I recently read an article by Beth Shultz from Computer World on the different sources she used to investigate IaaS and how to pick your next partner.
It raises a lot of questions, a few I would like to look at more deeply.
IaaS — Picking Your Partner
I completely agree that when moving to IaaS you need to review your current partner list, and look at your demands your provider needs to be able to cope with. All too often there is a comfort factor when looking at cloud. People look at what they get already and look to bolt on for an additional cost saving exercise. After all, what they are implementing is an overhaul of their current IT architecture for either a short or long term period. People need to review their current list of suppliers. A company may be great as Software as a Service (SaaS), but that does not mean that they have the credentials to support you. The companies that make your shortlist need to be able to demonstrate that they have the IT estate to cope with your demands. They must be able to demonstrate that they have the security measures for the desired access that your company and workforce need.
However, where they are at present is not the be all and end all. When selecting a partner, you need to know about their organisation, and, more importantly, what their focus is. You want a company that invests in not only their IT estate and features, but also in the people sitting behind the cloud. It is fine when everything works smoothly, but if there is a problem, you need to know that the people are competent enough to cope with requests and keep up with demand. I recommend you select a leader, and make sure that the risk constant investment could pose to you organisation is fully assessed. Make sure that the people who support you have the demonstrated skills required.
IaaS — Clouds with Faces
This brings me to the people. Service Level Agreements are key when looking at IaaS. It doesn’t matter if it is managed through a third party or in-house. Robust SLA’s act as a benchmark, and they help you to measure and manage success. As you will rarely meet or see the people that are working on your network, you need to make sure that processes are in place to deliver the key metrics you require. Recognition of problems, support response time, management reports, and ROI reports are just some of the tasks we take for granted. Setting out and managing these tasks is a two way street. You must put the pressure on your IaaS provider to help you achieve your goals, and don’t expect your provider to deliver a high standard service off their own back. Sure, some people out there will do this or at least strive to do this with their customers. But remember, it is your network and your business, and the impact affects you. You must take ownership, and developing robust service level agreements is your responsibility to make sure they are in place, managed, and amended where necessary.
Is IaaS in its Infancy?
Is it really? Maybe on this sort of scale I would agree with you. But aren’t the basics of what we are talking about good old Utility computing on a larger scale? Maybe we have ramped it up a bit and placed a much heavier emphasis on the external hosting companies rather than a process of internal billing. Some people will say that I am being far too simplistic and that IaaS is a far greater and complex arena than Utility computing. That is true, but if we strip things back to the bare bones, we took an older concept and added further layers on top. We used Utility computing as the foundations for IaaS, but I do believe that the further layers and development over the next few years will take this concept to the same level as SaaS and be something more of us will use and implement.