2The Seven Service Attributes
3Can I Count on You?
One of the most critical attributes with which companies are challenged is finding a reliable cloud service. If a service provider doesn’t actually own or have control of the underlying solution (infrastructure, software, servers), then reliability isn’t controlled by the service provider at all. Some factors that contribute to reliability include number of sequential components in the service, failure rate of each component of the service and redundancy of each component of the service.
4Will You Be There When I Need You?
Cloud services are meant to be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week without any hiccups or outages. The availability of a cloud service is measured by how often outages occur and how long an outage lasts. A service provider with fewer outages but longer outage periods could have the same availability as a service provider with more outages but shorter outage periods. Potential cloud-service customers should ask to see downtime records verified by a third party.
5Can I Trust You?
Cloud services all involve trust. With many companies transferring more and more of their data to the cloud, the question of how secure a cloud service really is becomes top of mind for every executive. The security of a cloud service should be measured by its weakest link. A company can have an airtight data center, but if you transfer content insecurely over the connections between the data center and the client’s location, or if the client’s security is weak, then the level of security for the whole system is equal to the weakest part of the system. Cloud service providers also must be continuously vigilant in monitoring for cyber-attacks and updating their security firewalls.
6How Flexible Is the Platform?
When companies think of a cloud, they think of the scalability it offers their business. The very nature of the cloud is its ability to scale to virtually any size to meet customer demand. The key is to provide scalability without compromising the other service attributes, such as reliability or quality of service. To accomplish this, a cloud service provider needs to be able to scale in all areas, including storage, network, applications, servers, bandwidth and geographies.
7Will You Work as Promised?
Organizations in search of a cloud service may look at a company because of its popularity, but they ultimately should evaluate it based on the quality of its promised performance. The quality of the service being delivered is measured with every phone call made, every file shared and every video conference conducted. When selecting a provider, companies should look at a fully integrated solution because if multiple cloud services are being provided by multiple providers, inter-service conflict or disruption can occur. When it does, one or more services will suffer.
8Do We Have a Deal?
When working with any service provider, companies should keep in mind that a service-level agreement (SLA) is very important to have. An SLA protects the business and the service provider by defining the level of service to be delivered. It also provides basic guarantee of services, and if those guarantees are not met, it provides the customer with a course of action.
9Good Support Cannot Be Overstated
Of the seven attributes, support is the one that is most often overlooked when choosing a cloud service provider. Support is not always part of the consideration process, and it can vary from market to market and company to company. Many file-sharing services have only a Web-based knowledge board, while others have an entire call-support center in which they provide live IT support to answer any questions or concerns and help resolve issues as they arise. Companies should think carefully about the level and quality of support with which they feel comfortable.
10If I Care, You Should, Too
All businesses want to be at the top. When planning to use any kind of cloud service, companies should be sure to ask the provider about these attributes before moving forward and carefully consider what is most important to them. Better yet, ask if they even know what these attributes are.