PART I

INTRODUCTION

Choosing the correct Cloud Service Provider (CSP) for your company requires considering a variety of security and cost concerns as well as weighing other aspects to determine the best option for your company. A basic and robust analytic framework is required for this process. Businesses have been compelled to rethink their priorities in order to maintain long-term productivity. There is no universally accepted method for evaluating cloud service providers. Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) are some of the major contenders With the emergence of cloud platforms, there are now certain specialty businesses that cut across various services. Because there are numerous alternatives, each of which differs in some manner, selecting a CSP is a time-consuming procedure. The goal for enterprises should be to select a cloud service provider who can manage the cloud and help them focus their time and attention on apps and data.

WHAT ARE CLOUD SERVICE PROVIDERS (CSP)?

A cloud service provider, or CSP, is a company that provides cloud computing components or services, such as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS), or Platform as a Service (PaaS). It can be defined statically as “any system that provides on-demand access to various computer system resources, such as data storage and computational power, without requiring the user to actively manage them.” These service providers deliver cloud-computing-based infrastructure and platform services for their clients using their own data centers and resources. Various pay-as-you-go subscription models are commonly used to price cloud services. Organizations are charged for the resources they consume, such as the length of time a service is used, storage space, or virtual machines (VM). Service providers can either host and supply their own managed services to users or host an independent software vendor’s application as a third-party.

CSP’s efficiency and cost-effectiveness are two of its greatest benefits. Instead of people and enterprises constructing their own infrastructure to support internal services and applications, organizations can purchase services from the CSP.

WHY DO YOU NEED A CLOUD SERVICE PROVIDER?

For a variety of reasons, organizations are migrating their services and infrastructure to the cloud. CSPs enable enterprises to reduce the expense of maintaining their infrastructure while also assisting in the management of the organization’s other services. This helps to reduce the amount of people and other resources needed to build a secure and healthy infrastructure. These companies also provide quick and easy application and service deployment, as well as rapid marketing services and maybe stronger compliance with industry norms and standards.

  • You can receive services from a cloud provider that will assist you in accessing computing services that you would otherwise have to construct yourself, such as Infrastructure, which includes networks, database services, data management, data storage, servers, and virtualization.
  • Platforms, which include the tools and space needed to create and distribute applications.
  • Independent service providers’ software that includes ready-to-use custom or standard apps.

Another benefit of cloud computing is that it can be utilized for disaster recovery. If an on-premises data center has any disruptions, the cloud can operate as a backup solution for the on-premises services and infrastructure.

WHAT ARE THE FACTORS THAT WILL HELP YOU IN CHOOSING THE BEST FIT CSP FOR YOUR BUSINESS?

1. Does the provider comply with the certificates and standards?

When choosing a cloud service provider, it’s usually a good idea to look at their current best practices and technological knowledge. Finding out what certifications they have and how often they renew them is one of the greatest ways to analyze this. This not only reflects their expertise and understanding but also how they adhere to industry norms. These criteria may not determine which service provider you choose, but they can help you narrow down your options.

There are a variety of standards and certifications available for service providers, and they are highly dependent on the companies, level of security, third-parties with whom the vendor works, and a variety of other criteria. The DMTF, ETSI, ISO, Open Grid Forum, GICTV, SNIA, Open Cloud Consortium, Cloud Standards Customer Council, NLST, OASIS, IEEE, and IETF are some of the most well-known standards. You’ll need to look at their structured processes, solid knowledge management, good data control, and insight into service status. It’s also crucial to know how the providers intend to resource and support the standards’ continued observance.

2. Does your CSP have container capabilities?

If your company wants to move its virtual server workloads to containers, managed containers, container orchestration, or any other serverless architecture, you’ll need to assess and verify the Cloud Service Provider’s container capability, as well as their container management, operations, and deployment offerings. A number of large vendors provide migration services and assistance for container management, deployment, and operations, all of which have significant benefits.

  • Microsoft Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) and Serverless Application Platform: On Azure, Microsoft offers a fully managed container orchestration platform as well as serverless development.
  • Google Kubernetes Engine  (GKE) and Serverless Computing: Google provides platforms that are similar to Microsoft’s, with the exception that Kubernetes was created by Google before being taken over by the Open Source Cloud Native Foundation.
  • Amazon Elastic Container (ECS) and AWS Lambda: CS Container Orchestration supports both Docker and Kubernetes, and Lambda is a serverless computing platform.

3. Do they follow Cloud security measures?

It is vital to consider data security when dealing with the organization’s critical data. You should check to see if the provider has a comprehensive strategy in order to protect your data in the cloud. You need to know what the goals are, what security measures each provider offers, and what techniques they employ to keep data and applications safe. It’s also crucial to check whether the providers’ security controls are in line with your own policies and processes. Examine the provider’s internal security audit reports, as well as incident reports and evidence of previously taken corrective actions.

4. Do the provider’s platform and technology align with your current cloud objectives?

When shopping for a cloud service provider, be sure their platform and technologies are compatible with your current environment and cloud goals. Ensure that the cloud architectures, standards, and services offered by the provider are compatible with the company’s workflow and management requirements. The CSPs can provide full migration services as well as aid in evaluating your decisions and strategies. Get a good knowledge of the support and services that are available, and then map it to the project’s goals. Sometimes, CSPs provide limited help, requiring you to seek further assistance from third-party platforms or suppliers. Consult the providers for information on third-party providers who are skilled and informed about the platform in question.

