We live and work in a world obsessed with speed. We know that the lift won’t come any faster when we repeatedly push the call button, but we do it anyway because we can’t stand to waste those seconds it takes to arrive.

We are conditioned to expect everything to be faster, better and cheaper. In short, impatience has become the new 21st century virtue and influences all aspects of business, particularly when it comes to technology.

Expectations are especially high around cloud computing, which boasts big efficiency and cost saving benefits. But what makes a fast cloud and, more importantly, what do we want to avoid for fear of being in the slow lane?

There are two factors that dictate the speed of any cloud service. The first factor to consider is how much of the shared resources are dedicated to you? The economics of cloud computing are such that the smart operator will make more money if it can get everyone to use as much of your computing and storage resources without contending them, thereby, guaranteeing performance.

How do you know they have sufficient resources for this? Well, generally you don’t. However, a sensible Service Level Agreement and a track record in serving the right kind of customers are just a couple of ways to get a solid level of confidence in the resources on offer.

Whilst most operators should be able to control contention, the second and less controllable factor when it comes to speed, is the network your cloud computing uses and the network you use to get to your computing and storage. Network and general traffic transfer can also be a source of hidden cost so getting a reliable and predictable connection is crucial for cost effective fast solution.

The internet is becoming a fairly predictable “super highway”, as long as you are on the highway and not on a side road. So it’s more important than ever to check your provider’s connectivity if you don’t want to get left behind. Some do offer direct access, but as most cloud providers don’t have a network of their own they will either try to play down the significance of this, or charge you extra every time you want to make a direct connection (after all, they’re getting charged by the network provider, so they need to pass that cost on).

A better option for a scalable and high capacity cloud is to turn to the providers who are able to carry more of that traffic across networks they control. When paired with technologies like MPLS traffic can be secured, allowing for private cloud security with public cloud convenience. In simple terms, if a provider has an expansive network with big connectivity to the major content providers your cloud computing experience is predictable. In the case of public solutions your customer experience will also be that much better.

Many organisations are now getting past the point of deciding whether to invest in cloud computing or not. At the start of the year Gartner revealed that CIOs are now taking it seriously and rank it within their top three technology priorities for 2012. We’re becoming well versed in the benefits that this kind of technology can bring on a business level, so now the more pressing question is no longer whether cloud computing is right for you, but what kind of cloud service offers you what you need, and who is best placed to deliver it to you?