The lack of a consistent methodology for evaluating Cloud Service Providers (CSPs), along with the reality that no two CSPs are alike, might make choosing the correct one for your company difficult.
When you consider that more and more enterprises are choosing a multi-cloud approach (In fact, by 2022, Gartner predicts that 75 percent of businesses will be employing a multi-cloud approach) for a multitude of reasons, including cost savings, reduced risk of vendor lock-in, and data portability, selecting CSPs becomes even more difficult. When abstraction technologies like containers are implemented, workloads become more transferable between CSPs.
How do you pick a public cloud provider — or multiple cloud providers if you’re going multi-cloud? Let’s take a closer look.
Evaluation Criteria for Cloud Services
When deciding which cloud provider(s) to utilize, consider the possibilities that different providers supply and how they will complement your specific company characteristics and objectives.
The following are the most important factors to consider for practically every business:
1. Security – You should know exactly what your security objectives are, assess the security protections each supplier offers, and what procedures and security controls they employ to safeguard your apps, intellectual property, and data. Also, make certain you fully comprehend the exact areas in which each party is liable. (For reference, see AWS’s Shared Responsibility Model documentation, as well as Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud’s security measures).
Because security is a key priority in the cloud (and everywhere else these days), it’s vital to ask specific and extensive questions about your specific use cases, industry, legal needs, and any other issues you may have.
2. Architecture – Consider how the architecture will be integrated into your workflows today and in the future when selecting a cloud provider. If your company has already invested extensively in the Microsoft universe, it may make sense to move forward with Azure because Microsoft provides licenses to its clients (and often some free credits). When making your decision, you may also want to think about cloud storage designs.
The three major suppliers have comparable designs and offer many types of storage to meet diverse needs when it comes to storage, but they all have different forms of archive storage. If you care about this, you’ll want to know the little variations between them. Each service provides options for regularly storing and accessing data vs. infrequently retrieving data (hot vs. cool storage).
3. Compliance – Make sure you choose a cloud platform that can assist you in meeting industry and organization compliance criteria (this point is especially important if you work in banking or finance, which is a heavily regulated industry). Whether you’re bound by SOC 2, PCI DSS, HIPAA, or any other framework, be sure you know what it will take to ensure compliance once your applications and data are hosted on a public cloud. Make sure you know what you’re responsible for and what areas of compliance the provider will assist you with.
4. Cloud Service Level Agreements (SLAs) – When you have stringent needs for availability, reaction speed, capacity, and support, service levels are critical to consider. When picking a cloud provider, Cloud Service Level Agreements (Cloud SLAs) are an important factor to consider. It’s critical for a cloud service customer and a cloud service provider to create a clear contractual (read: legally enforceable) connection.
You should also pay close attention to the legal requirements for the security of data stored in a cloud service. You must be able to trust your cloud provider to do the right thing (especially in the event of disaster recovery), and you must have a legal agreement in place to protect you in the event that something goes wrong.
5. Manageability – You should also spend some time understanding what various cloud platforms will require of you in terms of management. Each service interfaces with a variety of other services and supports multiple orchestration tools.
If you have any services that are critical to your business, be sure the cloud provider you choose has an easy way to integrate them (or that your organization is comfortable porting over to a similar service that is supported). Before making a final selection, you should figure out how much time and effort it will take your team to handle various components of the cloud infrastructure.
6. Support – Another variable that must be carefully considered is support. Will you be able to receive help quickly and easily if you need it? Will you ever interact with a cloud access security broker? In some circumstances, the only way to receive help is to use a chat service or phone a call center. You may or may not find this acceptable. In other circumstances, you may have access to a specific resource, but time and access will almost certainly be limited. Ask questions up front about the level and kind of support you’ll get and how much it will cost.
7. Costs – There’s no disputing that pricing will factor heavily into your decision on which cloud service provider(s) to use. It’s beneficial to consider both the sticker price and the accompanying charges (including personnel you may need to hire to manage your instances). The pricing structures of the three major players are as follows:
a. Azure – Customers are billed by rounding up the amount of minutes used on demand by Azure. Azure also offers the option of making short-term commitments and receiving a discount by paying in advance.
b. AWS – The price on Amazon is calculated by rounding up the amount of hours used. One hour of use is required. There are three ways to purchase instances:
- On-Demand – Pay only for what you use, with no set-up fees.
- Reserved – You can reserve instances for one or three years at a cost dependent on use.
- Spot – Place a bid for more space that may be available.
c. Google Cloud Platform – Instances are billed by GCP by rounding up the amount of minutes used. A minimum of 10 minutes is required. In contrast to AWS’s reserved instances, Google has announced “sustained-use pricing” for cloud computing services, which is a simpler and more elastic arrangement.
What are the Key Factors between Major Cloud Providers?
Comparing cloud providers can be tough when you don’t know where to start.
We’ve already mentioned a few of the differences between AWS, Azure, and GCP (the market’s top cloud companies that lead in infrastructure-as-a-service and platform-as-a-service) – now, let’s take a closer look:
AWS has a stronghold on the market. According to a 2020 study from Synergy Research Group, Amazon currently maintains its 33 percent share of the worldwide cloud market. Amazon’s capabilities are unrivaled, as is its large toolkit that continues to increase at an exponential rate. However, its pricing structure can be confusing, and its focus on public cloud rather than hybrid or private cloud means that AWS doesn’t prioritize interoperability with your data center.
Azure is particularly notable for its strengths in SaaS. The platform is a close competitor to AWS and boasts an exceptionally capable cloud infrastructure. If you’re a business user, Azure understands your needs because few firms have the same corporate background (or Windows support) as Microsoft. Azure also recognizes that you still manage a data center, and the Azure platform makes every effort to collaborate with them; hybrid cloud is a great strength.
Google, a well-funded underdog in the fight for cloud domination, entered the cloud industry after AWS and Azure. As such, it lacks the enterprise focus that attracts corporate clients. However, GCP contains extensive technical expertise, as well as industry-leading tools in deep learning and artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data analytics.
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