CSPs, it’s a race!!

And now you got a companion to help you WIN !!

RightCloudz has unveiled its latest offering — CompareNow Cloud Discovery Service — a platform where Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) can showcase their products to catch the attention of enterprises who are looking for the kind of service a CSP may be offering.

RightCloudz’ CompareNow Cloud Discovery platform helps CSPs to get noticed by classifying their services in categories that describe the offering best, rather than keeping all in one bag in a mixed form or putting them in a long list as shown in many search results! CSPs may choose to be shown as featured CSPs, which is limited in number, and thus can claim the pole-position in the mind of a business leader. The look and feel has been captured in Figure-1 below.


CSPs can also use the platform to set up a micro-site which would provide refined information in concise form for quick absorption. The micro-site is an important feature of the platform which helps CSPs to deliver key messages to its target audience, who are generally decision makers and senior executives, in a very short span of attention that might be given! The URL can be bookmarked for easy reference in future, and can be forwarded to someone seeking information. Figure-2 is a screen capture of one such micro-site.


RightCloudz’ CompareNow Cloud Discovery platform will also help the enterprises, the consumers of cloud services, to

  • discover CSPs those are offering the services they need (Figure-1),
  • see important information in a concise form in a micro-site (Figure-2), and
  • do a quick comparison of the features of a service offered by up to three CSPs (Figure-3 below).



So CSPs, why wait? Please visit the portal, explore and experience the strength of the platform. If you have a query, you could write back using the link given in the portal.

Click here to go to the portal.

Leveraging Cloud for Disaster Recovery Services

Did you ever wonder why there is so much excitement around the phrase “DR Service from cloud”? What does that actually mean? What are the expectations?

Well, then you might want to read the article on the subject at Meghvaani, Newsletter of the Cloud Computing Innovation Council of India (CCICI), Volume I, Issue 1.

Let us leverage cloud in ways that make it efficient in handling IT requirements to fulfill business objectives of an enterprise.

International Workshop on Cloud Computing and IoT


There is an interesting workshop coming up in Bangalore on Cloud Computing and Cyber Physical Systems, organized by Cloud Computing Innovation Council of India (CCICI) in collaboration with National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), US Department of Commerce, from 6th to 8th June, 2016.

It would be a great opportunity to hear eminent speakers from NIST, Cloud Security Alliance, Department of Electronics and Information Technology, Government of India, and from the field of research and IT. Read more.

RightCloudz in Convergence-2016


Themed with Digital Business: New Frontiers in Management, Convergence-2016 organized by IFIM Business School, Bangalore from February 4-6, 2016 offered the platform to RightCloudz Technologies to show how one can derive optimum values from the cloud resources. Return on Investments (RoI) is something that all enterprises keep a watch on. One of the strategies to enhance cloud RoI is to make intelligent choices of third-party tools and add-ons.

Should third-party add-ons be looked into after committing to a service of a Cloud Service Provider, or should that be part of cloud selection process? How do we evaluate third-party add-ons? — Do the questions sound familiar?! Then take look at the paper “Disruption in Cloud RoI due to third-party add-ons” which looks into these issues and suggests a model. Read the abstract

Download the paper.
Read about Convergence-2016.


It is important to evaluate cloud services before purchasing

Intended Audience: CxOs, Other IT decision makers

Coffee with Steve

It was a Friday afternoon in late 2013, when we reached the CEO’s office of ABC corporation (name changed), to share what we have been championing — Cloud Evaluation as a Service, and to learn from their experience as they had recently started using the cloud to increase the capacity of their data center.

Steve (name changed) is the Group CEO of ABC corporation having many verticals. They recently signed a big contract for delivering a year-long corporate training program which required a significantly expanded data center to deliver the program efficiently. Instead of adding new physical capacity to their existing in-premise data center, Steve decided to use public cloud services from a major vendor. 

Alex, an IT manager in Steve’s team, had prepared a detailed proposal using which Steve could make his decision about going to a public cloud vendor. The proposal was based on several important requirements that need to be considered while selecting the public Cloud Service Provider (CSP) for their requirements. Let’s look at some of those requirements.

