The first three articles in this series covered financial considerations, marketing as well as what channel partners should consider when selling cloud solutions. Part four of the series will take a look at the recommended technical strategy to maximize the business investment.
The IT and software reliability of a solution provider’s cloud infrastructure is a key differentiator in the cloud space. In order to offer an array of cloud-based services to end customers, a provider must have access to a broad portfolio and proven expertise managing critical solutions. A strong technical strategy is key, because mistakes affect performance, security and create an inability to deliver, which ultimately impacts customer satisfaction and confidence.
Choosing a public versus private cloud platform depends on the type of workload required. A public cloud is a third party cloud service built and managed on an external platform and is based on a shared, "multi-tenant" infrastructure. Public clouds are a cost effective option for many solutions, but one must understand the limitations as a generalized offering.
- Engineered for the masses
- Uses commodity servers and infrastructure
- Highly standardized offering with limited customization
- Recommended for low-impact business solutions where data confidentiality is not a concern
A private cloud can be built and managed on an external platform similar to the public cloud, but offers more flexibility and customization to meet the business needs of each individual organization. With a "single-tenant" private cloud model, companies benefit from common resources and data centers, but have their own computing pod, servers, and settings. Customers benefit from system and data isolation, and the freedom to design their solutions as they choose to meet specific requirements, including, business continuity, security and regulatory compliance. In addition, a private cloud is easy to integrate with on premise or other cloud offerings. . Other benefits include:
- Engineered to meet unique needs
- No shared servers or log-in instances
- Customizable to meet even the most aggressive security and compliance requirements
Choosing the right cloud model goes back to choosing what’s right for the application and the end customer’s situation. A platform decision should be based on metrics such as:
- Performance needs
- Availability Requirements (and SLA’s)
- Disaster Recovery and/or Prevention
- Business Continuity
- Ease of integration, personalized support, It’s our cloud we make the rules, etc…
Robust technology and strict adherence to protocol ensures customer satisfaction
Solution providers should be looking to offer customers more agility and flexibility with their own business model offering. Through working with a cloud partner like Concerto Cloud, who can rapidly offer prebuilt packaged industry capabilities or newly architected solutions, a solution provider has the ability to meet their customers' requirements by deploying solutions quicker, with greater horsepower, performance and customization, delivering results right away.
"A single instance and private model delivers a stronger ability to handle complex integrations and workloads, sensitive and financial data, governance and regulatory compliances," said Pete Schmied, Senior Director of Concerto Operations. "And when you compare that against a public cloud offering, your customers will see that the transition to the cloud in a private model is far less painful because it's easier to make the environment adhere to specific business needs as well as its processes and practices."
Many businesses have strict protocols or regulatory requirements that must be managed and maintained.
Data storage and how it is secured is also a consideration. How many layers of security are offered and how will it be monitored? Understanding and upholding those elements as they relate to the company's current processes and practices are a lot more transparent in a private environment than public. When a business chooses a public cloud model, it it is limited to a standardized offering intended for many customers. On the private side, it can be customized to fit each customer's specific business goals and IT requirements.
Schmeid added, "Making sure you choose a cloud partner with the right expertise is key – there are a lot of differences in a provider's operational practices, security posture, platform architecture and how they go about managing those requirements. Our Concerto team is driven by quality and protocol. As an example, we maintain a minimum of five plus layers of security that is monitored 24x7x365 by a committee that follows the ITIL, a strict industry methodology of best practice for IT Service Management. Our experience in delivering complex business critical cloud solutions has given us the knowledge to implement the right protocols, which in turn enables us to deliver what is right for solution providers and ultimately, their customers."
No IT department wants to launch a cloud migration project without feeling confident that it can deliver a smooth transition. The complexity of onboarding is part of why businesses are hesitant to deploy cloud projects. Experienced cloud solution providers know just what resources they have at their disposal that can be leveraged to support solution providers and their customers. This includes other management considerations such as incident escalation and resolution and overall ongoing customer support – all things that should be top-of-mind when designing a cloud roadmap.
"A lot is riding on getting the migration right and successful onboarding is all about careful planning and preparation up front," said Pete. "It is so important to stand up the required infrastructure. It's not just 'flipping a switch' and everything runs smoothly, which is why we invest a lot of time on the onboarding process. We want to ensure that our partners' customers have a successful transformation and are happy with not only their cloud environment but also the experience."
Being prepared for the unexpected and being able to react to your customer in an agile manner is key to a successful cloud model. Solution providers should include these steps to ensure onboarding success:
- Define workload
- Provision cloud resources
- Establish a connectivity bridge
- Deploy workload
- Ensure two-way access
- Test and validate
- Discontinue old service
The ability to focus on the core business
Employing internal resources to manage a customer's technical environment can be tricky. Many solution providers have one environment/data center that they rely on for their customers – and if something goes wrong, service to customers is disrupted. With 90 percent of all disruptions linked to human error, it is important to partner with an experienced service delivery team that can manage the process and ensure the guaranteed uptime.
With a multiple data center environment, the primary center is duplicated, minimizing risk of downtime and loss of critical data. Concerto's standard recovery time (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO) is eight hours and four hours respectively – meaning, if a customer's environment is down, it will be back up and running within eight hours with the maximum data lost being one second, to at most, four hours. However, for customers who require more aggressive RTO and RPO operatives, Concerto offers multiple options for these operatives – as low as a 2 hour RTO and 15 minute RPO.
Schmied added, "We know it can be expensive to recover from a failure and that is why Concerto focuses on preventative measures. When IT operations are managed in house, those internal resources are under a lot of pressure with limited time to test procedures end-to-end. With an outside team in place whose primary focus is secure, highly available business critical operations, we do the work and minimize disruption."
Migrating to a cloud environment requires experience and a significant investment in technology. The chosen cloud partner should have deep cloud computing expertise in creating the right IT solutions designed specifically for the solution provider’s end customers. The cloud partner should also have established processes and procedures that simplify and virtually eliminate risks associated with the migration. Choosing a well-established partner will also offer the solution provider access to ongoing resources across the organization, sharpening decision-making and streamlining processes – key to a successful cloud transformation.
Read the rest of the posts in this series: