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Before you choose a cloud computing vendor: 8 questions

Kevin Fogarty | April 28, 2010
There are few ways a CIO can look better than by walking in to the CEO's office to offer a sophisticated technology service that answers a desperate business need without requiring large capital expenses or delays before implementation.

6. What criteria does the cloud provider use for success?

Most IT service contracts define service levels according to bits and bytes and feed-speeds, rather than the effect the customer hopes the service will provide, according to Vince DiMemmo, general manager of cloud and IT services at infrastructure services-provider Equinix, which provides the data-center infrastructure that supports Amazon's EC3 and other cloud and telecom services.

"Quality of experience is an industry measure of how well an application performs from the point of view of the end user," DiMemmo says. "We use it for a lot of our end-user contracts and more customers are asking for it."

7. What cloud services do they use to provide their service?

One of the infrastructure questions to answer is what data-center co-location or data-center service companies provide the infrastructure underneath the service you're buying. Cloud systems are often built on other clouds which, DiMemmo says, can be an advantage. Hiring service providers who base all or much of their infrastructure in the same set of high-performance databases can make due diligence easier for customers - because you only have one infrastructure to research, rather than a different one for each service, DiMemmo says.

8. What does the cloud provider require of you?

Cloud computing metaphors are designed to make customers feel warm and fuzzy, but those who forget their own responsibilities in a cloud-computing arrangement will never be satisfied with either the division of labor or quality of service they get, Golden says.

"The infrastructure is the provider's responsibility; the application is yours," Golden says. "If the application isn't structured so it will work effectively in a cloud environment, or the interfaces are clunky, or it's based on a database server that's on its last legs in your data center, that's not the cloud provider's problem. That's your part of the responsibility. You have to be sure you're ready to live up to your end."


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