Is Your Service Provider on the Right Cloud?

Cut Through the Hype by Asking the Right Questions

Sometimes there are simply too many options and everything begins to sound the same. But you know that no two things are alike. How do you select the best solution for you?

OK. Let's back up a second. You made the decision to outsource some or all of your IT operations for several reasons:

  • You outgrew your existing data center's capacity.
  • You want to be able to rent extra IT capacity for peak loads.
  • You can't expand your IT infrastructure, but it desperately needs to be expanded.
  • You want to shed capital expense.
  • You want to invest only in the things that are core to the business and outsource the rest.
  • The pressure to bring new products or services to market is intense.

Basically, business is constantly changing, and you need to find new ways to quickly and easily accommodate that change without disrupting business.

Many of your peers are turning entirely or in part to cloud computing. Buying IT as a service can help alleviate the challenges of rapid growth and enable faster business innovations. Cloud computing also moves IT from a large capital expense to a predictable operating expense. And, since you no longer have direct control of the infrastructure, you need to trust that someone else does. Vendor choice is critical.

At some point, though, most service provider offerings begin to sound alike because those providers offer similar assurances. You want your service provider to handle the tough technology choices, but you also need to feel confident that there will be no surprises down the road. How do you break through the noise? In other words, how do you make sure you choose the right service provider?

It is important to know that your service provider has made fundamentally sound choices in the IT behind its infrastructure. You want—no, you NEED—to know:

  • The service-level agreements your service provider is signing up to meet
  • How your data will be protected
  • Whether the savings you hope to gain will compensate for the risk and pain of the change
  • How quickly your service provider can recover your data and application after an outage
  • If you can self-recover data after you inadvertently delete it or if you have a long recovery SLA or need to pay extra fees
  • If your service provider can meet all of your legal and compliance requirements
  • If your service provider's infrastructure is fault tolerant
  • How your data is protected from security breaches
  • How efficiently your service provider operates, enabling long-term sustained savings
  • If your service provider can quickly provide the elastic scaling and business agility you need
  • If your service provider can grow and scale your environment without disruption, migration, or process change to you

Getting the assurance that your service provider will meet your business requirements may not be enough. How the provider architects and structures its services can be critical to ongoing success.

Service providers understand that their ability to cost-effectively offer IT as a service requires a fundamentally dynamic and flexible architecture. That architecture can drive down costs over time and scale up or down to meet business demands. From a data storage perspective, many service providers have already chosen NetApp as their preferred vendor—for good reason.

Service providers who build on a NetApp® platform leverage a single, unified platform that has been optimized for shared, secure virtual environments and can be provisioned on an as-needed basis. The unified architecture reduces complexity while allowing IT to scale elastically to meet peak and off-peak business needs most cost effectively. This flexible architecture can reduce the service provider's cost, which translates into cost savings for its customers. In contrast, competitive solutions tend to leverage multiple incompatible platforms that can complicate scaling and increase costs for service providers.

Your service provider should help make you more agile and get to market faster, not slow you down.

Ask your service provider how quickly it can have you up and running. Would you have to ask the service provider to provision everything for you, or could you self-serve? Automating manual tasks means you can just dial in a requirement and instantly get what you need, including additional storage capacity or changes to backup and recovery SLAs.

Today's global enterprise never sleeps, so you need nonstop operation. Even planned downtime can cost you money or an opportunity.

Ask your service provider how it can deliver continuous access to your data and applications, 24x7x365. With NetApp Data Motion ™ your service provider can easily and quickly move a client's entire data partition across multiple storage systems regardless of the server environment while maintaining continuous access to applications. This means your service provider can add capacity, update infrastructure technology, and balance performance while maintaining the highest possible service levels. Traditional planned downtime will be a thing of the past.

Sometimes, accidents (or human error or natural disasters) happen. And you need to restore your data.

Ask your service provider how it plans to ensure that your data is protected. How quickly can it recover your data? If data is changed, a system compromised, or a site lost, the backup solution in place determines whether the intellectual property, sales data, and other business information can be recovered. NetApp customers are able to recover from failure faster and more reliably than from any other storage provider's solution.

Unfortunately, money doesn't grow on trees. (Though wouldn't that be nice.)

Ask your service provider what it is doing to ensure that it is offering you the lowest possible price. Is it leveraging the industry's most efficient technologies and solutions? NetApp is recognized as the leader in storage efficiency . Our customers use 50% less storage . The more your service provider saves on its IT, the more you do.

One way to lower costs is to share IT resources across customers. That means security must be as tight as it can be without sacrificing efficiency.

Ask your service provider how it will ensure that your data is isolated and secure in the new shared infrastructure model. Through their trilateral collaboration, only NetApp, Cisco, and VMware can today* deliver a proven, secure multi-tenancy solution that enables separate applications or customers to securely share the same server, storage, and networking infrastructure with complete isolation so that sensitive information is never compromised.

Speak with service providers today to discuss your concerns and expectations about moving all or part of your IT to a services-based model. You'll find the service providers with the best answers to your questions and the most competitive offerings are the ones running on NetApp.

To join the conversation about what IT as a service means to you, and to make sure your service provider is on the right cloud, go to our Cloud Community .

For more information, check out our cloud computing environment .

* Announced January 26, 2010