Have you noticed how everyone’s suddenly talking about cloud? It seems like every supplier in town has got an opinion about it, or tells you they know how to do it. But it pays to dig a little deeper…
The fact is, lots of suppliers are new to the cloud market. They can talk the talk but they haven’t necessarily ever walked the walk. And they’re not going to tell you that for obvious reasons. The problem is, if you choose them as a supplier, you could end up being their guinea pig.
Things are a bit different at bluQube. We started working with cloud about nine years ago, when we were looking to host disaster recovery. Things were a lot simpler back then, and initially, we hosted cloud from our offices. But right from the get go we realised that cloud was the way forward, and so we took the opportunity to design the system from the ground up... but that was nearly nine years ago and we’ve moved on in leaps and bounds since then!
We looked at all the must-haves, like resilience, redundancy, performance and scalability, and developed what we think is a top notch solution, even if we do say so ourselves. Our first cloud customers migrated from our on-premise solution and went live over in 2011. They’ve never looked back, and now around half of all our customers choose cloud with us.
But enough about us...
The question is, when it comes to cloud how do you decide on the right supplier for you? Here are a few things to think about before you choose one...
1. Their customers
Always make sure to ask a potential supplier about their current clients.
Here are some handy questions:
• How many of your customers are using cloud?
•When did they migrate from on-premise?
• Even more importantly, WHY did they move to cloud?
•What business benefits do they enjoy now they’re on cloud?
You’ll begin to get a rounded picture of why the supplier created their solution, and what their journey with cloud has been like.
2. Their uptime
If a supplier has been providing cloud for a while they should be able to reel off their uptime stats and monitoring processes just like that. So ask them for their figures:
• What has your uptime been like over the past one, six and twelve months?
• How do you monitor uptime, and how do you know if there’s an issue?
• If there’s a problem, do you have a built in alert, or do you simply wait for the phone to ring?
• How many transactions were run through your cloud last month? Any supplier worth their salt should be checking transactions on an ongoing basis.
It’s also worth looking into their policy on updates. How often do they install them, and what kind of impact will it have on you? Of course, we’d all love 100% uptime - but it’s best to aim to get as close as possible. Here at bluQube, our cloud operates at 99.9% uptime, and there’s no reason to settle for anything less from whichever supplier you choose.
3. Their technology
Granted, one of the biggest advantages of cloud is that the IT is no longer your problem. It’s the supplier’s job to work it out and keep it running, so you don’t need to know the detailed technical spec. But it’s vital you check what technology the system is built on before you get going.
• Is it reliable? And is it available to all users? Does it help to keep down-time to a minimum with things like troubleshooting tools built in?
• Is it scalable? If your business grows, can you add new users or storage as and when you need them? Ask if you can test the system against potential future scenarios to test its ability to cope with change.
• Is it manageable? Is there just one utlilty to run the whole architecture or multiple? Is it straightforward to ensure it stays up and running at all times?
• Is it secure? Does it come with encryption and access controls? Are these the default settings, so users have to make a point of asking for access rather than just getting it willy nilly?
There’s one system we know where the answer is ‘YES’ to every one of those questions. Oracle. That’s why at bluQube, we’ve chosen to go with Oracle every single time.
Did you know?
19 out of the top 20 SaaS providers run their applications on top of the Oracle database...
In essence, Oracle is the favoured database of the business world, endorsed by giants such as Lloyds, LV, Vodafone and the Scottish Legal Aid Board, leaving Microsoft trailing behind as something of an amateur’s choice. Oracle does exactly what we, and our clients, need it to do, and it does it well. At the end of the day, it’s the best tool for the job and it’s what we’ve cut our teeth on.
4. Their space
If a supplier is moving your data from an on-site solution to the cloud, you’ll need to check a few things first:
•Where will the cloud effectively be living?
•Will it be held somewhere locked down and secure?
No ums, no ers, they really should be able to tell you this straight away. If not, it might be time to look elsewhere.
Bomb proof data facilities are becoming pretty standard now, so if you find a supplier offering you something less - would you feel comfortable having them host your financial data?
For example, here at bluQube our cloud data is stored in a place appropriately known as The Bunker. It’s the UK’s most secure cloud hosting facility, is completely UK-based and built originally for nuclear deterrents and radar technology.
5. Their company
Once you’ve got a supplier in mind it’s crucial you do a little bit of digging. You want to find out what their relationship with cloud and their track record really is.
• How long have you had your solution?
• When did you start developing it?
• When did you decide to invest in cloud, and WHY did you think about doing it?
• Let’s just get this straight, it wasn’t just because you wanted to get on the bandwagon was it?
You want to partner up with someone who sees a real business benefit in cloud. Someone who gets what you’re trying to do and is excited about helping you do it. Not just someone who’s simply following the latest trend.