As many training modules were developed in .NET, they initially thought that one of the major cloud vendors supporting .NET would be the natural home for them. After some research they discovered that cloud services from this vendor were still maturing, remember it was sometime in December, 2013; moreover, this vendor’s cloud support could not respond convincingly to many of their queries. This prompted Alex to consider another major CSP with a huge market share to understand the services they offered. This second vendor, being one of the leaders in cloud service offerings, had solutions for all technical requirements of ABC corporation. The overall cost of computing resources also looked reasonable to Alex. Finally, they considered two other vendors, reviewed their capabilities and attempted to match them to their requirements and business priorities before making a final purchasing decision. 

Based on the internal review and the proposal from Alex, Steve decided to start their journey into the cloud with one of the biggest CSPs in the business. What Steve didn’t realize is that while Alex did a reasonable job comparing CSPs, he also relied on an old adage that said ‘no one gets fired for recommending IBM’s servers’. Alex adopted that adage to cloud and transformed it to say that ‘no one will get fired for recommending one of the leaders of Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for public cloud services’.  ABC corporation expanded its capability through cloud; delivery of training modules started for the major new contract and Alex’s recommendation and efforts were very much appreciated.

Then came a bolt from the blue! The monthly bill for compute resources, which was estimated to be around $1500, was almost touching $2000 — 33% more than expected! This was a major crisis considering upcoming expansions, and Steve started wondering if he did the right thing relying only on Alex’s internal recommendations while selecting the CSP. 

Steve and Alex got into a detailed analysis of the billed items to see what caused the surge and how they can manage these costs better. 

Lessons Learnt

  1. Their analysis showed that the unplanned excess in billing was caused largely by their applications exceeding the allotted IOPS (I/O per sec) thresholds. Their chosen CSP billed its customers for IOPS, even though this is something which is generally not in a customer’s control. Even plain vanilla instances with just the OS installed on it can have significantly large IOPS (possibly triggered by OS updates etc.), thereby causing possible billing surges. 
  2. Since the in-house IT team did not understand the cloud billing model well, they did not shutdown the ‘not-in-use’ instances, incorrectly assuming that ‘not-in-use’ also implies ‘not-to-be-billed’. 
  3. Again, due to lack of experience with cloud storage, they were using the most expensive form of online storage available when most of their needs could have been met by less expensive archival storage.
  4. Steve concluded that he should have used a professional, unbiased evaluation agency to help him select the best CSP for his requirements – one that felt no need to stick to any adage !

An SOS from Adrian

It was a Sunday morning in the summer of 2014. I got an intriguing call from Adrian, the CEO of a successful enterprise. “How do you say that these cloud services are elastic? And here, we have lost data of two days!” — Adrian wanted an explanation for something I did not have any context for.

After calming him down and talking to him for a few minutes, I got the complete picture. Adrian was very upset that business critical data captured by the thousands of sensors across different geographical regions of his business were not being recorded consistently by his application servers. This was absolutely critical for his business analytics service to be useful to his customers. 

The main issue was that their instances were consuming the allotted quota on the Solid State Drive (SSD) storage and the data received on Friday and Saturday evening could not be saved. In fact, one particular week, the SSD limit was reached on Friday evening itself and the issue was discovered only on Saturday night when the automated weekly summary of activities showed several error messages!

On top of it, when they contacted their cloud vendor for additional SSD storage space, they were told to move to a new instance with more SSD space to get a contiguous space; the process took extra time making their downtime longer.

They had made their decision to go with this vendor based on the suggestion from their IT Manager, Samuel who had recommended this particular vendor ONLY for its very simple and easy to understand pricing model. However, not considering many other factors that are critical while making cloud purchasing decisions was making them run into unexpected issues. 

Lessons Learnt

  1. Only one factor was considered before selecting the cloud vendor when other important factors like supportability, elasticity and ease of use should have been considered. 
  2. Notifications and messaging were not setup correctly for exception situations. 
  3. They had incorrectly assumed that sufficient resources had been provisioned for development and production environments and both were deployed within the same cloud configuration.


