Not all roads that lead to a cloud server are paved in gold. When making the decision to migrate in-house servers to a web hosting company which provides private or public cloud servers there are some golden rules to follow.
Rule #1: Start slowly, finish strongly
If you are currently heavily invested in onsite physical server infrastructure take small steps to test and confirm the benefits of a cloud infrastructure. Most experts agree that fringe non-mission critical applications are prime candidates for migration, especially to a public cloud consumption model. The ability to tap on-demand resources using a utility pricing model is a great way to test your apps in a cloud model before considering more drastic server consolidation that can save you further Dollars (or Pounds) in the future.
Rule #2: Customer Support is VI-TAL
If your considering a cloud model to drive your business apps or to help with server consolidation you have probably read (or experienced) some nightmare stories relating to web hosts that were unable to deliver regular, top-notch support when customers really needed it. Make sure your host offers 24/7 support, 365 days per year backed by experienced engineers.
Rule #3: Demand technical qualifications
24/7 Support mentioned in rule #2 is not enough. Good support requires good training and a company policy of fostering high standards. Probe your web host to find out what certifications and accreditations the host has obtained or is pursuing. These could include ISO 27001 and ISO 9001 certifications. If they employ VCP qualified engineers and VSP qualified staff this indicates a strong technical and engineering pedigree which backs up the VI-TAL support promise.
Rule #4: Cloud diversity
In recent whitepapers we have outlined some of the key characteristics of private and public clouds within the IaaS, PaaS and SaaS layers of cloud computing. One way to identify a cloud provider with real firepower is to find out if they offer both virtual dedicated servers (VDS) and virtual private servers (VPS). While many hosts out there tend to blur the lines that distinguish these two models as part of their marketing hype, they are not the same. Further, many hosts may offer one version, but not both. Virtual Internet offers both VDS servers (built on top of VMware software) and VPS servers utilizing Xen OnApp server technology. This diversity shows a strong cloud backbone and the ability to meet a large cross-section of customer requirements.
Rule #5: Seek maximum uptime
Make sure you choose a web host which demonstrates good uptime. If there is some Act of God and the hardware fails or goes down, make sure your host has an agreement in place to help with hardware replacement. These include processors, RAM, hard disks, power supplies, motherboards and network cards. Also inquire upon how they have set up their emergency maintenance plans that could affect the uptime of your network.
One last thing…
We could have made this a rule, but saved this as a concluding remark to drive this point home: Make sure your cloud host offers flexible and custom SLAs to complement the points above. No two customers are the same, although they may share some common challenges. A reputable web host will be willing to work with you to draft a SLA that matches your company roadmap and gives you piece of mind.