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5 signs your cloud service provider can't handle tier 1 apps

Thor Olavsrud | Aug. 27, 2012
Migrating mission-critical applications to the cloud is fundamentally different from migrating less critical applications and processes to the cloud. Picking the right cloud hosting provider is among the most important decisions you'll make when planning the migration of your Tier 1 applications. After all, cloud providers that typically focus on developer services can quickly find themselves out of their depth when dealing with production applications.

Does the provider have a documented change management process that is well understood and adhered to throughout the entire organization? "In a cloud environment, change is inevitable," McLellan says. "If they don't have a change management process that's mature, you can get into a lot of trouble."

Does the provider understand the importance of runbooks, and can they show you examples of runbooks they use today for other customers? Runbooks are a compilation of procedures and operations you expect the hoster to perform. "You need to be very clear on what the role of each party is for each task in the runbook," McLellan says. "The reality is that the large majority of cloud hosters today don't do that because they cater to non-mission-critical workloads where that stuff typically doesn't get documented."

Does the cloud provider offer an SLA for each product it providesmanaged firewall, storage, cloud, etc. or does it offer a single SLA at the application layer? If the host provides SLAs for each product, it becomes difficult for you to appreciate the risk of those SLAs because any individual device can fail at any particular time and trigger one of the SLAs, but the failure of any one of those devices could bring down your entire application. "I believe you should have an SLA at the application layer itself," McLellan says. "Is the application available for its intended users or not? If the host you're working with is not prepared to provide you with an SLA that's easy to understand, it's time to look for a new cloud hoster."

Does the cloud provider offer access to complementary services like patch management, application performance monitoring and so on? "If I'm going to move a mission-critical application to the cloud, I can't just migrate it and hope for the best," McLellan says. "If you're the CIO of a mid-size enterprise with a mission-critical application, you are very concerned with the performance metrics of that application. If the cloud provider doesn't have those tools, you aren't really getting much because you still need to buy those tools. And they can be very expensive tools."



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