The worldwide public cloud services market is projected to grow about 16.5% in 2016 to total $204 billion, up from $175 billion in 2015, according to Gartner. The enormous growth has set off a war over which company can offer the most appealing prices, features and benefits to attract the most customers the fastest.
While choosing the right cloud provider depends primarily on which services and support best match a company’s environment and needs, there are certain features that can make a cloud solution more appealing. Given the variety of offerings from the four largest cloud providers, which features really matter to SMBs?
According to a recent Cisco survey, SMBs want guarantees on security, high reliability, and support levels. Pricing was also a key consideration.
Clutch, a Washington, DC-based research firm, recently surveyed IT professionals at medium and large enterprises in the US to determine the value of cloud computing in the enterprise market. The majority of respondents said security was the most important aspect of a cloud solution, which makes sense given the huge rise in security concerns over the last year or so. Cloud Security Alliance, meanwhile, conducted a survey that found trust in cloud services is now on par with on-premises solutions. Yet like the Clutch survey, respondents indicated security was the primary consideration when choosing a provider.
Sahand Sojoodi, who runs an early-stage tech company, recently shared his story with CIO Dive, providing an insider look at what he considered when moving to the cloud. Though all companies will have different priorities and needs, Sojoodi chose AWS as his cloud provider for his computing, database and storage requirements. Sojoodi said security was definitely an important aspect of AWS’ offering.
“Security is very important to me,” said Sojoodi. “AWS' default security ‘recipes’ are sufficiently stringent, and I know we could make them even tighter if needed.”
The cost of cloud
Cisco’s survey also indicated that business owners want to see a clear business case that articulates how cloud services could save money over their current solutions.
Sojoodi agreed, but said pricing was important only to a point, because moving to the cloud was cheaper for his company anyway.
“But once you choose cloud-based infrastructure as a paradigm, the pricing of various vendors is fairly similar so we became less price-sensitive,” he added. “Also, because the nature of cloud pricing is variable, it's really cheap in the early days of a business -- completely insignificant compared to payroll or rent, for example. Once the business grows to a point that the cloud costs become significant, hopefully that means the business is doing really well. In my opinion, only when you can spare $200,000 or more on infrastructure engineers should you consider moving off the cloud.”
Service needs (or lack of need)
In addition to security and cost, services were another key consideration among SMBs when selecting a cloud provider.
Sojoodi said while services are important to him, he’s actually never engaged Amazon on services, despite the fact that he’s used AWS with various companies he’s been involved with within the context of consumer apps (mobile and web) as well as enterprise/SAAS since 2007.
“I know the ecosystem is mature, but due to their excellent documentation and our internal capabilities, we haven't had the need for official Amazon service providers,” he said.
Overall, Sojoodi said his biggest reasons for choosing AWS was the “completeness of the overall solution.”
“I know that Amazon has all the offerings I'd want to have as a cloud hosting solution provider,” he said. “The whole solution is easy to ramp up. The documentation is excellent and there is excellent technical community support and coverage on the Internet. The labor ecosystem is mature, so I don't and will not feel the skills shortage. I can always find good DevOps people if needed.”