After talking with many IT solutions providers, I know that selecting a cloud provider is no easy task. I recently reached out to Paul Hoffmann, Senior Director of Cloud and Technology Solutions for Ingram Micro to get his wisdom on the topic of vetting cloud vendors, and he emphasized the importance of performing due diligence when it comes to choosing a cloud vendor. The relationship between a cloud provider and service provider tends to be a very sticky one that’s very disruptive to the MSP and its customers to switch, he said.
In a recent Talkin’ Cloud blog article, Key Considerations for Vetting Cloud Vendors, Hoffmann introduces VARs, MSPs, and CSPs to Ingram Micro’s Due Diligence Lifecycle (DDL), which is an ongoing process that includes evaluating and onboarding new vendors, performing ongoing health checks and ultimately retiring solutions and vendors. The DDL was the result of Ingram’s experience working with more than 155 different cloud solutions and helping hundreds of VARs, MSPs, and CSPs make the transition to selling cloud services. Here are four highlights from the DDL that can help you make a more informed cloud vendor selection decision:
1. Determine the Cloud Vendor’s Business Health. Before you look at the provider’s technology, it’s important to look at the health of its business. “How long has it been in business, how is it funded, what is its current debt, and what do its past, present and projected revenue and profitability look like?” are some good questions to start with. Only if a cloud vendor candidate has a healthy business and passes the first test is it okay to move forward to evaluating its cloud solution.
2. Ensure You’ll be Supported. The next step is to consider the personnel and infrastructure supporting the cloud vendor’s solution. On the personnel side, you want to know how many people the cloud vendor has dedicated to operations, engineering and support. One of the biggest fears your customers have with the cloud is losing control of their IT infrastructure and data. The last thing you want to do is validate those fears if you’re not able to reach a support person and get a problem resolved in a timely manner.
3. Validate the Candidate’s Technology Processes. This involves its solution product life cycle as well as how it handles incident, problem and change management. One of the first questions you’ll want to know about the vendor’s infrastructure is what type of audit it has passed. Ideally, you want to work with a vendor that’s passed an SSAE 16 audit, which means that it has redundant power, data redundancy and physical security processes in place—the necessary foundation for storing your customers’ data. Beyond that, it’s important to understand their processes and fees for recovering your data in the event of a disaster. For example, would they mail you a stack of DVDs containing your customer’s data or would they overnight an external hard drive?
4. Choose a Channel-Friendly Provider. Even if a candidate meets all the previous three criteria, you still can’t move forward until you know this: How channel-friendly is it? The last thing you want to do is move your customers’ data and infrastructure to a cloud vendor’s data center, only to have it compete against you for your customers’ continued business. In addition to any written policies a potential cloud vendor candidate might have to defend its channel-friendly claims, it’s a good idea to also get a list of references from a few other channel companies using the provider’s services.
If you’re seriously considering working with a cloud provider, be sure to check out Hoffmann’s article and follow the DDL process. Sure, it will be more work upfront, but it can save you from a world of grief down the road.