Today, more organizations are adopting the public cloud. The motivations behind this trend are twofold:
- To fully embrace digital transformation.
- To capitalize on the bottom-line benefits the public cloud offers—such as reduced costs, unlimited storage, flexibility and other services through a pay-as-you-go model.
Still, before you make the move to a public cloud solution, you should ask potential cloud providers plenty of questions. (Also read: 5 Questions Businesses Should Ask Their Cloud Provider.)
Here are five initial questions you should consider:
1. Can You Afford Business-Critical App Downtime?
One of the main disadvantages of the public cloud is application downtime.
That’s because you have to access the cloud via the public internet, whose service levels can be unpredictable. For contrast, an on-premise private cloud implementation would not have that problem. (Also read: Public Cloud vs. Private Cloud: How to Choose.)
Downtime can be an issue for every business. But downtime can be devastating and expensive for organizations that, for example, depend on their networks and systems to be up and accessible 24/7 to complete financial trades or deliver critical healthcare services.
Downtime costs enterprises more than ever, as 44% of enterprises indicate hourly downtime costs exceed $1 million and sometimes climb to over $5 million—and that’s not including legal fees, fines or penalties, according to ITIC’s 2020 Hourly Cost of Downtime Survey.
Organizations should be sure to negotiate their service-level agreements (agreements between customers and the cloud service providers ensuring the provider maintains a minimum level of service) to make sure they meet the organization’s current needs and consider their future requirements.
2. Can the Cloud Provider Guarantee Your App’s Performance?
By using an instance of software in a shared environment, you can potentially save some money. But it could cost you in performance.
Because cloud providers own and manage the public cloud, there’s no way for you to know how the vendor’s other clients are using it. For example, one customer using an excessive amount of computing power will likely slow down performance for the provider’s other customers.
However, well-established enterprise cloud providers can typically manage this issue. Since they focus exclusively on cloud services, they are generally able to respond more quickly to technical problems and more effectively allocate their resources to correct them, which means their customers benefit from improved scalability and agility. (Also read: 10 Myths About Multi-Cloud Data Management.)
3. Are You Ready for Cloud Costs?
Companies moving to the public cloud will save money upfront because they don’t have to purchase servers, locate space for their data centers or maintain all the related network infrastructure. And if they need additional computing resources, all they have to do is let their service providers know and those resources will be forthcoming.
Plus, although pay-as-you-go pricing—being billed only for the resources you use—is one of the main public cloud benefits, surprise costs can turn your dream of a great public cloud experience into a nightmare.
That’s because higher data usage results in higher fees—a fact organizations may not consider when they decide to migrate to the public cloud. While the pay-as-you-go model is convenient, it can be expensive if you don’t monitor your data usage.
In addition, your public cloud provider will charge you egress fees, which are fees for moving your data from the cloud (e.g., from cloud-based storage to on-premises storage), or for allowing your clients to pull down data. These fees likely won’t break your company’s budget—but you should still be aware of them. (Also read: How to Calculate Cloud Computing Costs.)
4. Can the Cloud Meet Your Compliance Requirements?
Any company that retains consumers’ data is responsible for data protection.
There are both state and federal standards regulating how this information is handled. We continue to hear stories of companies whose websites have been hacked, breaching millions of people’s privacy. Government and oversight organizations work to tighten control to ensure security and prevent hacking. (Also read: Data Breach Notification: The Legal and Regulatory Environment.)
In the public cloud model, the cloud provider is responsible for the keeping the hardware and software, which acts as the cloud’s operating system, secure. It’s the customers’ responsibility to ensure the security of their workloads and their data in the cloud. In terms of compliance, the cloud provider guarantees that the underlying infrastructure meets the standards of the various regulatory agencies.
Organizations using the public cloud should be concerned about cloud compliance. The financial and healthcare industries are particularly vulnerable; and there are stringent laws and guidelines in place to address outside threats. Even small companies that handle sensitive material may be subject to considerable oversight depending on the nature of the data they store, receive or transmit.
5. Is the Public Cloud the Right Business Decision for You?
Using the public cloud is not without risks. Sure, you may save money—but is it worth the cost in possible downtime or performance degradation?
Public cloud may be the right choice for you if you can manage the costs and factor in the potential unreliability. But you should think long and hard about it and consider other options.
With a private cloud solution, for example, you have full control of your infrastructure. You can better secure your systems, you can ensure reliability and you’re not sharing it with anyone. (Also read: How is a private cloud platform different from a public cloud platform?)
The benefits of cloud computing are clear; but it’s best not to rush into a public cloud solution.
Whatever your decision, consider all possible solutions before taking action. Keep asking questions and don’t stop investigating until you find the solution that is right for your organization.
Sound research and planning will benefit you in the end.