BUYING GUIDE. Buying Guide for Cloud Services

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1 BUYING GUIDE Buying Guide for Cloud Services

2 Getting Started Welcome to the CompTIA Buying Guide for Cloud Services. If you are like most executives, buying technology often entails elements of excitement, hope, uncertainty, frustration and everything in between. Requirements must be identified, OVERVIEW competing needs weighed, capabilities evaluated, ROI assessed and a host of other factors considered. This buying guide is designed to provide a starting point. There are many flavors of cloud computing, as well as many decision factors and purchase considerations. Even for the savviest of businesses, investing in a cloud solution can be a complicated and challenging endeavor. The not-for-profit Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) designed this guide to assist in navigating the purchase process for cloud solutions. This is not intended to be a Consumer Reports-type product review, but rather a framework for asking the right questions to ensure an informed decision is made. What you will find in the CompTIA Buying Guide for Cloud Applications and Services: 1 2 CLOUD PRIMER: IS THE CLOUD A GOOD FIT FOR YOU BUSINESS? What are the components of the cloud ecosystem? How do they expand options for business? What are the typical stages of cloud adoption? CLOUD CONSIDERATIONS AND DECISION FACTORS What are the key value propositions of the cloud? And, what are the cautionary factors that must be evaluated? Self-assessment: what are your organization s priorities and how do they map to cloud solutions? 3? QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE BUYING What discussions should take place with cloud service providers, solution providers or internal staff to get maximum return from your investment? 2 CompTIA.org

3 Expanding IT Options Through Cloud Services Ask ten executives for a definition of cloud computing and expect ten different responses. Some may cite a variation of the NIST definition, some may reference a notable cloud service provider and some may claim the cloud is really just another term for the Internet. Top Level Overview of IT Operating Models ON-PREMISE MODEL CLOUD EXCLUSIVE MODEL HYBRID MODEL Applications Servers Storage Systems Applications Storage Applications Servers Storage Systems Applications Servers Storage Systems The debate over definitions reflects the many elements and nuances of cloud computing. The cloud is not one thing, but rather a term used as a shortcut to describe a computing model consisting of many moving parts. This model increasingly affects more areas of the technology landscape on more levels than ever before. Cloud computing has and will continue to expand the IT operations and IT utilization options for organizations of all sizes. CompTIA research indicates the vast majority of businesses now use some form of cloud-based service. This may range from a cloud software application such as Salesforce.com to a cloud data storage service such as Box.com, or the use of a cloud hosting platform such as Microsoft Azure to a mobile app supported by a cloud backend. In the not-too-distant past organizations maintained their IT systems and applications internally, or on the premises of their office building. Today, organizations tend to fall into the hybrid category, and to a slightly lesser extent, the cloud exclusive category. One subtlety of this framework entails the use of public clouds and private clouds, which when used in conjunction may be characterized as a hybrid approach. For many organizations, the typical pattern of cloud adoption starts with experimentation and progresses through optimization. Note: optimization does not necessarily mean 100% cloud. Depending on business objectives and a number of other factors, optimization may mean a hybrid model leveraging the best of the cloud and the best of on-premise IT systems. At a top level, the cloud ecosystem includes hardware, software, services and the users interacting with these components. The use case examples in the simplified chart below depict the types of applications or systems that organizations may opt for a cloud solution. Thinking back to the cloud adoption progression framework, in the experimentation phase, organizations commonly test the cloud waters with an Internet- based application, referred to as Softwareas-a-Service (SaaS). This may be as easy as creating 3

4 TYPICAL CLOUD ADOPTION PROGRESSION Experimentation Non-Critical Use Full Production Optimization an account and using a trial or limited version of a SaaS application (think Salesforce.com, Google Docs, Constant Contact and so on). The non-critical use stage also commonly involves software-as-a-service and possibly the use of a cloud- backend for application hosting or data storage purposes, referred to as Infrastructureas-a-Service (IaaS). In the full production and optimization stages, organizations may use a range of cloud services in concert with their on-premise systems to efficiently and effectively meet the needs of staff users and customer users. A SIMPLIFIED LOOK AT THE CLOUD ECOSYSTEM 1 SOFTWARE & SYSTEMS USED BY CUSTOMERS CLOUD SERVICE EXAMPLE - Website - E-commerce - Mobile app CLOUD NOMENCLATURE - SaaS - IaaS 2 SOFTWARE, SYSTEMS & DEVICES USED BY EMPLOYEES - - Collaboration - Customer database (CRM) - Project Management - Function specific (e.g. HR, finance) - Tablet + cloud-based data - SaaS - IaaS (possibly) 3 IT FOUNDATION & INFRASTRUCTURE - Data storage / Back-up - Application hosting - Servers / Systems - Development / Testing - Security - Iaas - SaaS - PaaS (possibly) 4 CompTIA.org

