If you’re reading this, you’ve probably already zeroed in on the cloud as the home for your IT infrastructure. If you’ve chosen Amazon Web Services (AWS), it’s not surprising. AWS is and has been the leader in cloud services since the company pioneered the very concept of it, way back in 2006. In 2021, Gartner for the 11th successive year, again named AWS as the leader in cloud services. So if you’ve picked Amazon Web Services to be your cloud provider, you’ve probably made the right decision.
But even if you’ve already done your due diligence, here’s a short checklist to ensure you’re selecting the right cloud service provider for your needs.
Certifications & Standards
Certifications are the definitive way to demonstrate adherence to industry best practices and standards. Picking providers who comply with accepted standards and quality frameworks should be the first step in shortlisting potential providers. Look for accredited certifications like ISO 27001, as well as general ones for structured processes, data management, security, et. al. Also find out how the provider plans to maintain adherence to these standards in the future.
Technologies and Services
Can the provider’s cloud architectures, standards, and services support your workloads? How much customization will you have to do to align your workloads to their platform norms? These are important questions to ask, because many a time, you may need third-party support to fill the skill gaps. In these cases, does the platform have a partner program from which they can recommend partners who have the necessary expertise and experience?
It is also important to know the provider’s plans for service development and to understand how well their plans to innovate and grow align with your own long-term needs. Important aspects to consider here include the portfolio of services on offer and commitment to particular technologies and vendors
Ensure your provider can support regulatory data privacy rules. If you have specific requirements, pick providers that provide control over locations where your data is stored and managed. AWS is transparent about its data center locations but it is your responsibility to assess this factor including the provider’s ability to protect data in transit, i.e. moving to, within, and from the cloud. Understand the provider’s processes regarding data loss and breaches and make sure they meet your own legal/regulatory obligations.
Service providers usually have many vendors, and their relationships with their vendors is another important factor to assess. Consider factors like accreditation levels, technical abilities, staff certifications, etc. also understand how well the services offered integrate with complementing services, for instance: a SaaS CRM should integrate with finance and marketing.
Factors to help clarify risk
Contracts and SLAs
Cloud agreements are complex and you must ensure there is full transparency. SLAs in particular are often subverted through complicated, and ambiguous language. Check for out-of-the-ordinary terms and conditions. If you have any out-of-the-box terms, be sure that the provider regardless of their willingness to support them can also exhibit capability.
Some key factors, regarding contracts, to consider, include
Roles & responsibilities
Disaster Recovery & Continuity
Fees and commercials
Data management & security
Data ownership and usage rights
Reliability & Performance
You can measure the reliability of a service provider in a number of ways:
Compare their previous year’s performance vis-a-vis their SLAs; check downtime experiences; ensure there are monitoring and reporting tools in place and that the provider has a proven and documented process of dealing with unplanned downtime, and communication such incidents with customers.
Check disaster recovery provisions, and the provider’s ability to meet your data management expectation in terms of recovery time objectives. If the costs pertaining to recovers are not fully covered by the provider, you can consider additional risk insurance.
Vendor Lock-in and Exit Planning
Vendor lock-in is a process whereby the service provider tries to keep you from easily transitioning to a competitor. These situations are usually the outcome of using proprietary technologies (if your applications need to be re-architected to run on a provider’s platform, for instance), inefficient processes or contract terms, among other factors. Such factors impact the portability of your apps and workloads to other providers. Common examples include
Proprietary application architecture/management tools
Proprietary cloud APIs
Customized web services, like databases
Unstandardized data formats
To protect yourself from vendor lock-in situations, you can do the following:
pick value-added services that have comparative alternatives
periodically review these alternative options
Watch out for modifications in configurations, policies, technologies, etc. that might be introduced retroactively or a part of ongoing review processes
It might seem contrary to plan an exit before a relationship has even begun, but think of it as a prenup to protect yourself in the event of a breakdown in the relationship. Migrating from one CSP to another is never smooth so make sure you know the process before signing on. One of the factors you must check is data access: i.e. its state, and how long the provider will have it.
Assessing the financial health of your potential provider is just as critical as checking their technical and operational capabilities. There is no point in signing on for the most compatible or economical cloud service if the provider’s business itself is not steady. The provider should have a robust tranck record of stability, with a healthy financial position, and the capital to continue operations in the long term. From a legal-financial standpoint, check if the CSP has or has had any legal issues, and how they might respond to litigation; check about planned mergers and acquisitions.
It’s a good idea to look at the CSP’s social media pages, e.g. LinkedIn, it can be quite revealing.
Selecting the Best AWS Partner
In the event that you’re due diligence validates your choice of AWS as your CSP, the next step is to pick the right AWS Partner.
Remember, although AWS is known to provide a highly reliable, scalable, and cost-effective infrastructure, with innovation at its core, its management doesn’t include management of your particular cloud.
Moving to AWS calls for specialized experience to take advantage of its vast menu of web services. This is why it is so important to choose the right AWS partner. To enable this AWS has instituted the AWS Partner Network—a collection of certified AWS experts who can leverage AWS technology and services to meet your business objectives. Here are the prime factors you should consider when choosing an AWS Partner for your business.
Why pick an AWS partner.
To answer this question, you need to ask yourself a few questions too. Such as
- What are my goals—short- and long-term?
- What do i hope to achieve?
- What are my priorities
- What internal AWS experience can I count on?
- How involved do I want to be in managing my cloud?
Depending on your answers, you can choose…
the D-I-Y Approach: Using your own in-house resources, including certified AWS engineers
The Hybrid Approach: A bit of both often gives you the best of both worlds, plus you can build DevOps practices, improve your own team’s skills and push innovation internally
Total outsourcing: This is a good idea if your organization is new to AWS and you need to move quickly. This approach assures the best resources and professional service.
Applied AI Consulting: AWS Partner of Choice
As a member of the AWS Partner Network, AAIC can help you architect your infrastructure, migrate, and manage your workloads & applications to AWS and optimize it for efficiency and cost on an ongoing basis. We offer a full menu of cloud services, including migration, DevOps, and automation.
What’s in it for you?
When you partner with AAIC, you get the full benefit of a professional, AWS team with years of experience in deploying AWS projects. This will help you generate massive savings in time and money, not to mention, preventing errors that can undermine your competitiveness.
AAIC can chart and guide you on a transformative AWS digital path that is designed according to your needs, with resources and talent to help you succeed on the AWS cloud in the shortest possible time frame.