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Cloud computing, with its lower costs and increased flexibility, seems like a no-brainer -- until you start scrutinizing the many products and services available in the market today.
There are so many choices that it’s easy to become paralyzed, especially when every tech company under the sun is rebranding itself as a “cloud provider.” Behavioral economists call this paralysis the paradox of choice. Too much of a good thing can end up being just too much.
However, with a little advanced research and with a clear understanding going in of what features you need and what your top priorities are, the choices should be much more manageable. I polled a group of 50+ purchasers of cloud products and services, asking them what the deciding factors were as they selected cloud solutions. Here are five of the most common and most important questions they asked before purchasing cloud solutions.
Security is consistently cited as the biggest concern enterprises have about cloud computing. Reports from hosting.com, IBM and the IT Governance Institute all illustrate how widespread cloud security fears are.
Responding to customer security concerns, hosting provider Carpathia sought a solution that would allow them to layer on-demand security onto their cloud offerings. The key was finding something that would assuage customers worries over a critical cloud drawback (well, a drawback from a security standpoint): multi-tenancy.
The company turned to Vyatta and its Network OS solution to address this problem. “Vyatta allows us to have basic policies at the front of our clouds – within each customer’s instantiation of their cloud environment they can deploy one or many Vyatta instances, giving them very fine-grain controls over everything from the traffic flow, to the firewall, to inspecting traffic with IPS,” said Jon Greaves, CTO of Carpathia.
Another big security issue is the headache of managing and administering an array of security devices. Many have sought out on-demand cloud security services to help alleviate these burdens. B&H Photo and AHIMA both turned to Symantec.cloud to handle email anti-virus and anti-spam. Before adopting a cloud-based service, both companies spent hours and hours each week responding to end-user problems and hunting for suspicious files.
Now, IT is able to move its focus away from email to other tasks. Moreover, the companies are now protected from zero-day attacks, since security delivered as a service removes the need to manually update new signatures and patches.
Many of the most interesting cloud offerings come from startups and relative unknowns, so it’s important to do a little due diligence to determine whether or not the company will be around in a few years to keep delivering on its promises.
VAR MuniMetriX sought a cloud-based document management system, which would help them reposition themselves as a provider of cloud-based Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solutions. “With a cloud-based system, we would no longer be selling big-ticket items. Ongoing, predictable monthly revenue would be critical, and, of course, we needed to be sure we were working with a stable, viable partner. We couldn’t risk betting on a company that might be sold in the next six months, leaving us out in the cold,” said Bruce Rector, President of MuniMetriX.
The company selected the cloud-based ECM solution from Digitech Systems. Once MuniMetriX felt comfortable with the stability of Digitech Systems, the comfort level allowed them to drastically reshape their business.
“Almost 100 percent of our growth in the past few years is based on our cloud offerings,” Rector said. “We’ve gained about 400 new customers, and because we’re no longer responsible for integrating these solutions for desktop or server-based use, we don’t have to struggle with various operating systems and other interoperability issues. This, in turn, has greatly streamlined our sales cycle.”
If MuniMetriX hadn’t trusted the future of Digitech, they probably would have acted cautiously and risked being left behind as more aggressive competitors grabbed customers away from them.