By Dave Martin, Head of DevOps, Rufus Leonard
Cloud adoption is on the rise, with more and more businesses realising its obvious benefits - faster time to market, lower cost platforms and the ability to provide more agility which helps them towards their digital transformation goals. According to a recent survey by Forbes, 73% of all organisations have at least one application or portion of the business on the cloud, and of those who are not yet using it, 15% intend to adopt some sort of cloud app or platform in the next year. But with so many options available how do businesses approach finding the right cloud partner?
Whilst cloud adoption is not something that should keep businesses awake at night, it is also important to remember that it’s not an easy process that requires ‘no IT’, nor does it guarantee a ‘lower-cost delivery model’.
Deciding on the right cloud solution provider (CSP) for your business can be a challenge. When tackling this, there are a few things businesses need to keep in mind to help simplify the process.
Planning is key
Firstly, it’s essential to think about the type of platform that will work best for the organisation’s needs. If decision makers are not aware of how the business is running, and where it is going, then they can’t be expected to make an informed decision on finding the type of platform that will fit in best.
Similarly, planning the potential scale and complexity of the solution is also crucial. Key players within the business need to be informed and to understand the length of the operation, and that it is not a simple quick fix for any business. Choosing to adopt a cloud provider is a long term, strategic decision which needs to factor in a company’s current strengths but also how it can help to address any weaker areas.
Strategy before action
Moving all your IT systems to the cloud instantly may have strong appeal, but in reality, this is unrealistic. Not everything can or should be moved, and you will also need to consider the order of migration and impact on business and staff. Considering the unique needs of your organisation will be critical to developing a plan that unlocks the benefits of the cloud without compromising security, daily business activities, existing legacy systems or wasting budget.
Finding the perfect partner
There are different types of CSP partners, which can suit different business needs. It is good to understand where your potential CSP partner is regarded, and therefore if they can provide your business with the right cloud support that is needed.
Pioneers are the most complete in terms of their offering and the value added to you – these partners are leading the shift to the cloud. Typically, implementation and migration experts, but they also have to ability to resell licenses for multiple cloud platforms.
Builders have extensive market knowledge and cloud experience. They tend to work best with large enterprises that require assistance with strategic and transformative work.
Transactors mainly sell bulk loads of hardware and software services. The potential problems with this type of CSP is that they can be limited in terms of the additional services they can provide, meaning a low total value to you.
Specialists will normally operate in niche industries and have a limited offering. That being said, they do excel at what they deliver; but they are highly specialised, so their value and offerings are limited in-house (although tend to use other partners to deliver more services).
What should I look for in a CSP?
Regardless of the CSP you end up choosing – for example, Amazon, Google, Microsoft or Oracle – they will all offer and provide you with similar global and technology services. Unless you are a large global player, getting direct access to these will be a challenge. Therefore, a recommendation is to look at smaller Premium or Gold partners of these CSPs. They will provide you with the bundle of managed services (such as consulting, design, migration, implementation, and life-cycle management) in a much more competitive, agile and personalised nature.
How do you know if you’ve chosen the right CSP?
Your ideal CSP should be a strategic partner that is valued on both sides of the relationship. Work is required from both sides, to ensure that your vision and goals are clear from the start, and that your cloud partner is capable of helping you achieve this. If you have chosen a multivendor approach, it is important that each of them knows exactly where they fit in to the plan and can work together to meet the needs of your business.
Be prepared to educate employees on the correct usage of cloud solutions, and ensure your office is a positive environment where employees feel they can share and ask questions during the process. Having a regular point of contact for your CSP, will really help to ensure all questions are addressed and answered early in the process. Furthermore, lay out exactly what success looks like, directly to your CSP and to your employees – how do you see the CSP improving operations, and what are the wider effects of this?
Make it personal
Finally, it is important to highlight the importance of getting to know the company that is helping you to deliver your goals and ambitions, and to relay the expectations you have directly with them. If possible, make sure to attend events that are meaningful to what you are trying to deliver and can help to give you more of an insight into what you are trying to achieve that you can ten relay back to you CSP. Building and maintaining these relationships with your CSP, and with your employees will help understand what motivates each of you and build more interest in the partnership and services being delivered. It can be vital when faced with challenges as that relationship will result in a collaborative endeavour to ensure the issue is resolved, and to work on future processes that will prevent such issues arising again, continuously improving the relationship between you and your cloud solutions provider