5 Cloud Considerations and Decision Factors Any business investment decision requires weighing a range of decision factors, including the needs of stakeholders, alignment with corporate objectives, functional requirements, the pros/cons of each offering, and of course, the total cost of ownership (TCO). An understanding of the cloud value proposition factors and the cloud cautionary factors helps to frame the cloud investment evaluation. WHERE DID THE NAME CLOUD COMPUTING COME FROM? The name originated during brainstorming sessions among software developers and network architects. When laying out ideas on a whiteboard, they needed a way to convey remote computing conducted over the Internet and began using the image of a cloud to depict this concept. CLOUD VALUE PROPOSITION FACTORS Pay-as-you-go cost model Typically a monthly operational expense (opex) paid during the period of usage, rather than a large upfront capital expense (capex). Pay-for-what-you-need usage model Fees may be based on the number of users, the amount of storage, compute instances or some other metric. This model minimizes overpaying for unused resources. Scalability Rapidly add users or capacity in peak times; scale down during off peak times. Speed and agility Get up and running quickly (under many cloud use scenarios). Enabler of innovation Add new capabilities, leverage APIs, free up IT staff time from routine IT maintenance to focus on innovation. Mobility / remote access Many cloud solutions provide superior mobility/remote access capabilities compared to on-premise solutions. Time savings The responsibility for software updates, patches and other routine maintenance tasks shift to the cloud service provider, freeing-up IT staff time. Levels the playing field Cloud services expands the depth and breadth of technology available to small and medium size businesses, allowing them to compete with much larger firms. 5

6 Security improvements In an interconnected world, on-premise IT systems are not as safe as they may appear. Cloud service providers invest heavily in security technology and expertise and are especially adept at thwarting certain types of security attacks. User friendly Many born in the cloud services are designed with the Internet and the user experience in mind, providing a superior experience over legacy software applications. Backup / disaster recovery With on-premise IT systems, a natural disaster, fire or other issue could compromise business operations. Generally, cloud solutions provide superior backup and disaster recovery. CLOUD CAUTIONARY FACTORS Broadband dependent Cloud solutions are only as good as the speed and reliability of the Internet connection. Integration challenges Few IT systems or applications operate in isolation. Cloud services will inevitably need to interact with other systems or applications. Integration can be a significant challenge. Unexpected costs Over time, monthly cloud service fees add up. Over a long enough time horizon, they may exceed a one-time on-premise IT investment. Additionally, integration costs or peak demand requirements may drive total costs higher than expected. Flexibility / control tradeoffs Public cloud services by their definition are shared among many users. While this offers efficiencies, it limits control and the ability to customize the solution. Process / policy requirements In some situations, the technology is the easy part. The challenge comes in adjusting workflow, processes and event the employee mindset. Cloud solutions may spur the need for new processes and policies. Performance Not all cloud service providers are created equally. Some IaaS, PaaS or SaaS providers may be better than others. Security While elements of security may improve in a cloud environment, other new vulnerabilities may be exposed. Regulatory uncertainty Does your organization operate in a heavily regulated industry such as healthcare, or handle sensitive data such as the financial sector? Federal and state laws regarding privacy, data breach notification and much more continue to evolve. Confusing service level agreements (SLAs) AKA, the fine print. Vendor lock-in How easy is it to retrieve and move data or systems from one cloud vendor to another cloud or back to an on-premise IT system? There are new tools making this easier, but it may still be challenging. Reliability Even the largest of cloud service providers have experienced downtime. Other cloud service providers have gone out of business or were acquired. Overall, cloud service provider reliability is very high, but it is a factor that must be considered. 6 CompTIA.org

