We have compiled the most practical pointers from industry experts to give you a quick reference when you make that big decision
You’re convinced that the Cloud is not just hype but a practical direction for your IT. The next hurdle you have to face is who you’re entrusting your precious resource to. We have compiled the most practical pointers from industry experts to give you a quick reference when you make that big decision.
1. The Main Data Centre
Where your cloud actually lies is the most crucial factor in your decision making. For an enterprise cloud infrastructure, it has to be in a data centre that conforms the industry’s highest standard – currently the pinnacle is Tier 4. This means it is designed to host mission-critical computer systems with fully redundant subsystems and compartmentalised security zones controlled by biometric access control methods. Would you entrust your data and applications to a standard that’s not the best?
It is not enough to rely on a single data centre. No matter how top-notch it is, best practices tell us that it is wise that your provider has a back-up data centre that replicates your data from the main source. It is always better to be safe than sorry.
How do you want your system to perform? If you want the best then you are looking for a hosting centre with Tier 1 connectivity, the highest standard in internet network connectivity to date. This means the data centre’s network is one that does not rely on another supplier for its connectivity to reach any other areas of the internet. Just as important, ensure there is a multiple redundancy of critical components to increase system reliability.
4. Physical Location
With the US Patriot Act, you would be well advised to have your data and applications hosted in the UK and in a date centre owned by a UK-based company. You would also prefer it to be located outside busy London which is probably not the most secure location for hosting (historically, The City has been a favourite target for terrorists and other trouble makers).
On-premise or Cloud, the threat of cyber security looms in equal proportions. Make sure firewalls and encryption are in place on the data centres. Just as important, make sure that the physical location of your partner’s data centre is secure. The most secure data centres, usually those who are Tier 4, will have a 24 x7 secure entry via swipe card system, with 6-layer entry. Preferably, it will be located inside its own secure compound with at least 3-metre fencing and controlled entry, including anti-tailgate systems.
To enhance the resilience of your systems, make sure you and your provider monitor the data centres 24/7 using a fine tuned scheme in place. This will allow you to check event logs, CPU usage, memory usage, free disk space, SNMP, running services, Network Interface Card usage, performance counter values, POP, IMAP, and SMTP mail servers, web page content and load times and server temperature. It will also allow you to monitor network traffic so you can check your bandwidth usage at any given point in time. It will allow you to pre-empt any problems which your provider should be able to intervene.
Does the provider meet regulatory requirements? Make sure that their data centre is resilient and comply with the various global management standards. Worth noting are ISO 27001 (Information Security Management), ISO9001 (Quality Management Systems) and ISO 14001 (Environment Management System). If required, can your provider modify the offered service to comply your individual requirements?
To ensure your expectations are met, you can choose from a service-based SLA or a customer-based SLA. Before you sign the deal, check if your agreement is generic for all of your partner’s customers (former) or is it customised to your needs (latter). Whatever suits you, make sure you’re happy with the cost and support stipulated, and the flexibility of your agreement for when your requirements expand and grow in the future.
One of the major reasons you’re migrating to the cloud is the costs saved from your computing resources and IT team’s time. Find out if there is an upfront cost, upgrade costs, etc. What are the extra charges? What are the components and how are the costs calculated? The best choice would be a provider who bills you monthly, or quarterly, and only for the resources that you actually use.
10. Partner experience
Last but not the least, who do you trust? With so many cloud computing providers popping up, you want a partner with relevant experience. Ideally, it may be a provider who has naturally evolved from being a Systems Integrator simply because they will have experience of different technologies and in building various types of infrastructures, including Cloud.
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