INSIGHT: How to assess your next NZ cloud provider

As cloud migration escalates, it's vital that Kiwi companies first understand their specific requirements and then decide which metrics are key for their organisation.

The technology industry is New Zealand’s third largest export earner, and the fastest growing sector with the country’s hosting and infrastructure services alone worth NZ$767m in 2013.

As cloud migration escalates, it is vital that companies first understand their specific requirements and then decide which metrics are key for their organisation.

Only then, can Kiwi businesses measure each cloud vendor against their prioritised metrics.

As a result, below is a check-list of issues to understand, and enquire further:

• Understand your business’s requirements:

Cloud pricing vary greatly by features, duration and inherent complexity. This makes comparison between vendors difficult. Start by forecasting how your business will use the cloud.

Look at your computational requirements, total storage and how both could vary by time. Some vendors charge by capacity booked. Others charge by capacity used. Furthermore, this capacity could be a contracted minimum term.

Or it could be perfectly elastic – able to be switched off with a month’s notice. In this context, what are your organisation’s needs?

• Understand what data will sit in the public vs private clouds, or remain on premise:

There are performance, security and pricing implications to weigh up, around all three options. Traditionally, public clouds have been a lot slower and less secure. However, latest developments mean speed is now less of an issue.

Security is now also on par between public and private clouds. A private cloud also constrains possible growth, as both RAM and compute remain fixed resources.

• Understand your data’s sovereignty:

Where your data is stored geographically, generally subjects it to the host country’s laws / legal jurisdiction.

The exception - data residing in a US company’s data centre, located in New Zealand, remains accessible to the US Government (ostensibly for counter-terrorism, tax evasion, criminal-checking purposes).

In the context of civil litigation, your opponent’s access to your digital data depends on the host country’s applicable discovery laws. Cloud storage within New Zealand guarantees compliance with New Zealand law and regulations.

• Understand your prospective cloud’s security layers:

Software-based security features to consider include; firewalls, virus and malware scanning. Some vendors offer these as in-built, while others offer them as add-ons.

Physical security measures to check; type of access (finger-print) control, lockable server racks and remote surveillance. What are your organisation’s minimum security protocols, once data moves to the cloud?

• Understand your minimum connection speed:

As your organisation communicates with distant cloud-based servers, your connection speed is invariably a bottle-neck. Off-shore cloud vendors can appear attractive from a pricing perspective.

However, latency often is the downside. What speeds are acceptable to your organisation? And can these be achieved with your prospective cloud vendor?

• Understand your data transport costs:

Most cloud vendors attach costs to the quantity of data sent and received from their servers. This factor generally becomes greater, as physical distance increases. Hence the amount of data typically sent (not just stored) will also need to be considered.

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