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Cloud accreditation: seven questions to ask providers
Cloud skills are in short supply and opinion is divided about the merit of qualifications and accreditations when choosing a supplier
Those who trust the skills market in the cloud industry are rare.
David McLeman, MD of cloud service provider Ancoris, has every faith in the certification of the cloud industry. "Cloud vendors, such as Google, have put in place a stringent certification programme to ensure their resellers keep up their level of competency and to help customers select the right reseller," says McLeman.
There are many dissenters, even in the supply chain, who say this is nonsense. Luke Talbot, product manager for Azzurri Communications seems to invoke the spirit of Michael Caine. "Cloud hasn't just opened the door to new entrepreneurs: it's blown them clean off. Unfortunately that's also a bad thing."
Accreditation in this new world is useless, he argues and the safety of most companies hangs in a very precarious balance, while some dodgy characters try to stop your assets from tipping over into the abyss.
Clive Longbottom, senior researcher at analyst Quocirca, says service providers are tough to evaluate. Forget qualifications, giving them a grilling. Longbottom and other pundits offer their tips on how to assize up a service provider.
1. Ask About Their Hypervisor
The first thing you should do with assessing a service provider is ask what hypervisor technology they are using, says Longbottom. Then ask them to explain why - the answers will be revealing.
"Is it purely for cost reasons, or do they believe that the hypervisor gives them business differentiation?” says Longbottom. "If there is a bit of a silence or a major break before answering, then it’s likely to be for cost reasons and cost is not a good reason to go to a service provider.” IT should still be a differentiator, not a commodity. If IT is a commodity, then our collective careers are in trouble!
2. Ask About Utilisation Rates
Ask what utilisation rates they are running at in the virtualised space. If it is less than 30 per cent, ask why, and how come virtualisation hasn’t improved their rates?
If it is greater than 70 per cent, ask how they deal with workload spikes. Ask how they will deal with the need for portability of virtual machines. The service provider should either explain who will help you or it’s down to you to provide suitable virtual machines for the chosen platform.
"If they try to say there will be no problems – run for the hills," says Longbottom.
3. Ask About Up-Time
Skill in maintaining up time is a better reflection on a service provider than any certification.
Although virtualisation does provide better availability through its inherent capabilities, it is not high availability or full availability. “A single virtualised platform can still suffer from large hits. The service provider should be able to offer system mirroring and cold, warm or hot VM mirroring to an alternate site,” says Longbottom
4. Look for Evidence of a Hybrid Environment
A good service provider will know how to integrate a multi-cultural IT community, according to Mateen Greenway, an HP fellow for HP Enterprise Services in EMEA.
"There’s no one-cloud-fits-all solution, so hybrid cloud assessment skills will be needed,” says Greenway. You need proof they can mediate between the apps on legacy hardware, the out-supported, the virtualised services, the private and the public clouds.
That will be the only meaningful accreditation that they can create a hybrid set of abilities, says Greenway. "They need to act as a systems integrator bringing together services from multiple suppliers to deliver the required business services, or outsource this function to a cloud service broker."