Cloud & Data Center

5 Components to Consider Before Choosing a Cloud Provider

By TMCnet Special Guest
Matt Jackels
  |  November 04, 2013

Today, organizations and employees are being asked to do more with little or no increase in material or human resources. Factor in demands for greater efficiency, expense reduction or just keeping up with new communication channels, and you’ve begun to overwhelm an organization’s ability to meet the demands of the business and its customers. This is where offloading these demands to the cloud makes sense.       

Companies are now being besieged by new vendors and service delivery models promising the delivery of a wide array of solutions and services. When investigating a migration of critical customer-facing applications to the cloud, organizations need to thoroughly investigate vendors and delivery models to ensure business operations are not disrupted and that benefits touted are real. 

Special focus should be given to the following components of a hosted solution to ensure you’re making the appropriate decision for your business.


1.) Security Measures to Employ

Security is perhaps the greatest concern when considering a move to the cloud. Security requirements vary by industry, so a thorough understanding of a vendor’s security solutions is critical. Naturally, all vendors will tout their cloud security, but the ability for vendors to provide end-to-end security is in part predicated on a vendor’s architecture and delivery model. Vendors that utilize a multi-tenant, or shared infrastructure, and/or the Internet as a transport model typically have more potential for security violations than vendors that offer dedicated private cloud and private network solutions. Insist on reviewing service provider security            certifications such as SOX, SSAE-16 and PCI (News - Alert) compliance as well as any independent audit reports. The recommendation is to use caution and demand the most secured solutions available.  

2.) Service Reliability

The migration of business-critical applications to the cloud requires business-class service reliability. The vendor selection process shouldn’t only include service availability of the core applications, but also the quality of the service. Service providers need to have the appropriate data replication processes in place, as well as geographic core redundancy for application failover, but should also employ service level agreements on the quality of the service. Attaching SLAs to the quality of the service will typically require a managed network environment to ensure quality of service for IP voice applications, as well as other speed-sensitive applications, such as CTI (News - Alert) screen pops. 

3.) Day 2 Managed Services

In addition to service reliability, Day 2 Managed Services are one of the most critical elements of the vendor selection process. There are numerous viable solutions available today, and what happens once you’ve migrated from implementation into a normal production mode validates the business decision to migrate to a cloud-based solution. Vendor Day 2 Managed Services also needs to be governed by SLAs to ensure that vendors are delivering in a timely manner. Your service level agreements should be negotiable to meet unique business requirements. As you enter into a day-to-day production cloud environment, Day 2 Managed Services becomes one of the most critical and impressive components of cloud solution service delivery.                

4.) Control: Give a Little, Get a Lot

Moving to cloud-based services means sacrificing a degree of control – a difficult thing for organizations to relinquish. Your cloud service provider not only needs to provide the ability to customize your Day 2 Managed Services support of your solution, but the degree of control and visibility of your solution platform is critical as well. As part of the evaluation process in selecting a cloud service provider, you need to understand what the vendor’s maintenance windows and platform upgrade policies are, and the potential impact on service delivery and back-end integrations. Additionally, service providers need to provide their customers the data necessary to manage, make sound business decisions and understand the effectiveness of customer care strategies and initiatives.               

5.) Business Experts and Application of Solutions

Migrating to cloud-based services provides businesses the opportunity to re-evaluate their current customer care strategies, and gives you the opportunity to introduce new technologies and applications that can impact customer care and create new revenue opportunities. It’s important that when selecting vendors, you investigate their business experience in the application of new technologies and solutions. Your hosted vendor should be asking you about your business needs and have a full understanding of your customer care strategy and vision to implement the appropriate new technologies.

Considering the cloud as a platform for delivering applications can be a sound business decision. There is a wide array of benefits ranging from quick access to new technologies and support for new customer care strategies. Financial benefits can include a reduction in total cost of ownership, reduced internal resource requirements, elimination of life-cycle concerns and a consistent cost model. The right cloud vendor will want to assist you in defining and delivering on these benefits.    

Matt Jackels is the product manager of Convergys (News - Alert) Cloud Solutions at Spanlink Communications ( Spanlink partners with Convergys Corp. to deliver cloud-based Cisco contact center and customer collaboration solutions.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi