How to Choose a Cloud Provider: 8 Factors to Consider

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As more organizations adopt cloud computing, there has been an increase in cloud computing service providers entering the market. As a result, it can be overwhelming to navigate through the options and figure out how to choose a cloud service provider for your business.

However, selecting the right cloud provider, as well as selecting the best website hosting, or the best CRM software, can have a significant impact on your company’s performance, security, and growth. That’s why when you select a cloud platform for your company, it’s crucial to thoroughly evaluate your needs and requirements.

You should carefully consider such factors as scalability, security, and cost. It’s also important to assess the platform’s capabilities, efficiency, and support options, as well as ensure the platform is compatible with your current systems. It’s also a good idea to take advantage of free trials to test the functionality of various platforms and determine if they’re user-friendly.

Here are some expert tips to help you determine what to consider when choosing a cloud provider so you can make the best decision for your business.

Key Takeaways

  • Selecting the right cloud provider can affect your company’s performance, security, and growth.
  • When choosing a cloud platform, it’s crucial to thoroughly evaluate your needs and requirements.
  • You should consider such factors as scalability, security, and cost.
  • AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform are three of the top cloud providers.

How to Choose a Cloud Provider: Crucial Factors to Consider

1. Identity Your IT Strategy First

In the past, organizations would select a cloud provider and build a strategy around it, said Sid Nag, Vice President in the Technology and Service Provider group at Gartner.

“However, you have to build your IT strategy first and then you identify the right cloud provider that meets your needs.

“So are you just doing infrastructure as a service, or are you doing sophisticated application modernization? Depending on what your needs are, you say, ‘OK, this particular cloud provider has the following capabilities, and I’m going to select this particular provider.’ That’s the way to think about it,” Nag told Techopedia.

2. Be Intentional About Your Decision to Use Multiple Cloud Providers

Leveraging multiple cloud providers by accident is not a recipe for success at the enterprise scale, and in some cases, having less is more, said Eric Drobisewski, senior enterprise architect at Liberty Mutual Insurance.

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It’s vital to be intentional when choosing cloud providers and to evaluate various factors to avoid unintentional complexity, such as the long-term costs to enable, manage, operate, and secure multiple cloud providers.

“While all hyperscalers provide foundational infrastructure services as a commodity, it’s important to look specifically at the best-of-breed capabilities that suit the specific needs of your organization,” Drobisewski told Techopedia. “Utilizing that information will assist in minimizing the need to use multiple cloud providers and will simplify your IT operating environment.”

3. Create Clarity In the Unique Characteristics of Your Enterprise Workloads

As you look to adopt a cloud provider, it’s important to make data-driven decisions, and that starts with building a clear understanding of the characteristics of the workloads that you are looking to build or migrate into the cloud, according to Drobisewski.

“This will allow you to be deliberate about what workloads are best suited for the cloud and have clear workload placement criteria that will position the organization for sustained success,” he said.

4. Determine the Importance of Portability to Your Organization

Portability often comes up as a driving factor when adopting a cloud provider, but it can mean different things to different stakeholders, according to Drobisewski.

“Anchoring on a clear definition and implementation of portability will ground much of the downstream technology selection decisions being made as you adopt a cloud provider,” he said. “This will help avoid the pitfalls of chasing an unachievable state of portability to avoid lock-in versus tightly coupling every technology decision to the native capabilities of the cloud provider.”

Striking the appropriate balance upfront will both simplify and accelerate cloud adoption, he noted.

5. Don’t Compromise on Security Controls and Security Requirements

Security is paramount when selecting a cloud provider, and it takes thoughtful planning to determine how they can be securely integrated into your enterprise technology ecosystem, Drobisewski said.

“Taking the necessary time upfront to plan this out and bake in the appropriate level of security control will prevent unnecessary risks to the organization and save you significant time in the long run,” he explained.

6. Assess Opportunities Jointly

Choosing a cloud provider is often choosing a long-term partner with a mutual goal of strategic benefits and business outcomes, said Brett McCoy, banking cloud leader at Deloitte Consulting.

“Both organizations should assess opportunities jointly, such as joint product development, collaboration in other parts of the cloud provider’s business, as well as long-term direction and focus,” McCoy told Techopedia.

7. Determine the Provider’s Technical Capabilities

When selecting a cloud provider, an organization must ensure that the technical capabilities of the provider can also meet its business requirements and long-term goals, McCoy said.

“As cloud has moved up the stack beyond traditional [infrastructure-as-a-services] services, a true differentiation of the cloud provider is understanding the business needs on top of the higher-level services available to achieve them,” he added.

8. Consider Finances

Choosing a cloud provider can result in a long-term collaboration that requires financial arrangements, according to McCoy.

“Thus, organizations should seek the best arrangement that fits their long-term needs, i.e., dedicated capacity arrangements, migration discounts/investments, creative data center transformation deals, etc.,” he said.

Three Top Managed Cloud Services Providers

There are numerous cloud computing options available today. Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform are three of the most prominent cloud providers in the industry.

Choosing the best cloud platform for your needs can be challenging because each one has its own set of features and benefits. You can also check out our guide to the best cloud hosting providers.

Cloud Service Providers Comparison

 

Feature

AWS Azure Google Cloud
 

Market Share

 

Leader (50.1%)

 

Second (23%)

 

Third (11%)

 

Global Reach

 

26 geographical regions and 90 zones

 

63 regions and 215 zones

 

34 regions and 103 zones

 

Service Catalog

 

200+ services

 

600+ services

 

100+ services

 

Strengths

 

Flexibility, scalability, reliability, security

Breadth and depth of service, security, integration with other Microsoft products Strong AI and machine learning, big data processing, open-source friendly
 

Weaknesses

Resource limitations, complexity, complex pricing Complexity, vendor-lock in, steep learning curve Limited toolset, pricing complexity, limited data center reach
 

Pricing

Pay-as-you-go, on-demand pricing model Pay-as-you-go, on-demand pricing model Pay-as-you-go, on-demand pricing with various use discounts
 

Free Tier

 

Yes

 

Yes

 

Yes

 

Best For

 

Startups, enterprises, public sector

Companies using Microsoft products and services, startups, enterprises, public sector Startups and scale-ups, data-driven companies, enterprises aiming to modernize, public sector

The Bottom Line

Selecting the right cloud cloud provider for your business can be challenging. Consider each platform’s capabilities, scalability, security, and cost before making your final decision.

It is also crucial to thoroughly evaluate your business needs and requirements, as the cloud platform can affect your company’s performance and future growth.

FAQs

What are the three biggest cloud provider platforms?

Why would I choose only one cloud provider?

Which is better: AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud?

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Linda Rosencrance
Technology journalist
Linda Rosencrance
Technology journalist

Linda Rosencrance is a freelance writer and editor based in the Boston area, with expertise ranging from AI and machine learning to cybersecurity and DevOps. She has been covering IT topics since 1999 as an investigative reporter working for several newspapers in the Boston metro area.  Before joining Techopedia in 2022, her articles have appeared in TechTarget, MSDynamicsworld.com, TechBeacon, IoT World Today, Computerworld, CIO magazine, and many other publications. She also writes white papers, case studies, ebooks, and blog posts for many corporate clients, interviewing key players, including CIOs, CISOs, and other C-suite execs.