7 Needs Self-Assessment Before jumping into evaluating cloud solutions, it is worth spending some time with a quick internal assessment. Similar to how you do not begin car shopping without establishing basic parameters (number of passengers, budget range, body style), it is premature to begin cloud shopping without a bit of introspection. It is not uncommon to have areas of uncertainty in the purchase (think of these as the optional features in a car purchase), so think of this as a starting point. Refinements can always be made along the way as business objectives and needs are clarified. Scope Limited in scope specific to a certain function or department Broad in scope impacts multiple functions or departments Complexity Expect the project on the lower side of the complexity continuum Expect the project on the medium to higher side of the complexity continuum Scalability Expect utilization to grow significantly over time, so scalability is important Expect utilization remain generally constant, so scalability is less important Lean towards more functionality; willing to tradeoff some degree of simplicity Internal IT Capabilities High level of expertise and experience in most areas of IT Moderate level of expertise and experience in most areas of IT Lower level of expertise and experience in most areas of IT Internal IT Assessment Exactly or very close to where we want to be with IT (reliability, functionality, ROI, etc.) Somewhat close to where we want to be with IT Not that close to where we want to be with IT Functionality vs. Complexity Tradeoff Lean towards simplicity and user-experience; willing to tradeoff some functionality Factors Driving Interest in Cloud Solutions Rank order from most important (1st), to second most important (2nd) and so on Lower total cost of ownership (TCO) Improve agility and ability to quickly deploy technology Add new functionality / capabilities (e.g. mobile functionality) Reduce time spent on routine IT maintenance / troubleshooting Modernize IT systems and applications / looking to transform and optimize IT Improve staff user experience with IT / reduce complexity 7

8 Questions to Ask Before Buying These questions may apply to a cloud service provider (SaaS, PaaS or Iaas), an IT solution provider that may be supporting your organization, or internal staff pursuing a cloud initiative. Cloud Performance and Capabilities What metrics are used to assess speed, reliability and overall performance? How does the SLA handle performance requirements? Are there good, better, best tiers of features and capabilities? What tradeoffs exist between capabilities and easeof-use? What is the mechanism for determining how this cloud solution integrates with our other IT systems, applications or processes? If customization is required, how is that handled? What are the mobile or remote capabilities of this cloud solution? Cloud Data Storage What methods are used to protect my data? Are there any guarantees to protect my data against security breaches or data leaks? Who can access my data? This may include insiders, other firms, government agencies How is data backup and disaster recovery handled? What redundancy is built into the system? Support How is support provided (phone, , IM)? Is emergency support available 24/7? What can I expect from your customer help desk? How are complex questions escalated? Is there a user forum or other self-serve repository of FAQs? What type of training is provided to ensure my staff get the most out of this investment? Cloud Service Provider Expertise How does your team stay current with new cloud technology developments and trends? What members of your team will be working on my project? Will this change over time? What relevant industry credentials or certifications, if any, does your firm or team have? What is your level of expertise with the regulatory compliance requirements for my industry? If I am required to provide an audit trail to demonstrate compliance, how will this be handled? Do you have any customers that are in a similar line of business as mine? Costs and Contracts What is the fee structure? Are there any extra or hidden fees? Do you offer contract flexibility, such as the option of annual or monthly payments? Is there a cap on how much rates can be increased by? What happens if I want to terminate my contract? How do I get my data back? Do you have any case studies or ROI assessments to help me understand the cost/benefits of this proposed solution? Do you have any comparisons showing the cost of on-premise vs. cloud solutions over time? Will I need to purchase any additional infrastructure, software, etc. to use this solution? 8 CompTIA.org

9 About CompTIA CompTIA is the voice of the world s information technology (IT) industry. Its members are the companies at the forefront of innovation and the professionals responsible for maximizing the benefits organizations receive from their investments in technology. CompTIA is dedicated to advancing industry growth through its educational programs, market research, networking events, professional certifications, and public policy advocacy. For more information, please visit CompTIA.org. 9

10 CompTIA Worldwide Headquarters CompTIA Member Services, LLC 3500 Lacey Road, Suite 100 Downers Grove, Illinois CompTIA.org 2014 CompTIA Properties, LLC, used under license by CompTIA Member Services, LLC. All rights reserved. All membership activities and offerings to members of CompTIA, Inc. are operated exclusively by CompTIA Member Services, LLC. CompTIA is a registered trademark of CompTIA Properties, LLC in the U.S. and internationally. Other brands and company names mentioned herein may be trademarks or service marks of CompTIA Properties, LLC or of their respective owners. Reproduction or dissemination prohibited without written consent of CompTIA Properties, LLC. Printed in the U.S Aug2014

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