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AdvantageOct 10, 2017 12:00:00 AM2 min read

Evaluating Cloud Providers: Plumbing vs. Plumbers

We are in the period of mass adoption for cloud services. It has become easier to justify migrating workloads to the cloud than it is to justify staying on-premises. Despite considerable M&A activity in the space, there is a large number of providers from which to select the best partner(s) for your organization. Despite the fact that effective cloud services have become almost universally available, Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) may not be a commodity given the many variables among compute, storage, and network resources available. Most cloud providers can assemble the resources to handle the workloads you now run on-prem. Other than price, what else should you consider as you evaluate cloud companies?

Major factors that are often implicitly assumed are service and support. Many executives assume that once they move to the cloud, all their support functions are similarly migrated. And that is entirely possible… but only if you contract for it with an organization that is set up to deliver it to your needs.

Another implicit assumption is that the service and support are available from every provider, certainly the industry leaders. Larger organizations tend to have IT support in depth and can manage the migration and operation in the cloud, but even the most capable company can enjoy the expanded capability and capacity of an extended virtual team.

Many cloud providers can deliver a fully integrated service, and these should be given strong consideration. Some support functions are bundled, but many have layers of support – and expense -- to match the customer’s need. The massive scale players (you know who they are) need extensive support to sustain and grow their operations. They can’t perform without the leverage of common standards and super-efficient operations. They have the capability, but they don’t offer the capacity to handle each and every client’s need for support. Their very largest customers can receive the best support, but all others have to make other arrangements for support activities. The industry giants’ IaaS plumbing is first rate, but the skilled plumbers to set up how you connect and keep it going are missing to all but a handful of very large customers.

An emerging trend is contracting with a second partner that provides the managed service layer on top of the cloud infrastructure. There is already an extensive and growing ecosystem of companies that deliver services to connect to the world class plumbing you just agreed to purchase. They support your need for architectural design, security, needed conversions, migration, and ongoing optimization of your environment. They have the certified expertise and close working relationship with the cloud provider to make it possible to get the greatest benefit from your moving to the cloud.

Your cloud partner makes available their high-power plumbing to drive whatever workloads you ask them to run. The managed service providers – the plumbers -- do the heavy lifting to make sure your environment has the right configuration that fosters agility today and enables you to stay current with rapidly changing capabilities in the future.