Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) gives your clients cloud computing power without an investment in on-site servers, data centers, or infrastructure — or the resources to maintain them. With businesses leveraging IaaS as they migrate some or all of their IT systems to the cloud, opportunities for managed services providers (MSPs) and value-added resellers (VARs) will continue to grow. Gartner predicts the IaaS will increase 27.6 percent to $39.5 billion in 2019, the fastest-growing segment of cloud services.
A large number of IaaS offerings that vary in the features and services they include, however, can make choosing an IaaS provider challenging. This list of fundamental criteria will help you narrow choices to Infrastructure as a Service offerings that best meet your clients’ needs:
- Security: McAfee explains that IaaS providers are responsible for controls that protect their operations, including access control to data centers, IT systems and cloud services. The IaaS vendor should provide users with tools for monitoring, logging and managing resources. Additionally, request information from the IaaS provider on hardware, maintenance and security solutions including firewalls, intrusion detection, and filtering.
- Compliance: Regulations, such as The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) or the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or the California Consumer Privacy Act, require that businesses take reasonable measures to protect data. IaaS users don’t have visibility into infrastructure specs and maintenance when they use IaaS as they would if they owned servers and infrastructure installed at their own facilities. Therefore, the IaaS vendor’s cooperation is essential for users to have the documentation they need to show compliance. IaaS providers should conduct compliance audits and provide users with the necessary information.
- Right-sizing: Research the provider’s offerings to ensure your client can adjust (and only pay for) the usage they need. Discuss patterns or trends that occur within your client’s workflow and find options that meet their needs most cost-effectively.
- Integration: One of the benefits of using an IaaS platform is the ability to access all applications in the suite from one user interface. Develop a clear understanding of what the user experience will be with each platform you are considering. For example, will it be necessary to use different tools in addition to those within the IaaS platform, use different credentials to access them, and spend time switching back and forth between user interfaces?
Also, consider whether data can be shared between applications and systems and if the platform gives your clients options to add functions and scale in the future.
- Service Level: Make sure that the service level the IaaS provider agrees to for availability and performance meets your client’s needs. If your client needs IaaS to support mission-critical operations, ensure the IaaS provider will guarantee the resources and support they need.
- Migration and ongoing support: Successfully migrating systems, applications and workflows to the cloud takes strategy and planning. Research the support the Infrastructure as a Service vendor will provide during migration and beyond when your client needs assistance.
Know Who You’re Dealing With
Another question to ask is whether the IaaS provider uses their own technology or if they’re providing white-labeled services or a solution that includes another company’s IaaS platform under their own brand. Either scenario could provide your client with the products and services they need, but a provider of a white label solution could compete with you for other aspects of your client’s IT business.
Enter into partnerships with your eyes wide open, have a full understanding of the IaaS offering and the vendor’s commitment to its users, and choose an IaaS platform that will help your business grow as well as provide optimal cloud services to your clients.