While most CxOs understand and follow extensive processes – including evaluation – when it comes to, say, hardware procurement, when it comes to cloud resource procurement, required due diligence is often not done – perhaps because of the thought that it would easy to switch to another cloud if one does not work.

In the case of Steve, they should have understood every aspect of the vendor’s billing process, instead of getting surprised after already committing their investments to that vendor. They should have realized that correcting cloud purchasing decisions can be expensive and its better to get a professional evaluation done to minimize risk.

In case of Adrian, some of their basic assumptions costed them dearly. The amount of storage required is a function of the rate at which the data is captured and the number of days those data should be kept in the online storage can’t be left on some assumption. In this case a cloud consultant or a cloud expert or even a solution architect from the cloud service provider could have helped in better scoping the requirements.


  • Steve decided to migrate to another public cloud service provider to rein in operating cost and moved out of their first “cloud home” within one year.
  • Adrian separated out their deployment environment and enabled important monitoring and alert features from day one in the new deployment platform.

These are real case studies. The names of the persons and the companies have been altered at their request. 


Demystifying Hybrid Cloud – Part 1

Intended Audience: Senior Technical Staff, Managers, CxOs

[1] What are hybrid clouds? Why do they exist?

Hybrid clouds are a set of technologies that is being widely adopted as a bridge between existing in-premise data centers and the fast growing public cloud ecosystem. Companies and large enterprises with massive investments in in-premise data centers are using hybrid cloud technologies to keep deriving value from their existing investments as well as benefit from the efficiencies that public clouds offer. It has also become clear that while public cloud adoption continues to increase rapidly, they cannot replace existing, proven in-house systems and processes entirely within a short period of time. In such an environment, hybrid clouds are providing a convenient mechanism for enterprises to try out the public clouds and adopt them in a phased manner if found fit for their application environments. 

CTO and CIOs in large enterprises are continuously looking at ways to increase process efficiency, improve scalability of their applications and IT resources, and ways to reduce IT capital expenditure for  short to mid-term requirements. They can see that public clouds vendors are fast building in all the technology and operational capabilities they need for such requirements. At the same time, they are also concerned about moving their entire application environment to a public cloud since it ‘seems’ to be outside their immediate areas of control and management. Some of them also believe that if there is a serious problem, they may not have the ability to resolve it since the infrastructure is now ‘outside’ their environment.

Since there is some element of truth to these concerns, hybrid clouds provide an excellent way to integrate the public cloud infrastructure into their existing environments so some of these concerns can be mitigated to a large extent. Hybrid Clouds are enabling the CxOs to retain control over their existing environments in a way they are familiar with and at the same time let them take advantage of the significant benefits that public cloud based infrastructure provides. 

In a nutshell, instead of creating disconnected silos of computing infrastructure, the CxOs are using hybrid cloud bridges to seamlessly integrate their in-house data center with the public cloud infrastructure. Public cloud vendors are also providing excellent capabilities to enable such an integration. We will take a look at some of these capabilities in Part 2 of this article. 

[2] A Few applications of Hybrid cloud technologies

For us to appreciate the applications and usefulness of hybrid cloud strategy, let us review a few known computing challenges and see how these challenges are being handled very well in a hybrid cloud environment.

A common pattern that is seen in many hybrid cloud applications is that first, the application workloads start with consuming in-house data center resources (typically compute); when the limits of computing resources is reached (virtual machines or jobs/requests in queue), on-demand instances in a pre-configured public cloud are created if there is a perceived loss of businessPerceived loss of business for an online e-commerce store could be losing its customer to its competitors and for a product company it would be like missing the deadline and thus ceding the market to competitors. 

Once the on-demand resources have been created and setup in the cloud, it just looks like an extension of the existing in-premise resources and then computing jobs/requests can be sent there to be serviced. Let’s look at some real scenarios where hybrid clouds have proven their usefulness. 

