Listed below are the Top 10 questions all cloud seekers should ask cloud service providers. I have included some hints as to why these questions are important.   

Question 1 – Where would you like your cloud?

Why is this important?
Location, location, location. Demand flexibility built to the same standards as a multi-tenant cloud. Insist that your cloud can be placed in your environment, a data center or the back of a Humvee. No need to change your business need for cloud.

Question 2 – How will you use the cloud?

  • Will the cloud be hosting high-performance transactional data structures?
  • Will the cloud be primarily used for the dissemination/sharing of information?
  • Will the cloud be used as a replication/backup target?
  • How many CPUs and RAM does your application that is targeted for the cloud currently use?  What is the current utilization of those server resources in your physical environment today (broken out by servers, if possible)?

An alternative answer to the questions is to define the virtual machines you would like to have available on the cloud. For example: VM1: 1 vCPU, 2GB RAM, 100GB storage; VM2: 4vCPU, 8GB RAM, 1TB storage, etc.  Be sure to list the quantity of each virtual machine you are looking for. For example: 22 VM1, 12 VM2.

Why is this important?
Cloud resources are often calculated based on the vCPU, not the virtual machine. Remember that a virtual machine is made up of multiple compute resources (processor, ram, storage). You need to define the makeup of your virtual machines; if not, it would be like purchasing a ’physical server‘ for file sharing and ending up with a 16-core / 800 GB RAM / 4 Pb server. Be specific about your needs and allow the cloud provider to meet those requirements.

Question 3 – How much network bandwidth is required to support your cloud?

  • Do you require a dedicated network circuit, or can you share?
  • Does the network circuit need to be NIPR or SIPR?

Why is this important?
Network bandwidth will be a cost burden that grows as you expand your cloud functionality. Make sure that your cloud service provider has multiple circuits at their facility. Remember, the more network providers that are within a facility (i.e. AT&T, Sprint, L3, etc), the lower the connectivity price.

Question 4 – What type of data will be stored in your cloud?

  • Will the data be transactional: small/rapid read/write?
  • Will the data be video?
  • Will the data be large images?
  • Will the data be typical office automation files?
  • What level of security is required on your files?

Why is this important?
The type of data is critical to providing the correct type of storage. It is like living on St. Lawrence Island, Alaska (Bering Sea) and owning a Bugatti Veyron (267 MPH). You can certainly purchase expensive, high-speed storage, but if the island roads are all dirt and only 22 miles long, what is the point?  Define the quantities of storage for high performance and high capacity, and purchase the appropriate cloud drive resource. The level of security is critical to Federal customers. FIPS 140-2 is a must.

Question 5 – What services are critical to your operation?

  • What services do you currently run within your environment that is targeted for the cloud?
  • Of these services, which service/services cannot be unavailable for more than five minutes?
  • Of the services, which service/services can be unavailable for up to 30 minutes?

Why is this important?
Services are defined as the functionality you seek with the cloud. For example, email, files, custom applications, etc. Be very clear on the services and the time that the services can be unavailable. See two of my other blog postings on this topic [Make cloud functional — understanding the services in your IT environment; Leveraging cloud advantages – understanding IT basics].

Next week, we’ll discuss the last five of the Top 10 questions in Part 2For more details on these Top 10 questions or the Dell Cloud for U.S. Government and Dell cloud solutions, follow us on Twitter at @DellServices and/or @JeffreyLush.