What are the five most common challenges new cloud customers have?

Picture credit: "Clouds - Summer 2014", by "Pam Broviak", used under CC BY NC ND / Modified from original

Nigel Beighton, VP Technology, Rackspace, discusses the five most common cloud problems customers face, and how businesses can overcome these.

1.      Support

The most common cloud services complaint is the lack of support and management that comes when businesses are embarking on any level of cloud migration.

Businesses need to consider their wider approach to cloud operations first and ask themselves if they are going to run it internally, 24x7 or get someone else to do the hard work of scaling, automation controls and data recovery when needed.

Businesses that have a trained staff-base can do this internally, but many don’t so an understanding and sympathetic support layer cannot be overvalued.

When choosing a cloud provider, it’s crucial to know that the service delivered will offer scalable flexibility so that the customer can get on with their core business without worrying about day-to-day operations. A low-cost cloud infrastructure with no additional support will mean that the onus is always on the customer should they encounter any issues and this all means downtime which can impact your business.

In light of this, it is important to choose a provider that will offer you the appropriate level of managed cloud service with one-to-one, 24/7/365 support and monitoring. You should be able to work with your provider to ensure the infrastructure is able to cope with both expected and unexpected levels of traffic and, if there are issues, your provider should be accountable for any downtime under the Service Level Agreement (SLA) established.

2.      Reliability

In terms of reliability, it all comes down to picking a provider that is reputable and proven. Understanding the Service Level Agreement (SLA) is crucial as some providers guarantee a 100% network uptime rate and reimburse users for any downtime. What’s important is that users try services before they commit. That way, if there are affected components within the operation of the cloud service or a server is lost, you can rest assured that the right support will be there to manage and compensate for any issues.

3.      Performance

When considering the hosting of your website, a common problem is that many businesses focus on what they need now, rather than what they need in the future. In many instances, performance ultimately ends up being higher in the cloud because there is more available capacity and scalability. In other cases (most notably running a database server), performance may be less than on a traditional server.  It is prudent for users to benchmark their application in the cloud to determine when you’re likely to have peaks in demand and take into consideration the different hosting solutions to suit your requirements.

If performance is a major determining issue, a ‘hybrid' cloud can often be the right hosting solution, allowing the user to bring together the best of both worlds: the scalability and cost efficiencies of cloud computing and the performance of dedicated servers. A hybrid cloud solution means businesses can quickly add or ‘scale’ capacity for busy periods and reduce it when demand dies down, keeping IT costs to a minimum by only paying for the services they use. This removes the need to make large, and often risky, one-off investments, without having to compromise performance.

4.      Flexibility
 

Flexibility can be a difficult hurdle to overcome, with many customers fearing loss of control as they shy away from the risk of getting ‘locked-in’ to one single solution. Different types of clouds offer different levels of customisation and flexibility. Clouds that implement standard technology stacks and are participating in cloud standardisation efforts are the most suitable choice to enable application mobility. The uptake of open clouds has gained huge momentum and the future will very likely involve federation between public-to-public as well as public to on premise/hosted private clouds. There are lots of options out there to fit a range of needs, it’s just a case of researching and talking to providers about what they can offer.

 5.      Moving everything to the cloud

Moving everything to the cloud can be a real challenge as, while cloud is here to stay, it will not replace all traditional hosting or on-premise deployments.

Rather, it will complement them. There will always be situations where security requirements, flexibility, performance or control will preclude the cloud. Taking a strategically intelligent approach to those elements of data and processing that are best suited to traditionally hosted or on-premise servers, while also planning for hybrid connection to greater depth of cloud is the way forward.

Cloud computing has grown, developed and evolved very rapidly over the last half decade and it is widely agreed that a closed, single-source, proprietary and unsupported cloud model is not necessarily a good idea. Given the option, firms can usually see that an open, multi-protocol, standards -based managed cloud option makes a lot of sense.

Picture credit: Pam Broviak/Flickr

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