Hybrid cloud computing is an attractive option for businesses that want to combine the advantages of public and private clouds.

An organization’s hybrid cloud provider will be an important partner as it integrates on-premises systems with cloud-based ones. Before awarding this important contract, there are seven important aspects to consider.

1. Get to know your workloads.

Before even talking to a hybrid cloud provider, understand the workloads that you want to pull into the hybrid environment and where you will locate them. For example, data backup and disaster recovery require a different kind of hybrid cloud service than complex analytics applications.

At the same time, ensure your provider can grow with you as your cloud strategy matures. Look to providers that can offer the services you will need as your cloud environment evolves. Seek out solutions that can integrate well with other providers’ platforms if you need to allocate different hybrid cloud contracts in a multicloud environment.

2. Evaluate performance.

Your choice of workload informs the next question to ask a potential provider: for what kind of workload is its infrastructure optimized? As cloud services evolve, providers are beginning to specialize in the kinds of workloads that they support. For example, some might focus on supporting developers, while others might serve a particular kind of application such as systems, applications and products (SAP).

Another aspect of performance is latency. Latency requirements are strict, especially in hybrid cloud environments where on-premises workloads communicate with cloud infrastructure. In these instances, your organization might require a provider with a local edge data center or at least one that can support the appropriate direct connectivity options.

3. Match public and private infrastructure.

Your hybrid cloud provider must also be able to support the technology options that you already use in on-premises infrastructure. Look for easy mappings between the virtual machine choices you’ve made in house and the formats that the service provider supports, for example.

Aligning the two infrastructures will make it easier to migrate workloads between one environment and the other.

4. Look for easy onboarding.

Ask your potential cloud provider what assistance it offers with migrating data and workloads to its infrastructure. Migration can be a challenging task, especially when working with large data sets. How can the provider help make it simpler and cheaper?

Some may offer hardware appliances to help you ship large data sets manually. At the very least, it should provide migration tools to help you map data between your on-premises infrastructure and its own or provide a consulting service to walk you through the process.

5. Assess security.

The provider should also be able to help you as you secure your data in a hybrid environment.

Hybrid workloads often involve security controls such as tokens. These tokens protect sensitive information in cloud data centers by pointing to records kept on customer premises. Ensure that hybrid cloud providers can help you implement these security measures.

A cloud provider should also be able to answer questions about their compliance processes and risk management. For a list of questions to ask, look through this cloud security assessment list from the Object Management Group.

6. Ensure availability and redundancy.

Security is only one aspect of computing risk. Another is availability. Check your provider’s approach to making your data available.

Service-level agreements (SLAs) will be a key factor here. They should not only include availability guarantees, but also escalation and compensation procedures in case the service provider cannot meet them. Consider the provider’s ability to help you support multiple cloud service providers so that you can failover between each in the event of a problem.

7. Weigh out pricing.

Cost was one of the main initial drivers for cloud computing. While other considerations such as scalability have become increasingly prevalent as cloud computing strategies mature, budget is still a key factor.

“Cloud shock” is an issue in cloud computing contracts. It often happens when customers don’t keep track of the online resources they are using. Check operating fees with the hybrid cloud provider, including the cost of unplanned service expansions to cover spikes in demand.

Be mindful that ending a contract may come with a fee. Plan for any extraction costs to ensure you can migrate your data successfully at the close of the relationship.

Like any business partnership, a hybrid computing contract is something that customers should approach carefully and with an understanding of what they hope to achieve. This will help you choose the right hybrid cloud provider and craft a solid platform on which to build a long-term hybrid cloud strategy.

Learn more about the top 10 criteria for selecting a managed services provider that best matches your business’s IT needs.

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