This content is part of the Essential Guide: Consumption-based, pay-for-what-you-use IT as a service

What to consider when selecting an IaaS provider

A good IaaS should act like a partner, tailored to your infrastructure. Keep these criteria in mind when selecting a provider for your organization's IaaS.

Technical expertise is table stakes when it comes to evaluating IaaS providers. To ensure you find the right fit for your business, evaluate various IaaS providers and dig under the surface of potential partners who might meet your needs.

With no shortage of hosting providers available, selecting an ideal IT partner can be challenging. Help your search go smoothly by identifying specific criteria you must evaluate in a potential IaaS provider.

Public cloud vs. local infrastructure

You must decide first whether to buy infrastructure versus consume it as a service. You've probably heard the myth year-over-year that 90% of workloads are hosted in the cloud, but the reality is they aren't. Moving the backbone of your entire organization to a cloud model is not as easy as headlines make it seem and creates potential issues in the process.

On one hand, purchasing IT infrastructure gives your team the ability to protect sensitive information and meet regulatory needs with complete control over the hardware it lives on. It also keeps with your finance department's traditional cost model. For some organizations, owning infrastructure is a must. You manage the total cost of ownership and have the ability to customize any solution. On the other hand, the upfront cost and the process of predicting what future resources you might require can be major deterrents. Between time, personnel and unknown or anticipated growth, maintaining your own infrastructure can rapidly change and demand more effort than anticipated.

McKinsey's 2018 "IT as a Service (ITaaS) Survey" reported a 65/35 split between private workloads and public workloads. This trend continues to shift the balance from building to consuming IT. Furthermore, 40% of companies use two or more IaaS and SaaS providers, narrowing the gap.

IaaS models' predictable payments provide agility and flexibility to grow or shrink as needed. In-house IT teams can determine the right mix of on-premises and cloud infrastructure for their businesses. No one-size-fits-all solution exists, but with due diligence and proactive planning, you can make an informed decision for your team and company.

When pursuing a combination of on-premises and cloud solutions, IaaS stands as an efficient option to lower the barrier to entry for the cloud. IaaS reduces the large upfront payment on hardware which may or may not be the correct infrastructure several years from now. IaaS is specifically tailored to the applications you use and it instantly frees up in-house resources by putting the burden of daily maintenance and upgrades on your IaaS provider instead of on your internal resources. Choosing IaaS has many advantages in itself, as long as the partner you work with is an expert.

Non-negotiable capabilities when selecting an IaaS provider

Keep these seven criteria in mind when starting your search for an IaaS vendor:

  1. Customizable solutions and data portability. Does this vendor specialize in only one solution, or can they recommend a strategy that includes private, public and hybrid cloud to meet your needs on multiple platforms? Ensure your potential partner can customize solutions to deliver data in whatever form you need. Also, research the Egress fees and what ability you have to control those costs.
  2. A well-defined process for infrastructure migration. Ensure your IaaS provider has a proven history of migration success following a transparent process. Vendors are used to explaining their process, so be sure to ask about it during your discussion.
  3. Detailed support levels in service-level agreements (SLAs). Cloud providers base their reputation on maintaining business continuity, so they often enhance their support to stay competitive. An ideal IaaS provider outlines 24/7/365 support with on-call service from qualified technologists in their SLAs.
  4. Top-tier security and experience meeting regulatory requirements. Escalating cybersecurity threats means security should be a priority for IaaS providers. Be upfront about your data protection needs, and any quality IaaS provider should readily explain how their technology defends against cyber attacks. If you have compliance or industry requirements, make sure that they have expertise with those too.
  5. Data center expertise with the ability to advise on both on-premises and cloud solutions. The growing importance of cloud means any IaaS provider you choose must be able to advise on both on-premises and cloud solutions. This hybrid model ensures your infrastructure provides an ROI while maintaining business continuity.
  6. Brand-name technology with trials before committing. Even though the differences between offerings might not be obvious at first, it's important to make sure partners use reputable commercial names for their underlying technology. This includes brands such as HPE, Nutanix or Aruba because they've proven the effectiveness of their technology. In addition, ask for a proof of concept. If a potential partner can't provide a proof-of-concept environment, they might not be able to support you in the way you'd like.
  7. Unbiased approach to recommendations. It's essential to work with a vendor who's technology agnostic. Unbiased consultants can recommend strategic options for your needs, rather than the solution they're required to push. Ask questions such as, "Which companies do you have partnerships with?" and "Are you able to advise on competing solutions?"

Having candid conversations that address the above criteria can help you quickly identify winners and losers in your search for an IaaS provider. Your IaaS vendor should serve as a true partner, able to provide technology advice and a comprehensive strategy specific to your business goals.

Hannah ConeyHannah Coney

About Hannah Coney

Hannah Coney leads ComportSecure's suite of cloud-based solutions. Her expertise in BaaS, DRaaS, IaaS and managed IT services helps customers navigate the transition to the cloud and optimize IT environments.

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