  • Running long regression tests before code check-in
    (Cloud Scenario: Test environment, Dev-ops)
    In a typical development cycle of an enterprise class product, 80% of transactions come to land (on the code base) in last few weeks! All developers submit a long list of test cases to the test-farm (a cluster of powerful servers on which requested tests are scheduled to run) and wait for the test results hoping to see a “clean test run” so they can merge their changes into on the code base. In many instances, first run is never “clean”, requiring developers to fix the issue(s) and rerun all required test cases again. As a result we often see long queues to get the test run completed, which may potentially result in the developer missing the dreaded “code freeze” deadline!

    A hybrid cloud based test environment is best suited to manage such peak demands that occur with regular frequency, but last for only a short period of time.  If a hybrid environment has been pre-configured, tests can be scheduled on the new short-term instances created on-demand in a public cloud infrastructure — thus significantly reducing the waiting time for developers to complete their test cycles. 
  • Handling seasonal spikes on an e-commerce site
    (Cloud Scenario: Retail application hosting, Online store)
    Several e-commerce stores record almost 80% of their annual turnover around the holiday season or major festivals and sales. Again since the demand peaks occur frequently, but not continuously, hybrid clouds provide the best mechanism to handle them without investing heavily in infrastructure that lies unused during off-peak periods.With close monitoring of the demand in real-time, and the consequent increase in wait-time for the customers, the e-commerce store can decide to move a set of the items to be sold from the newly set-up on-demand instance on a public cloud, thereby distributing the load more efficiently and resulting in happier customers who can complete their purchases faster.
  • Handling unprecedented load during flash sale of airline tickets
    (Cloud Scenario: Online ticket booking)
    To boost the top-line and to “acquire” new set of loyal customers, most budget airlines offer flash sales for a short period. Many times this kind of sale by one airline triggers announcements of sales by competitors — and in some instances, even the market leaders can not ignore the sale announced by a new entrant! Any airline that introduces such sales expects to see heavy customer load in a very short period of time and its vital for them to be ready to handle the sudden, short-term jump in potential customers.Such flash sales can result in unpredictable loads and no amount of planning may be enough to ensure enough compute and network resources when needed. Indeed, we have seen instance where flash sale sites become inaccessible to a large customer base, thereby defeating the very purpose of such a sale. In order to avoid potential loss of customers, goodwill and real business, travel companies can  adopt a hybrid model where additional resources can be quickly setup to handle peak loads during flash sales and scaled down again when not needed. This would allow them to grow their business without incurring a huge cost on setting up compute infrastructure that gets used intermittently.
  • Providing additional computing power to track a Tsunami
    (Cloud Scenario: Virtual Data Center, Big Data & Analytics)
    While the Met department of the government has got very powerful in-house servers, during Tsunamis, Cyclones, Hurricanes, etc. it requires additional computing power to run and re-run its weather modelling algorithms to determine the path of the impact – which can change many times in a few minutes – so affected people can be warned and evacuated. Also, after the impact, people across the world want to access the main  site for information about the event, causing the main site to be almost non-responsive because of unpredictable load. Redistributing this load to a set of public cloud resources using hybrid technologies is a good way to manage modelling as well as user loads during major weather events.

In the next part of this article, we shall highlight some of the hybrid cloud solutions and technologies that are in common use and also review some of the pitfalls to avoid while setting up a hybrid cloud  environment. 

It makes sense to relook at corporate cloud strategy time to time!

Intended Audience: CxOs and other IT decision makers

We have seen recent news items where an established cloud based businesses switches out from one of the leading cloud vendors to one that is not in the top 2-3 of the leader’s board. This kind of news often create a lot of noise and confusion that eclipses the opportunity to look at such developments pragmatically, and to learn from them.

When Hostnet Brazil, a cloud hosting and solution provider, made it public that they had decided to switch over to the infrastructure provided by CloudFlare by the end of 2015 for their entire network in Brazil, many in the industry were surprised and everyone was eager to know the prime reason. Hostnet found that with CloudFlare, web pages of their customers in Brazil loaded, on average, almost 2x faster! (Read more)

In case of Marks & Spencer, Britain’s largest clothing retailer, the company decided in early Feb 2014 to create a new platform for their websites. Marks & Spencer’s websites until then were running on an Amazon AWS provided platform since 2007. It drew attention as M&S decided to switch out of AWS public cloud and to set up own private cloud platform after 7 years of association with AWS. M&S said in its statement that the move was inline with its new “multi-channel” retailer strategy and that it would complement its e-commerce initiatives as a means to reverse the decline in market share of its business. (Read more)

What became obvious from the above cases is, the enterprises using public cloud services need not remain forever with the cloud service provider they selected in the first place. In fact, it is important for every business to review their cloud providers with regular frequency and plan to switch if one finds a significantly better vendor offering better services at better costs.

