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Challenges of Choosing Your First Cloud

With all the options available out there, how can you determine which cloud solution is the best one according to your business needs?

By Sabih Saeed, Solutions Architect at Ricoh

In the world of cloud computing where every organization wants to migrate to public cloud, there are challenges along the way. There is no match for flexibility and scalability we get in the public cloud, but we need a well-developed plan to best utilize the endless features available to us in the public cloud. I will discuss the most fundamental challenges and describe how Alibaba Cloud can help you solve these challenges.

When choosing the right cloud product or solution, key decisions that you will have to make includes the following:

  1. Selecting a suitable cloud service provider in your region
  2. Scalability, availability, and reliability of cloud products
  3. Technical capability of employees within your organization
  4. Costs of cloud migration and enterprise budget

Choosing the "Best" Public Cloud

While there is no definite winner among all the public cloud providers out there, each of them has their unique strengths and weaknesses. Choosing the right provider is the most critical decision as once you start deploying or migrating, you will realize that it's not simple to move out of the public cloud service provider because in the cloud, you do lose the control to some extent. For example, you can't access the host under normal offering, if you want a dedicated host then it's going to cost you more.

Here are a few guidelines to help you make an informed decision.

  1. IaaS-VMs: This is one feature which you will find with all service providers but depending on VM selected and; its disks could impact the uptime guaranteed for your cloud infrastructure. Cloud providers like Alibaba Cloud offers 99.95% high availability guaranteed for single instance and 99.99% uptime guaranteed for multi-zone VMs. Many cloud providers today provide similar level of availability for single instances, but not all service providers provide support for multi-zone instances (less than 99.99% uptime guarantee).
  2. PaaS-Business Applications: PaaS is always a trade-off between control and productivity. Although it is more productive, you do lose the OS-level control. There are some application vendors who do not formally support PaaS even if the application works fine. Check with your application vendor if they support the use of PaaS, meaning the application is all tested to work in a PaaS environment.
  3. Cost: One of the most important deciding factor for all enterprises. In my experience, Alibaba Cloud is by far the most cost-effective service provider of all. Matching the uptime SLAs (sometimes better) with less cost is the key with no bill shocks.
  4. Point of Interconnect: A very important factor that has two aspects, regional offices of your organization and the presence of cloud service provider. For example, if your enterprise is heavily focused in the APAC region, then Alibaba Cloud would be a great option as it has the largest presence in APAC region among all cloud providers in this region. If you have offices in multiple regions, then it is important to know whether your cloud service provider is available in all those countries.
  5. China Gateway: China is a high regulated market and navigating through the local internet laws can be tricky. If you have offices in China, or are expecting to expand there, then you should find a cloud provider that knows the ins and outs of operating in China. Currently, Alibaba Cloud is the only service provider which can provide direct fiber service in China. There are other cloud service providers in China, but a majority of them operate indirectly through their partners, which could be challenging when it comes to multi-region connectivity. Learn more about China Gateway at www.alibabacloud.com/china-gateway

Optimizing Your Budget

Once you have picked your service provider, the first thing will be to look at the pricing estimates and see how much it's going to cost to run services from the public cloud of your choice.

Here are a few tips for you to better manage your budget to minimize costs.

  1. Reverse engineering: Consider the best possible desired state of your IT and then work backwards to create the estimates. Alibaba Cloud can help by providing free consultancy through partners like Ricoh. We can assess your IT infrastructure and provide recommendations, whether it is a full cloud migration or a hybrid cloud solution as not everything have to be on a VM. We will come up with the best possible match for your service in the public cloud, its monitoring, costings and the overall migration plan.
  2. Include everything: This includes backups, monitoring, additional disks, network traffic, and snapshots. When you compare Alibaba Cloud with any other service provider, you will find that there are several components free with Alibaba Cloud that you would normally have to pay for with another service provider. For example, egress network traffic and backups are free on Alibaba Cloud.
  3. Costing model: Not everything has to be "Pay as you Go". Subscription or reservation can save you a lot, but the complication is to decide which resource is going to be PAYG or subscription based. Alibaba Cloud combined with our partner network can help you answer that and optimize the cost.

I hope this guide will come in handy when your enterprise is deciding whether or not to migrate to the cloud.

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