I can make a bold claim that early adopters of public cloud infrastructure had it rather easy when it came to choosing the best cloud infrastructure for their enterprise IT needs. With price-performance ratio being the primary and in many cases only consideration. As the cloud wars intensify, all major players are digging deep and are offering a myriad of capabilities and potential to differentiate their services. So the choice is not anymore a simple black and white decision based on high performance, low cost compute services. Each major cloud provider has established a thriving ecosystem of services, differentiators and partners that offer significant value. Organizations who are evaluating cloud providers will now have to consider the larger inter-dependent ecosystem in order to choose a vendor that best fits their current and future IT needs.
Described below are some of the key components of a public cloud ecosystem and the significance of each item may vary by organization and their computing needs.
Core IaaS Components
At the heart of public cloud infrastructure is the core components of elastic compute, storage and networking services. Performance, pricing and ease of use (build, manage, monitor, scale on-demand etc.) of these core components will continue to be the critical factors of cloud evaluation.
Each major cloud infrastructure have their own marketplace, offering a variety of free and paid images (pre-configured appliances), that can be rapidly deployed and can significantly reduce internal IT effort. Breadth and depth of the marketplace can be a key differentiator depending on the IT needs of an organization. For instance, organizations that rely heavily on open source products can readily leverage a marketplace that is rich in open source offerings. For PeopleSoft customers, Oracle Cloud Marketplace is a significant differentiator in this aspect as the latest application images are made readily available for rapid deployment.
Cloud migrations are as much an opportunity for innovation as it is about cost reduction thru commoditized infrastructure. Diverse platform and software as service offerings from cloud vendors provides a lucrative value proposition that is not to be taken lightly. For instance, organizations that are traditionally Oracle DB shops can readily leverage a suite of DBaaS offerings like Autonomous Database, Analytics cloud service on OCI. Same goes for Azure cloud for traditionally Microsoft windows, SQL server shops. While expansion into PaaS offerings may or may not be on your immediate radar, orienting to a cloud provider that better aligns with majority of your IT needs, sets you up for the future.
While every major cloud provider is on a never-ending pursuit of expanding their service offerings, there is also an increase in strategic partnerships and integrations among cloud providers, which is set to increase in the future. The recent announcement of partnership between Oracle and Azure cloud services will make the inter-cloud interactions simpler and much faster. Many PeopleSoft customers are also Microsoft Active Directory users, and this collaboration makes it lot easier to run PeopleSoft on Oracle Cloud and seamlessly use Azure Active Directory service with very low latency. While these partnerships may not be a deal-breaker for individual organizations, being aware and savvy of these partnerships can lend lot of strategic value to your cloud decisions.
Managed Service Providers
Managed Service Providers (MSP) community play a crucial role in migrating, deploying, supporting and expanding an Organizations IT footprint on public cloud infrastructure. Richness and diversity of MSPs in a software/cloud combination is reflection of the supply/demand in that space. For instance MSPs specializing in PeopleSoft on Oracle Cloud could be significantly higher than MSPs specializing in PeopleSoft on Azure. Larger the MSP community means easy access to specialized resources, cheaper pricing due to competition, mature deployment models, product support, successful customer references etc. Significance of this factor is proportional to your reliance on external vendors to support you on cloud infrastructure.
Specialist Service Providers
As public cloud adoption gathers pace, so is the need and the subsequent emergence of specialized cloud service providers. For instance, emergence of a suite of companies that offer Cloud Cost Optimization, Cloud DevOps Optimization services. Higher the on-demand nature of your cloud utilization, bigger the need for such optimization services in cloud. So the scale of your cloud utilization and the on-demand nature of it defines the weightage of this factor.
Local/Global Talent Pool
Cloud computing technology and services are evolving at a lightning pace and it won’t be stretch to say even the cloud providers themselves are struggling to keep pace with the pace of innovation. Organizations moving to public cloud infrastructure need to establish and support a continuous learning environment for their internal resources. In addition, there will invariably be a need for adhoc/project based support from external specialized resources especially during the early days in cloud. Factors such as your location, industry, federal regulation, all play a role in the availability of skilled resources to meet you cloud needs. So the importance of this factor vary by each organization and certainly has to be key component to consider while evaluating different public clouds.
While all cloud providers portray a picture of ubiquitous availability of their data centers (regions), in reality most of them are clustered in specific regions in every country. Which is unsurprising given they all rely on same resources like redundant high speed network, power, infrastructure, specialized human resources etc. This means unless you are geographically closer to a cloud data center region, you will be reliant on utilizing the public internet for connectivity. All major clouds provide options for dedicated network connectivity from your data center to cloud data centers. Like FastConnect service for Oracle Cloud Infrastructure. These dedicated connections use a combination of cloud provider and local telecom service. So an organization’s need for high-speed connectivity to cloud data center and their geographical location play a key role in determining what cloud/telecom options are available to them locally.
Choosing the right cloud infrastructure for your enterprise IT needs will probably be the most important IT decision your organization makes in this decade. As the cloud providers mature and consolidate, there are fine margins to differentiate their core services. Cloud contracts are not anymore one-to-one relationships, but involves establishing one-to-many interdependent partnerships. So evaluate all the various components and embrace the right public cloud ecosystem that best fits your IT needs.