This is not a new concept since companies are used to doing hardware refreshes for their in-premise data centers regularly. There is no reason why the same process should not be applied to resources being used from the cloud.

Clearly changing a cloud service provider for valid reasons is not a bad thing and in fact, may be good for business. Let us try to identify some early triggers (other than just time) when an active re-assessment of the current cloud services may be required:

  1. Changes in business requirements and/or priorities and the inability of the current cloud service provider to fulfill the requirement(s) within a given budget.
  2. Availability of new technology; new/distinctive capabilities that a cloud service provider offers (e.g. Speed – in the case of CloudFlare).
  3. Non availability of a new platform, for a new solution, in the existing offerings of the current Cloud Service Provider (as in the case of Marks & Spencer).
  4. New business/service expansion strategy (as in the case of Marks & Spencer).
  5. Changes in Government policy and regulations, e.g. sensitive data to reside within in-country data centers.
  6. A business deal resulting in reduction in operating cost, or a partnership deal to utilize services from each other’s offerings.
  7. Merger and acquisitions requiring better utilization of the combined cloud resources.
  8. Withdrawal of services, changes in key engagement terms by the current provider, or  deterioration of service quality.

Finally, an ongoing review of the cloud strategy is, in fact, a healthy sign that the enterprise is continuously measuring its operational efficiciencies, cloud ROI and then taking the corrective action as needed.

Cloud Migration – It’s not the spec only!

Intended Audience: Senior Managers/CxOs

Have you ever tried to evaluate an iPhone only by hardware specifications? Probably not. What makes iPhone stand out from its peers (in a similar price range) is not the hardware specifications only, but the “user experience” — the reliability of the device and the software, the performance, the applications, the ease of use, the services, the ecosystem, and so on.

No, we are not evaluating mobile phones here, but trying to draw a parallel to drive the point in. For a cloud service, it is not just the amount of memory or disk space or the type of processor or network bandwidth that matters, but also the up-time, network latency (edge locations), ease of use of manageability software, availability of 3rd party services/ applications (maturity of the ecosystem), support services and so on will also be important factors in moving to cloud.

So, how does one go about selecting a Cloud Service Provider and migrating to cloud? Well, this process generally consists of multiple phases and one or more steps in each phase. These steps can be grouped into the following five broad phases:

  • Assessment and scoping phase: Steps 1 to 3
  • Cloud Service Provider (CSP) selection phase: Step 4
  • Planning and migration phase: Steps 5 & 6
  • Post migration live testing and go-live phase: Step 7
  • Review and Revisit Cloud Strategy phase:  Steps 8 & 9

Assessment and scoping phase: Steps 1 to 3

Step 1: Identify and document all business and technical requirements. It is very important to be clear on each area that a CSP or it’s services need to reviewed on.

  1. It helps to start by documenting the usage scenario – what kind of application or workload is intended to be run on the cloud? Is it for development or for deployment of a production system?
  2. Next, list all the software services required in the cloud in addition to listing all the commercial, open source or custom software to be installed on the instance.
  3. Finally, list all the specific requirements with their relative importance or priorities.

Key players: CTO/ CIO, data-center manager, CFO (for budgeting/ operating cost).
Output: Detailed requirements document.
Duration: 1-2 weeks.

Step 2: Apply essential or key requirements to create the first shortlist of CSPs to be analyzed. Some of the key requirements could be, (a) geo specific data centers, (b) certifications required for infrastructure, applications; e.g. security certifications, certification for healthcare services, etc., (c) payment options and currency, (d) availability of support engineer during local working hours, and so on.

