By Matt Patterson, LightEdge Engineer

Everyone is talking about Cloud these days? Are you in the cloud? Is your infrastructure cloud ready? What the heck is the cloud? You may already be using the cloud and just don’t know it.

With all the talk of the cloud of what it is and what it isn’t, there’s a general agreement that at some point, you’re going to have a conversation about moving your infrastructure out of your four walls and what that really means to your organization. Whether you’ve taken the leap already or are planning to in the near future, it makes sense to fully understand certain considerations that help lead to a successful platform.

Questions to ask

When evaluating a shared cloud provider, you should be asking some of these questions (and many more pertaining to your particular needs) to make sure that you are prepared for various scenarios that can develop. Even the well known names have the occasional issues. It’s best to, at a minimum, consider what your plan is for different situations to make sure you are making the best decisions for your company.

  • Access to the VM. Do you have a remote console access? Do you need to VPN in to then RDP or SSH? What level of security is offered by default to your VM?
  • Backups! Even though your workloads are now virtualized instead of running on a physical server, you still need to be able to both successfully back up the data and successfully recover in a timely fashion. Test your backups and make sure that you can recover the necessary data to be up and running within your recovery window.
  • Access to support. One of the tricks to use when checking out cloud providers is to see how fast they will respond to a phone or email inquiry. When you call their support number, are you in a long queue before you get a real person? If you leave a voice mail, do you get a return call that day? How about email? What’s the response time? Do they have an online chat that you can use? How comfortable are you with the response you received before you have an actual issue?
  • Brick and Mortar. For the truly tech savvy folks out there, you want to know that the physical facility that your virtual bits are going into can stand up to the various outage-causing issues that may come its way. Not everyone is going to be able to take a data center tour based on your geographic location. But hopefully you can find information about the facility on a web site or with a quick chat with someone from sales. Mother Nature has a habit of taking out the biggest of the power grids. Is the data center prepared to run for a while without power? What happens when the generators run out of fuel? Is the facility on multiple power grids?
  • If you are a high end site that can’t handle much downtime, then you’ve probably made the investment to have your workloads in multiple data centers. One thing you’ll want to make clear – If datacenter A goes down, is there any limitation either of your application or the data center itself that relies on the other data center. You should be fully separated and able to run active/active if you truly want to mitigate downtime. This is often an area that can haunt a company who has put a lot of hard work (and money) into making their environment as redundant as possible.

Is this a fully comprehensive list of everything you need to ask your cloud provider? No, but it does give you a good starting point. Physical servers and cloud servers…they’re not that different. Ask the right questions and be comfortable with your level of risk.

Happy computing!