In-Depth

11 Quick Tips for a Successful Cloud Deployment

From the SLA to WAN optimization, here's 11 steps you don't want to skip.

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After spending the better half of this fall researching the cloud for this month's cover story (see "The Great Cloud Bottleneck"), I've come up with 11 must-do tips.

1. SLA: Demand an SLA, one that's enforceable with real teeth. If the service goes down or slows down enough to harm your business, your losses will at least be partially made up. Your SLA should include overall availability and performance.

2. References: Get references from shops similar in size and need as yours. Make sure you can have an honest conversation with them, or do a site visit. Gain a deep understanding of how the services provider actually hosts the applications, how its network is architected, monitored and managed.

3. Gain Access: You want to have visibility into what's happening with your data and how it's moving across network links.

4. Support: How does the services provider handle network problems? Can it share its exact remedial steps?

5. Location, Location, Location: Hire services providers whose premises are just a few hops away from you.

6. Cloud Bursts: Ask your provider how and how well it deals with sudden spikes in traffic.

7. Analyzing Apps: Not all apps make sense for the cloud. Non-time-sensitive analytical, number-crunching apps and non-mission-critical productivity apps are a better fit. Also, apps where most of the data can remain remote with small bits downloaded and incremental updates made are ideal for the cloud.

8. Availability: Use multiple providers so there's no single point of failure.

9. Spare the WAN: To cut down on WAN costs for bulk uploads, whether for backup or moving databases to the cloud, the late Microsoft researcher James Gray in 2003 advised shipping disks physically rather than moving large amounts of data across the network. Updated research from the University of California, Berkeley, justifies this approach in many cases.

10. Put on a Public Face: If you don't go with a private connection to your services provider, make sure that your edge connections are as fast as possible. This way, you won't add too much latency to an already latent Internet.

11. Pedal to the Metal: There's an array of WAN optimization vendors, and cloud WAN services where you can buy WAN acceleration and optimization as a service. You can always buy bigger pipes,too.

About the Author

Doug Barney is editor in chief of Redmond magazine and the VP, editorial director of Redmond Media Group.

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