Five Technical Considerations When Choosing a Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) Provider

A recent set of statistics published by Gartner, an IT research company, reports that $91 billion of IT budgets are allocated to cloud services. This amount is projected to increase up to $207 billion by 2016. Many businesses are switching to cloud-based services to increase flexibility, lower overhead costs, and reduce the amount of support and maintenance that IT staff has to provide.

One cloud computing option that enterprises are using, Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), uses servers, storage, networking equipment and other hardware from a cloud provider, instead of a company’s purchasing and maintaining the hardware in its physical location. Before a company decides to move to IaaS, here are five technical considerations to keep in mind:

5. Available databases can influence your decision. While you can add whatever type of database you need to your IaaS server, it’s much easier to have support already built in for your database needs. This isn’t hard if you’re using MySQL, although it’s more difficult to find a provider with native support for Oracle Database, PostgresSQL, or NoSQL.

4. Analyze your incoming and outgoing traffic before settling on a IaaS provider. Each company has its own pricing structure for scaling the resources used by the customer’s IaaS account. Avoid pricing surprises and stay within budget by having a very good idea of your technical requirements.

3. Operating system considerations go beyond picking whether you want Windows or Linux for your server environment. Several other operating systems exist in the IaaS space, such as OpenStack, an open source operating system specifically designed for the cloud, and offered by Dell. Any change in an existing operating system is going to result in sunk costs in training, changes in the applications you can use, and the adjustment time as IT works through the learning curve.

2. Pay close attention to uptime promises in the service-level agreement. IaaS often runs mission-critical processes for an enterprise, so uptime is paramount. If the IaaS provider fails at delivering on the terms of its SLA, do research on dependable companies with better records.

1. Consider combination IaaS and PaaS providers. Some providers, such as IBM SmartCloud, combine IaaS with platform as a service. This gives an enterprise a ready-made platform integrated with IaaS technology.

Final Thoughts

Also consider the maturity of the IaaS provider and their experience in offering diverse cloud platforms to both enterprise and SMB customers. Virtual Internet for instance offers both OnApp Xen and VMware flavors for discerning IT leaders. These allow a range of testing and deployment options for ISVs seeking to launch new products (or to refine and simplify their current on-premise datacentre environment).

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