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Choosing small biz clouds: Criteria and vendors

Most small businesses can leverage cloud-based solutions easily, because they haven’t invested heavily in legacy infrastructure, as larger organizations have. That segment is highly desirable for cloud providers, because the small business is the fastest growing segment in the business industry; they don’t have the challenging corporate protocols found in medium to enterprise businesses, according to software consultant Dr. Sheryl Kitchen, who’s worked in senior management positions with NetApp, Oracle Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc.

In our recent conversation, Kitchen suggested cloud evaluation questions specifically for small businesses. She then shared her views on the best cloud platforms for small businesses. Core questions for getting to know a cloud provider should include:

  • Does the cloud provider offer strategic value and do they have proven products and offerings that you can trust?
  • Does the cloud provider have expertise in integration or provide integration services?
  • Does the cloud provider have a “try and buy model” and can they rapidly deploy the service beyond the try and buy period?
  • Can the cloud provider’s solution scale as the small business grows?
  • As a subset of scalability, can the cloud provider manage your business data requirements and in the manner appropriate for your type of business?
  • Is the cloud offering just hosting or is it true multi-tenant service?

Which cloud providers measure up to this basic selection criteria list? Kitchen’s first choices are AWS and Informatica.

Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud has provided a true multi-tenant solution along with integration services, Kitchen said. “They also offer a try-and-buy model,” she said. Scalability is an AWS strength, as it has greater compute power and geographic distribution than any provider. Also, AWS provides cost-effective data storage and data storage management for small businesses with its Simple Storage Service or DynamoDB products.

Informatica Cloud offers a true multi-tenant solution and tiers of services for various business needs, Kitchen said. She’s evaluated and gives high marks to Informatica’s integration capabilities, provided through native and PowerExchange, which help small businesses connect on-premise to cloud applications and business data.

“For a small business, the cloud can be the most efficient delivery system for their products or solutions,” said Kitchen. Just be sure to ask the right questions.

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