Today, the majority of the companies across industries like IT, healthcare, consumer, retail, manufacturing, etc. are making a move to the cloud. The businesses have realized its potential and the cloud computing service market is growing exponentially that eliminates costly, time consuming, and complex in-house cloud infrastructure management. However, among all the aspects of migrating the entire business process to the cloud, selecting Cloud Service Provider (CSP) is the most crucial and complicated part. Choosing the right cloud provider is not a choice, it is an absolute necessity now.
There are multiple cloud service providers like AWS, Ayla, Clearblade, Azure, Everything, etc. in the market, out of which AWS (Amazon Web Services), GCP (Google Cloud Platform), and Microsoft Azure are major players. AWS has been in the market since long and as per Synergy Research, AWS has a market share of 33%, Microsoft Azure has 13% and GCP has 6% as a cloud service provider. Such providers offer three kinds of service models – Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).
Based on the connected application scenario, businesses can decide the service model on how much shared management responsibility they want at their end and at the cloud provider’s end. Depending on each cloud offerings, cloud platforms can be chosen for specific industry connected solutions like Ayla for consumer and ISPs, Evrythng for retail, AWS, Clearblade, and Azure for Industrial Automation, and so on. There are certain parameters for long term success that play a key role while choosing a cloud service provider. Let us look into those deciding factors in our blog ahead.
Security and compliance
For any cloud connected application, security is the most important and essential thing which needs to be considered. Most of the cloud service providers offer robust security, out of which some features are free and some are paid. Before selecting any cloud provider, the user needs to check which security features fit for their application and are easy to integrate. Also, users need to verify how cloud providers encrypt data and information to secure it from any attack and comply with industry standards. For example, if the cloud application to be designed belongs to the healthcare domain then it should be verified whether the cloud provider complies with HIPAA or not. If security of the data is concerned then one needs to check if the cloud provider has ISO 27001, cyber essential certificate or not.
Cloud provides multiple securities like IAM (Identity Access Management), Multi Factor authentication, etc. One can assign a custom role of Read, Write, Delete to each resource and also to a group. Each user will perform only those operations whose access is given to them.
There are several methods to check reliability of the cloud provider like SLA (Service level agreement), performance and financial condition. Major players in cloud service providers like AWS, Azure give surety for 99.99% availability SLA for production grade servers. Users need to verify the performance growth and financial condition of the cloud service provider just to ensure that provider should be able to support the user’s expansion plan in terms of infrastructure and technology when required.
Nowadays, the cloud connected application design approach is very popular. Each cloud provider offers multiple managed services and the companies can select the services best fitting their application. All services together perform operations to achieve specific goals for the application deployed. Benefits of having such architecture is you can scale independent components as per the requirement instead of the entire server.
Companies need to explore which architecture type suits their application – Serverless, Virtual Machine, Web Application etc. If a user is already using Microsoft licenses then Microsoft Azure can be a good cloud choice to integrate. Currently, most of the cloud service providers support serverless architecture. In this architecture, users need not worry about infrastructure, scalability, performance, etc., they have to focus on application and pay as per the consumption.
It will be charged based on the number of calls. For instance, serverless architecture best fits a company that has developed an Android gaming app and just wants to store user’s information along with the number of levels, user’s achievements, etc. and retrieve it when he plays the game. They can save/retrieve user’s data and pay only for the number of times the server is called.
One needs to opt for a virtual server, if the user already runs the server and wants to migrate on cloud or he wants a server that can be self-managed to install all software required for the application, scale it, logging, etc. It is IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) and can be scaled in/out as per the need.
Apart from above two architecture options, organizations can also go for Web Application deployment which is offered by different providers using different names. Azure offers it as Azure App service, GCP offers it as App Engine, and AWS offers it as Elastic Beanstalk. In this architecture, the application owner is not worried about infrastructure, OS or software installation. They can directly deploy the code and run the application.
Disaster recovery management
Most service providers support recovery management. They provide multi zone, multi region scaling options which allow them to run the same application, whether any server fails due to any natural cause or hardware failure. Users will not lose the data as it will be replicated in multiple servers. So it would be preferable to have instance copy in more than one region or zone. Even it would help you in auto scaling/performance improvement.
For ex. in AWS, if a user selects one region in the East US and sets one more copy of the same virtual machine in the Europe region, then it can be configured in Route53 module that Europe server will respond to any requests coming from that region. This will reduce the route time and balance the load as well.
Analytics and reporting
Analytics and reporting is one of the crucial parameters in the cloud to track and analyze important metrics. Nowadays cloud service providers give advanced analytics service which gives historical data analysis to customers which enable them to see if the business goals are being achieved or not. Even cloud providers allow advanced logging and reporting of service which gives a clear idea about traffic, resource consumption and many more in the cloud. It even helps when any resource fails to serve. It can be tracked through logs. Azure provides Application insights along with advanced query language search support. Similarly, AWS provides CloudWatch, Elasticsearch/Kibana integration.
Users must consider this parameter as how quickly service providers deliver support for the query. In most cases, the user gets support on call or chat but sometimes it is not enough. Users must check which types of support service provider offers. However, if an organization expects the business and operations to be running on weekends or holidays, then they must opt for a hosting provider that offers unlimited 24×7 support even on non-working days.
Cost is the vital factor for any business. But on cloud one cannot compare directly among different providers. User needs to be very clear about the application requirements and needs to check the costing of all the services together and then decide. They should not just check the hosting charges, but overall services usage cost. As it is not advisable to migrate from one cloud provider to another frequently mere for any feature or one service cost. Every service provider has their own way of billing. Users will get multiple plans by each provider like Pay-as-you-go, reserved instance, dedicated resources, etc.
To explain, if one wants to set up a virtual machine with Pay-as-you-go then one has to pay per second and when the virtual machine is not in use, it will not charge anything. For reserved and dedicated resources, one needs to pay a predefined amount but can get discounts for reservation of resources.
To summarize, businesses must look for long-term partnerships with cloud providers. Business communications are important and one must get the most out of its investment. All the above mentioned parameters should be analytically compared for different cloud providers before deciding the best fit for the user requirement that can deliver the features and resources at optimized cost to support ongoing business operations.
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