Tips When Choosing a Cloud Provider

I just finished a short-term project where I VM’s hosted in a VCD backed cloud and ran into a few issues during the process that might help others when choosing a cloud provider.

I started the project out by calculating resource needs. I then talked with numerous vendors about their clouds and if it would work with our process needs. All of them were interested in our project and wanted to help but I soon realized not all vendors are created equal.

After selecting a vendor I discovered some topics that needed to be talked about before a vendor was selected. Here’s some questions/features which need to be communicated with your potential cloud provider before signing any contracts.

  1. Base VM’s – How VM’s will be created within vApps. Use templates from vendor or build your own. Uploading media can count against your network bandwidth quota.
  2. VM Resources – You may not need as much CPU/Memory if not all is needed or guaranteed.  Performance test in-house with different reservation and resource pool limits.
  3. Application/Workflow – In our instance we needed Fast Provisioning enabled. Provider did this but didn’t restrict LUNs to 8 hosts and they were on vSphere 5.0.  Once we had 9-10 instances running we couldn’t power on any more. Had to ship hardware overnight in case vendor couldn’t get this working for us.
  4. Length of contract – make sure you have enough time (and network bandwidth) to get any VM’s or data off before your contract expires. I was close to not getting a couple of things back I really needed.
  5. Thin Provisioning – wasn’t needed in our environment as we really needed linked-clones (Fast Provisioning) but might be able to use this to save disk space.
  6. Normal update outage times – In our case the provider did updates to VCD Thursday nights. I didn’t pay attention to this and was testing my application during this time. The test failed and it took me hours to realize the issue.

There are other things to pay attention to, and I’m sure you can find a ton of posts on them, but these are observations from my journey to the cloud for a specific project.

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