Key players: CTO/ CIO.
Output: List of key requirements with explanations.
Duration: 1-2 weeks.

Step 3: This is a very important and highly technical phase. The sizing of instances, based on requirements, is finalized in this step along with the list of software that needs to be provisioned. It should be noted at this stage that the resource requirement of each essential software may influence the overall instance sizing requirement. This phase should ideally done by a cloud architect or solution expert and if no in-house expertise available, we recommend getting external consultants to help with this critical phase. 

Key players: Cloud architect, CTO/ CIO.
Output: A detailed cloud architecture document along with a list of required software and applications.
Duration: 2-3 weeks (might be more for a complex environment).

Cloud Service Provider (CSP) selection phase: Step 4

Step 4: The organization may create a RFP and contact shortlisted CSPs to respond to the same, and in addition to that work with a trusted, unbiased cloud evaluation agency to help select the best cloud vendor from the shortlisted list.

Key players: Cloud consultant, representatives of CSP, CTO/ CIO; Cloud evaluation agency
Output: A detailed report on CSPs with ranking and analysis based on your requirements (*)
Duration: 2-4 weeks.

Planning and migration phase: Steps 5 & 6

Step 5: Once the CSP has been selected, a detailed migration, deployment and support plan needs to be prepared. This phase can be done by in-house data center experts or by external cloud integrators and migration experts who understand the chosen CSPs ecosystem very well. Typically, a structured “Cloud delivery” team needs to be formed that would

  • Plan and execute the cloud migration in phases
  • Define project governance
  • Arrange required training for employees (on how to use) and for IT staff (on how to manage and support the new cloud environment)
  • Test and certify the cloud environment when it is ready for use

Key players: Cloud experts/ architects, CSI/ IT staff, CTO/ CIO.
Output: Cloud migration/ adoption plan, “Cloud delivery” team, rule book for cloud governance, cloud training calendar, and cloud environment readiness certification criteria.
Duration: 2-3 weeks.

In case there is a requirement for hybrid cloud environment to be set up, some additional parameters need to be taken into consideration. A hybrid cloud deployment could potentially be a complex process, but if planned well can give significant benefits to organizations looking to continue deriving value from their existing IT investments. (We shall talk about hybrid cloud deployment in another article.)

Step 6: Execution is the mantra at this step. The tasks as identified in step-5 are executed.

Key players: CSI/ IT staff, “Cloud delivery” team, cloud users of the organization.
Output: A cloud enabled working environment, cloud literate employees, cloud administrators (from IT staff).
Duration: 6-12 weeks (depending upon the complexity of the environment).

Post migration live testing and go-live phase: Step 7

Step 7: Testing of the live production system and go-live to users. This is an essential phase to ensure that no functionality regression has been introduced during the migration and also to ensure that all the cloud management and monitoring processes are working as expected.

Key players: All users, Cloud Management team, Cloud Delivery team.
Output: Efficient, cloud enabled environment that meets all business requirements.
Duration: 2-4 weeks for testing and fixing of issues found; continuous use.

Review and Revisit Cloud Strategy phase: Steps 8 & 9

Step 8 This is an optional step, but can prove to be real beneficial. We suggest that this phase kicks in somewhere between one and three years from the initial deployment. This step can be termed as corporate cloud health-check-up where existing cloud services are re-evaluated to check if they are continuing to meet the requirements of the organization’s needs. This step is required to stay current with the advancements in cloud technologies and to take full benefit from those.

Key players: Cloud expert, CTO/ CIO.
Output: A detailed list of areas where the current cloud strategy needs to be re-looked.
Duration: 2-3 weeks.

Step 9:  This step may or may not be required depending on the findings of Step 8. A careful review and decision making process is required to decide when to initiate this step — doing it too early might result in productivity loss and delaying it too much may mean continuing  with dated cloud systems and thus missing out on the benefits of the new advancements in cloud technologies.

Key players: Cloud expert, CTO/ CIO, CFO, CEO.
Output: A repeat of many steps from Phases-I to IV.
Duration: As required.

