Selecting the Right Cloud Platform

Not all cloud platforms are the same. Application developers have become increasingly savvy about the cloud and the options now available to them. But most of today’s cloud solutions are essentially “one-size-fits-all,” requiring developers to sacrifice one, or more, aspects of their cloud computing requirements – whether it’s cost, preferred provider or availability of certain services to meet their unique needs.

While practically everything is being offered “as-a-service” now, vendors’ offerings can vary wildly as they try to adapt to the evolving needs of applications. Some apps are simple, others have complex platform requirements. Most apps need to scale, but some have limited life spans. How exactly can developers find a cloud platform that is a good fit for their needs today, but will adapt to meet changing needs?

Answering that question may seem daunting at first, but if you consider the following five criteria when evaluating cloud providers, you’ll be more confident that you’re selecting the right cloud platform.

Polytech – Can the Platform Support Multiple Languages, Databases and Middleware?

You may need to use multiple languages or databases as you create your applications. Each application will have different needs as it is developed, and those needs also may change over time. By finding a cloud provider that can support multiple languages and databases, you’ll avoid having to select a different cloud for each type of application. It’s important not just to look at the service a cloud provider is offering, but whether that platform provides the depth and breadth you need.

For example, a SaaS company that helps developers build visual prototypes in the cloud leverages several PHP frameworks, as well as a variety of databases and queueing technologies to meet its clients’ varying needs. And a sport merchandise company uses multiple languages and related frameworks and middleware to power its site to ensure customers can shop anytime.

Polycloud – Can the Provider Run on Multiple Infrastructures and Support Hybrid Options?

As demand increases for your applications, you’ll need a provider that can grow with you. The key to ensuring compatibility with these changing requirements is not getting locked in. Therefore you should look for a PaaS solution that supports multiple infrastructures and offers the combination of both private and public resources in hybrid cloud configurations.

For example, by deploying high availability and disaster recovery (HA/DR) across public clouds, one e-commerce company ensures its independent artists and designers can showcase their work without interruption. A gamification company separates its data and application infrastructures by deploying them on different public clouds with a low latency secure gateway for inter-cloud connectivity.

Proven – Does the Cloud Provider Have a Strong Track Record?

Because the cloud market is relatively new with strong growth potential, there are a myriad of young platform providers that are trying to get in on the opportunity. When considering cloud platform providers, it’s critical to choose a stable company that can provide the service level you need, whether you’re a small start-up, a development agency supporting many customers or running large enterprise applications. You should look for case studies and references that prove the provider’s capabilities, and strongly consider selecting a provider with a history of delivering a commercial-grade platform that is reliable, secure and flexible.

Questions you should ask include: how long has the company been in business, how many apps they have in production, what’s the expertise of both the management and development team, and are they comfortable with both legacy and new apps. With these answers, you won’t risk your business-critical applications to an inexperienced provider that has service interruptions, poor support, and could unexpectedly go out of business.

How secure is your cloud?

Security should be a major consideration when it comes to storing your company’s critical data in the cloud. Cloud providers should have several standard security measures in place and constantly update them, Foreman says. “You’ve got to be sure that you’re completely comfortable with your cloud provider’s approach to security.”

Security measures to look for include firewalls, anti-virus detection, multifactor user authentication and data encryption, and routine security audits. It’s also important to ask who at the cloud company will have access to your data in the cloud and whether the cloud provider does employee background checks to weed out potential cybercriminals or identity thieves.

Foreman says providers also should answer questions about compliance with government legislation specific to your industry. For example, if your business is in the healthcare industry, you’ll want to be sure your cloud provider is compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which deals with patient data privacy and security.

What’s your downtime history?

Downtime is when a cloud provider is inaccessible to users via the internet for a period of time. Naturally, the best answer to this question is never. However, even the biggest, best-known cloud providers occasionally experience downtime, as Amazon recently did during an outage that took down Netflix.

Because cloud outages can be disruptive and costly for your business, it’s best to choose a provider with as few as possible. Some vendors post their downtime history logs online. If not, be sure to ask for a cloud provider’s track record.

Conclusion: go with the proven platforms – AWS or Azure.

Read our article AWS vs Microsoft Azure – a High Level Comparison between the Giants of Cloud Computing to compare them

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