporated into your organisation’s process to secure cloud solutions, in order improve you and your staff’s experience with the selected cloud service.
1. Be clear about the organisation’s needs
Although this point might be obvious, when in the throes of examining service offerings, it is easy to get side-tracked (or overwhelmed) by the plethora of features that are being offered, or by the salesperson’s recommendations of what he/she believes your organisation needs.
In doing your homework in advance, there is a greater chance of being prepared, asking the right questions, and making informed decisions. Prior to engaging vendors on their solutions, it is crucial to determine, among other things,
- what are the organisation’s needs
- what are the objectives in adopting a cloud solution
- what outcomes are desired, and
- what infrastructure and systems the organisation currently possesses, and
- what internal upgrades (if any) might be needed to support a cloud solution.
2. Research prospective service providers
Regardless of the cloud service your organisation is looking to secure, it is important to research prospective service providers – even if they are considered big names in the industry. In almost every cloud segment there numerous providers from which to choose; hence is it critical to get a sense of:
- how long they have been established
- their reputation
- how their organisation and service(s) have been set up
- their capability/expertise and capacity to deliver the services advertised
- their service-related policies; and
- the extent to which they might be compatible with (or complement) your organisation.
The extent to which your organisation can separate the ‘wheat from the chaff’, to determine which cloud providers might be worth approaching, not only improves one’s preparation, but also reduces the information imbalance that can exist between a provider and a prospective client. Further during the engagement, do ask the tough questions, and be prepared to ask for evidence to support their claims, and that they are operating consistent in industry standards or best practice.
3. Trial the selected provider and the service
Before your organisation signs on the dotted line in a long-term commitment to a particular cloud provider for a particular service, it is critical to ask for a reasonable trial period in which to evaluate the service in your organisation. When cloud solutions are introduced, existing work processes may need to be adjusted, and hopefully are easy for staff to use and to adopt. Further, is important to get a sense of the service quality and the compatibility of the provider and the organisation in practice, before a long term and more involved relationship is established.
4. Establish success measures
Following from the first point, it is crucial to evaluate the solution that has been selected to ensure that the objectives, goals and outcomes have been achieved. Many organisations ignore this step, and end up paying for cloud services that may not be truly fulfilling their needs.
While it may be argued that those needs might not have been realistic in the first place, or could not be satisfied based on whatever constraints had to be factored in, it is still important to acknowledge this. Further, the organisation would then be in a position to continually review the matter to determine whether other providers can satisfy its needs, or whether when its circumstances have changed significantly enough for different choices to be made.
5. Manage the internal changes
Finally, it is not all the responsibility of the cloud provider that there is success in the engagement. The organisation ought to be proactive in managing the internal changes that are needed to integrate whatever cloud solutions that have been selected into work processes, and try to ease the transition that their teams may need to make. Hence staff training might and revision of existing procedures and process flows might be needed, and should be considered during the planning process, and implemented accordingly.
Image credit: BasicGov (flickr)