5. How can you incorporate the provider’s architecture for now and in the future?

When selecting a cloud provider, one factor to examine is if the service’s architecture is compatible with your workflow both today and in the future. If your company is highly committed in the Microsoft world, Azure is a good option because you’ll obtain a license and possibly some free credits. If your company relies heavily on Amazon or Google services, it’s a good idea to investigate those vendors for easy integration and consolidation.

When making your decision, you should also consider cloud storage architectures. When it comes to storage, the three providers mentioned above have similar structures and many types of storage to meet your various demands. The main difference is that they all offer various archival storage options. You’ll need to be able to tell the difference between them. All of the services include alternatives for keeping and retrieving data on a regular or infrequent basis, i.e. hot and cool storage, with the latter costing less and having fewer constraints.

6. Does the provider’s roadmap of service development fit your needs in the long term process?

Another thing to examine when selecting a CSP is their service development strategy; how do they expect to innovate and grow over time, and does their roadmap align with your long-term requirements? It’s also important to think about their dedication to specific technologies or vendors, and how they’ll support your platform. You can request that they show deployments that are similar to the ones you are planning. A SaaS provider with a wide range of appealing features, services, and integration options. Depending on your cloud approach, you’ll need to assess the provider’s complete service offering. You can employ a variety of services from a variety of providers, or you can stick to a few main cloud service providers. It is also critical that these providers give you a diverse range of services that are compatible.

7. Will the provider’s pricing structure match with your business?

The majority of CSPs provide services in a variety of price levels. You must guarantee that the service pricing and variable consumption model are appropriate for your company’s needs. Although a CSP may provide services at a reasonable cost, this may not be the best option for your company. It’s also important to keep in mind that a pricey service package might not cover all of your company’s needs. The most important thing to remember is that the programs you select should be adaptable to your company’s needs. If you are not satisfied with the services provided, you should examine the provider’s refund policy or free trial offers. This will allow you to quickly opt out of the services without committing to anything.

8. Does the provider have a strong vendor relationship?

The service providers have relations with a variety of vendors, therefore evaluating their relationships with the most important vendors, as well as their accreditation levels, technical capabilities, and personnel qualifications, is critical for the company. Check to see if they can aid in multi-vendor environments and if they can deliver greater features. Check whether there are any existing integrations with finance and marketing services if your company chooses a SaaS CRM. If you’re considering PaaS, search for a marketplace where you can purchase pre-configured complementary services that will allow you to integrate efficiently on the same platform.

9. Does the provider have formal and comprehensive Cloud SLAs?

You’ll need a formal agreement to back you up if something goes wrong while picking a CSP. Cloud Service Level Agreements can provide this form of security by establishing a clear and explicit contractual agreement between you and your CSP. The Cloud Service Level Agreements (SLAs) will ensure availability, capacity, response time, and support. It’s also important to make sure the provider has a high uptime so you can access the business processes at any time. The Cloud SLAs will help you learn about the legal standards for the security of data stored on the cloud platform. The provider should be able to supply you with a basic level of service that fits your needs.

10. Is your provider involved with any service dependencies and subcontractors?

For hardware and services, service providers frequently retain relationships with a variety of vendors. It’s critical to verify the provider’s vendor relationships and assess how each will affect your company’s cloud and data server experience. It’s also crucial to think about their levels of certification and technical talents. You must determine whether these vendors’ offerings fit into a larger ecosystem of other services that may be supportive. Some of these vendors may find it easier to integrate with cloud services such as IaaS, SaaS, and PaaS. Some overlap or pre-configured services may be beneficial to your company.

11. Is the provider offering a vendor-agnostic feature with no lock-in?

For businesses switching to the cloud, avoiding vendor lock-in is crucial. Migrating to the cloud has numerous advantages for your business, including enhanced agility, flexibility, and cost savings. Three questions arise when it comes to vendor lock-in: 

  • What if the CSP services don’t satisfy your company’s needs?
  • What if the CSP makes a significant modification that interferes with your operations?
  • What will happen if the CSP ceases operations?

Almost all cloud migration decisions go easily, but if a problem arises, switching to a different cloud vendor can be pricey, and there’s a risk of generating technical mistakes. Working with a single cloud provider exposes you to four major lock-in risks: data transfer risk, application transfer risk, infrastructure transfer risk, and human resource transfer risk. When your application and data are hosted by the same CSP, there’s a potential that problems can occur. To avoid cloud vendor lock-in, you should conduct extensive due research on possible cloud providers. Plan for an early exit, create a loosely linked application, optimize your data, explore a multi-cloud strategy, and finally use Devops tools. Consider this CSP feature when deciding which one to use.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Choosing a CSP for your company is a difficult decision to make. The information shown above may not be sufficient to assist you in selecting the best one for your company. Choosing a supplier is a need, not a choice. A firm can quickly find the perfect answer for a service provider by using the right strategy and talking points. The cloud provider must deliver high-quality services at a reasonable cost. One of the most crucial things to think about is the provider’s SLA. With the correct key, you’ll be able to identify the features and resources that best suit and support your ongoing business while also ensuring operational, security, and compliance objectives.

About the Author

what is a csp, CLOUDCONTROL

Dr. Anil Kumar

VP Engineering, Cloud Control
Founder | Architect | Consultant | Mentor | Advisor | Faculty

Solution Architect and IT Consultant with more than 25 years of IT Experience. Served in various roles with both national and international institutions. Expertise in working with both legacy and advanced technology stacks and business domains.