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With cloud solutions becoming more and more popular with businesses, selecting the right providers is becoming more and more important.

Thanks to its skyrocketing popularity, established technology companies and upstarts alike have rushed to create cloud offerings. The competition this produces is a boon for companies shopping for cloud offerings, but it also creates challenges when looking for a provider that can be trusted.

Whether you're searching for a cloud hosting solution or a cloud-based application, here are five things to look for when seeking a cloud provider.

A solid SLA

It should go without saying that if you're going to place your applications in the cloud, your provider will need to offer a service level agreement if you hope to sleep at night. Not all SLAs, however, are created equal.

Therefore, it's important to evaluate SLAs closely. What do they really provide for? What sort of outs, if any, has the provider given itself that could leave you hanging dry?

Pricing that passes the sniff test

You hear it time and time again: the cloud helps companies reduce costs. But does it? When you run the numbers, many cloud offerings appear unreasonably expensive. Unfortunately, far too many companies don't run the numbers. Don't make that mistake.

A standards-based solution

One of the biggest problems with the cloud is that many if not most cloud providers have built clouds that aren't interoperable with each other. This is great for them, as it helps create customer lock-in, but it's bad for customers who might want or need to jump to a different cloud down the road.

Although many of the most prominent cloud providers have offerings that are more proprietary than not, do keep in mind the desirability of standards-based offerings when evaluating providers.

An experienced founding/management team

If your business is going to rely on the cloud, you need to be able to rely on the people running your cloud. For obvious reasons, taking a punt on a cloud provider run by those who lack enterprise-level experience is a risky proposition.

A non-Amazon-based architecture

The ill effects of Amazon's recent cloud meltdown were not caused primarily by Amazon. They were actually caused by companies that built poorly architected solutions on the cloud platform believing that Amazon was infallible.

A key lesson: be wary of cloud providers who haven't built their own clouds. In other words, if you're looking at a PaaS company whose cloud is actually Amazon's cloud, you might want to consider building your own Amazon-based solution so that you control your architecture.

Patricio Robles

Published 25 May, 2011 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Comments (1)

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Ravi

I heard a great line at a cloud conference last year "There is no lock-in like cloud lock-in"

The other thing I would consider is the skills required to use the cloud should be widely available not rare. Less relevant for SAAS offerings more relevant for PAAS offerings like AppEngine and Windows Azure.

about 5 years ago

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