Setting up a hybrid cloud environment is a major commitment, and choosing the right provider can make the difference between success and failure. It's not just a matter of which one has the most impressive numbers. You also need to know whether a provider will meet your business' particular needs. Detailed research is necessary, even though it can take some time.
The first consideration is what services the provider offers. You already have a good idea of what will be on the private side of the cloud (here's the difference between public, private, and hybrid cloud). The cloud provider needs to work well with the software your business currently uses on-premise. Does it have the right services and APIs, or will your private cloud need extra software to interface with it? A provider that has worked with businesses similar to yours is often the best choice.
The SLA is all-important (check out our SLA!). You have to look at not just what promises it makes, but how it backs them up. If it offers substantial compensation for falling short, that indicates it takes its commitments seriously. In addition to its promised up-time, look at what the SLA guarantees at the business application level.
If you're migrating from an entirely on-premises system to a hybrid cloud, you want the migration to happen quickly, with little or no loss of up time. Look at the migration tools which the service offers and determine how well they will work with your existing software.
You don't want to be locked in to one provider. Its services and pricing could change, it could go out of business, or a better alternative might come along. Look for a provider that offers standardized services that you can easily migrate to another vendor. Open architectures such as OpenStack are growing in popularity and help to prevent lock-in.
Moving to a hybrid cloud implies that you treat security seriously. Some of your functions just can't go out on a public cloud. It can be difficult to find out about a provider's security record, but you need to be confident it will keep your data safe. Look at the measures it takes, such as physically securing its data center and running the latest operating system versions.
Protection against physical data loss is part of the security picture. A service which keeps redundant data across geographic locations and does frequent backups provides the best protection.
The safety of the private part of your network depends on the interface between it and the public cloud. Make sure it doesn't inadvertently open a backdoor to your private data.
Performance and cost
How important is performance to your business? Getting the very fastest service may not be cost-effective. Discovering that the service is too slow is just as bad. One important factor is location. The greater the distance to the cloud data center, the more latency you have to deal with. When consistent performance is critical and latency has to be kept to an absolute minimum, a service should stay on the private cloud.
Be sure you understand the pricing model. Are you being charged for processor usage, storage, transactions, or some combination? You need to know whether your budget will be sufficient for normal usage and how sensitive the cost will be to spikes. If you can afford slower retrieval times for some of your data, you may be able to save money by using a less expensive storage option.
Some services will require high performance levels while others can get by with less. Using a mix of cloud services can get consistently quick responses where they count without running up too high a bill.
Look at the monitoring tools which the service offers. You should be able to track your costs from day to day so that you don't get taken by surprise.
The Bottom Line
Shop carefully when you're looking to set up a hybrid cloud that will boost your business's computational capacity, and be sure to talk to us.