Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Criteria for Evaluating cloud computing services

Selecting a cloud computing provider is becoming increasingly complex. As cloud environments mature, many cloud providers attempt to differentiate themselves by focusing on specific aspects of their offerings, such as technology stacks or service-level agreements (SLAs). In short, not all cloud providers are created equal; choosing the best cloud provider for an application is a multidimensional problem.

At the same time, enterprises are beginning to rely on cloud providers for hosting mission-critical applications, which raises the stakes for selecting the right cloud service. So how do organizations navigate this multifarious landscape? Below you'll find a few key factors for evaluating services as well as some resources to use.

one of the main concerns for enterprises that are considering cloud computing is performance. Achieving high-speed delivery of applications in the cloud is a multifaceted challenge that requires a holistic approach and an end-to-end view of the application request-response path. Performance issues include the geographical proximity of the application and data to the end user, network performance both within the cloud and in-and-out of the cloud and I/O access speed between the compute layer and the multiple tiers of data stores

Technology stack
several cloud providers have focused their services on a particular software stack. This typically moves them from being Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) providers to the realm of Platform as a Service (PaaS). As one would expect, the different stack-specific clouds align with the most popular software stacks out there. If your application is built using one of these stacks, you may want to consider these cloud platforms. They can offer tremendous savings in terms of time and expense by shielding you from having to deal with lower level infrastructure setup and configuration. The flip side is that they often require developers to follow certain best practices in architecting and writing their apps, which creates a higher degree of vendor lock-in.

Service-level agreements and reliability
some cloud providers offer guarantees for higher levels of service as a way to separate themselves from the pack. Note that SLAs are often merely an indication of the consequences when the service fails and not the service's actual reliability. Although the SLA is a good indicator of any provider's level of commitment, knowing the real uptime levels of a particular cloud provider is a trickier proposition.

Security and compliance
Two of the biggest barriers for companies considering cloud computing continue to be security and compliance. In a recent Zenoss Inc. survey conducted during the first quarter of 2011, nearly 40% of respondents listed security when asked about their biggest concerns about cloud computing. The second most common answer was management, which received only 26.5% of the responses. The Zenoss survey is consistent with a number of other surveys related to cloud computing.

A straightforward way to compare cloud providers would appear to be cost, but it turns out to be anything but. The problem is that there is no consistency among providers in regards to the resources customers actually receive and pay for. Providers offer virtual machines (VMs) that vary widely in memory capacity, CPU clock speed and other features. Furthermore, the units that are actually provided to customers are often virtualized, creating even further confusion as to what the customer is actually getting and how it might be affected by other customers on the same cloud.

In Conclusion choosing the best cloud provider for an application is a multidimensional problem. As the number of cloud providers increases, and as many of them focus on specialized needs and use cases, more choices require more focused examinations. Fortunately, services are emerging that help compare cloud services so that customers can tell which provider is best suited.

Thank you for reading and please feel free to leave a Comment!

 All information presented here is © copyright Carkean Solutions Ltd., 2010 - Not to be used without our permission - The views expressed here are the views of an individual not the corporation

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