Questions You Should Ask Your Cloud Provider

By Mike Vilimek

The shift from complex and costly on-premise business software to flexible and more cost-effective cloud solutions is not only underway, it’s inevitable. The business advantages both in terms of cost and functionality are simple too great to ignore. Whether it’s HCM, ERP, or CX, businesses will continue to shift away from managing on-premise versions of these systems to cloud solutions. 

But are all cloud solutions the same? Certainly not. So how do you choose? Let’s take a look at some of the differences and also what questions you should be asking your next potential cloud provider.

New & Small Providers: Some cloud providers are so new and small that your worst fears about having your sensitive data stored on a server in some guy’s garage might actually be true. Plus, the newer and smaller a provider is, the less likely they will be able to integrate with other systems let alone offer a complete cloud solution themselves.

Old & Large Providers: You may feel safer going with a larger more mature provider, but again, you must ask, do they provide a complete cloud solution, or just pieces of it? For many of the biggest brands in enterprise software, the truth is, their cloud offerings are incomplete, dramatically so in many cases. 

Also, often what these providers have done is take their old on-premise solutions, run them in a private cloud environment, and make them available on a subscription basis. The result is an old (1980s architecture) on-premise solution with mind-boggling complexity that was never re-architected or normalized in any way, now running as a hosted solution. Sound appealing? I think not.

1st Generation Cloud Providers: These include some of the first cloud providers on the scene. The problem is, they haven’t modernized in a very long time. Their cloud model still requires their largest customers and their smallest customers to be on the same application. While this lowers the provider’s cost, it limits the options for customers. 

For example, customers are forced to upgrade when the provider decides. There is no choice. If the provider’s upgrade schedule happens to fall within a critical business timeframe, that’s too bad. Everyone gets upgraded at the same time.

Completeness is also unlikely. Most do not provide a complete cloud solution that includes all your business needs like HCM, ERP, and CRM. They are often specialized in just one. This results in the need for multiple providers and costly integrations if they’re possible at all.

Security can also be an issue as almost all 1st generation cloud providers co-mingle all customer data in one monolithic database, often with little choice of where the data is physically stored. 

So what question you should ask your next cloud provider? 

  • Data Secruity:
    • How many data centers do you have around the globe?
    • Is my data co-mingled in one database with all your other customers?
    • Can my data be kept within country boundaries?
  • Completeness
    • How many cloud business applications do you provide?
    • Can you provide connected cloud solutions for all my business needs (HCM, ERP, CX)?
  • Social, Mobile, & Analytics
    • Is social and mobile embedded into your applications?
    • Can users get the personalized insight they need?
    • Can users access the applications from any device, anytime, anywhere?

For more detailed questions you should ask your provider, check out the cloud provider checklist.

Learn more in this short video titled ‘Get Smart About SaaS and Cloud’

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Mike Vilimek is an experienced technology professional and an active blogger, presenter, and thought leader on topics including recruiting and HR technology. As the Director, HCM Product Marketing at Oracle, Mike is responsible for defining global positioning and messaging for Oracle HCM solutions. Prior to joining Oracle, Mike led the product marketing teams at Talemetry, a recruiting technology provider and Oracle Platinum Partner, and data analytics provider ACL Services. Mike has been a frequent presenter at HR Technology events and webinars and has most recently presented at Oracle CloudWorld 2014, Oracle Open World 2013, the OHUG Annual Conference, and Collaborate.

Mike graduated from Simon Fraser University with a business degree in Marketing and International Business and was a member of the SFU Football team. Following graduation, Mike had a 7-year professional football career in the Canadian Football League (CFL). Follow him on Twitter: @MikeVilimek


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