Today's innovative 'new service providers' (NSPs) are bringing to market an explosion of new services combining cloud and network. Recent moves by business giants HP, Oracle and IBM demonstrate that they too are trying to transform themselves into cloud providers using the full suite of technology that they have developed over the decades.
With such a bewildering array of choices, how can you pick the NSP who's right for you? What criteria do CIOs need to consider if their organisation is in the market for cloud services and would like to engage the services of these NSP's?
1. Assess what you really need to grow: Examine the current business and technology needs of your organisation, and determine what type of cloud and network services will best support a successful growth strategy. Different NSPs will have different areas of strength, whether a rich fibre network, extensive data centre footprint, unique network services or vertical industry specialisation. You need to assess your growth needs and identify the best fit among NSPs to support this growth.
2. Select a service provider that can grow with you: It is important to select an NSP with a built-in migration path so that you can easily move from a colocation infrastructure to a high speed internal cross connect to cloud resources as your organisation grows. At the same time, the NSP should be able to allow you to keep key database applications on internal servers in a small, economical on-premise space for closer scrutiny of performance and security. Also make sure that the NSP can offer dynamic bandwidth services along with dynamic hosting and storage services for greater flexibility and performance when moving into and out of the cloud.
3. Saas to IaaS: As your business grows, it is very likely that you will need to start putting the cloud to more sophisticated use, for example by moving applications to the cloud under Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) or using the cloud for Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS).
When adding IaaS services, a standard Internet connection may need to be augmented to handle the substantial amounts of information in storage and virtual machines that will be transferred between data centres or between users and the data centres forming the cloud.
In this environment, the supporting network must certainly be based on high performance fibre-based infrastructure, leverage a Layer 1 (optical) direct connect network or a Layer 2 (Ethernet) network - or both - that offers high scalability and predictable "performance-on-demand". Overarching the network resources, orchestration software can help control and unify data centre resources for managing peak workloads, or for supporting other off-premise processing outside of the data centre. This allows you as the cloud customer to manage costs, leveraging a model for a baseline investment for nominal networking needs, and pay-per-use for bandwidth spikes.
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