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How to Talk to Your Cloud Provider

how to talk to your cloud provider

Cloud providers are relatively new.  So, how do you effectively communicate with them?

By David Linthicum for Nelson Hilliard

While public cloud providers are nothing new, we’ve just begun some important conversations to consider the strategic needs of their technology in relation to our needs.  Just a few years ago, few public cloud providers picked up the phone.  Today, being a public cloud provider means lots of customer service communications.  Moreover, being an enterprise that leverages a public cloud provider means that you need to understand how to effectively communicate with these providers, both on sales and operational issues.

Keep in mind that for the major IaaS providers, such as AWS, Google, Microsoft, and IBM, supporting a cloud is an emerging science.  They are still in learning mode, especially ISVs that have built a public cloud, such as IBM and Microsoft.

Your relationship with providers should be that of bidirectional understanding.  They need to understand your requirements, and you need to understand what to ask for, as far as matching up their products with your cloud requirements.

For instance, communicating your storage needs means not just providing the amount of storage you need.  You must also understand latency, security, management, and geographic distribution.  Your provider needs to understand all of these requirements before moving forward with the right IaaS storage solution.  This needs to be understood by both parties, but also be in writing.

When negotiating prices, it’s a good idea to understand the number of years that you’ll likely need the public cloud service.  If you’re buying one year at a time, the discounts will be hard to come by.  Multi-year deals could be as much as 50% off retail, if you’re a big enterprise.  Albeit, some cloud providers will discount a great deal, while a few will hold strong on their prices.  Of course, prices are creeping down all of the time, so factor that into your thinking as well.

As far as operations go, my best advice is that you communicate using ways that can be later audited.  This means that you need to open up tickets when you’re having issues so there is an electronic record that you’ve had an issue.  This will help you get credits for outages, or other misses in the requirements of the SLAs.

You don’t need to treat cloud providers any different than you treat your existing vendors.  Indeed, some are your existing vendors.  However, you do need to open up an effective line of communication that can support the acquisition of cloud services, based on your requirements, as well as provide effective support for ongoing operational issues.  If a potential provider cannot offer adequate information and support prior to the sale, it’s doubtful an acceptable level of support will drop into place after the sale.

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David S. Linthicum is a managing director and chief cloud strategy officer. David is internationally recognized as the worlds No.1 cloud computing industry expert, pundit and thought-leader.

(Disclosure: David Linthicum’s views in the blogs, video shows and podcasts are his OWN and are NOT financially sponsored by Nelson Hilliard)

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