In summary, the overall “experience” with cloud migration really depends on how well the requirements were identified, and more importantly how well those requirements were fulfilled by the selected Cloud Service Provider. This should not be done casually or with assumption that the migration strategy of another enterprise would also work for the enterprise in question, because each enterprise is unique and has unique requirements, and so a careful evaluation of all aspects and planning is highly recommended.

(*) To see a sample “Cloud service provider recommendation report”, please visit www.rightcloudz.com and use RankCloudz.

Choosing Right IaaS Service Provider for your Enterprise

The choice of cloud infrastructure providers is huge. There are the big providers like Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, Softlayer (now part of IBM), Rackspace, Google Compute Engine, CenturyLink, GoGrid (now part of Datapipe), Dimension Data, CSC and many other vendors vying aggressively for the $20 billion market.

Choosing the right cloud service provider for your needs is not an easy task. This article focuses on the aspect of choosing the right Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) for your organization’s needs.

Having choices is much better than not having choices, however multiple alternatives pose a difficult problem of choosing the right service provider with right features and services at right price. Almost all vendors reduce prices on a regular basis, add new functionality all the time, increase their global spread etc., in a bid to out-manoeuvre each other. Some vendors offer very fine grained compute configurations, reserved instances, spot instances, high IOPS, bare metal infrastructure and some of them even throw in basic platform services along with many other attractive options.

So how can one go about selecting the right cloud service provider for their use case? Many users feel that it is very difficult to evaluate various players and choose the “follow the herd” approach and think it is the safest. Well it may work for some customers by sheer coincidence. However every organization’s requirements-  both near and far term are different, so one cloud fits all may not work in their favor. That brings us to the topic of how one can evaluate all the major public cloud vendors effectively and objectively.

This article discusses how researchers at RightCloudz Technologies solved this complex problem with their unique (patent pending) evaluation engine. The first step in evaluating any product or service is to list out requirements that product or service needs to be met. This is true with respect to evaluating a cloud service provider. Let us take a look at the high level requirements to be met by a cloud service provider that provides infrastructure as a service.


To evaluate cloud service providers objectively and in their entirety, the requirements needs to be broken down into its constituent measurable parameters. Let us take a brief look at some of the major requirements and their constituent high level parameters.

Compute: The heart of IaaS is compute. Some of the major aspects needed to be considered while evaluating compute requirement are capabilities that the vendor provides in offering flexible and extensible compute resources like memory, disk, virtual CPUs, operating systems, on demand /reserved instances, range and granularity of compute configurations.

Data protection: Data protection is a very important requirement as all of customer data is outside their premises and on public cloud infrastructure. Hence making sure that their data is safe and secure is important to the cloud vendor too. From an evaluation perspective, it is important to check how good the vendor is in giving fine grained control access, having encryption at various states, version controls mechanisms, providing audits, logs, and in providing backup/restore of customer data.

Infrastructure and integration: Infrastructure is responsible for making life simple for you and your customers. Some of the key aspects that a customer need to measure are: Can the vendor provide choice for deploying applications close to your users or customers, ensuring the lowest possible latency and best user experience? How well is the connectivity within and across regions? It is also important to measure the service features and capabilities that help customers to easily integrate their existing infrastructure with Cloud. These include data export/import, backup, hybrid clouds, VPN, clustering, gateways etc.

Operating cost: For most enterprises, cost saving is the prime business driver for adopting cloud. However it is very important to consider all cloud infrastructure related cost parameters including compute, storage, network, support, data transfer / connectivity, monitoring etc. Most top vendors have similar pricing for instances for similar configurations. However operational costs include transaction and management costs and that can vary a lot from vendor to vendor. And are varying amounts of free transactions that are provided by each vendor.

Performance: Performance across all services is important for a pure IaaS offering. However based on technical use case that the service is user, an enterprise can lay more emphasis on certain performance parameters than others. Some of the common performance related parameters to consider are high speed connectivity, cache management, network scaling, load balancing, self-healing mechanisms, auto scaling, managing fail-overs, disk i/o etc.

Storage: Storage capabilities are a key part of IaaS offerings, and most vendors try to provide flexible and extensible storage resources like very wide range of disk space, elasticity of disk space, built-in redundancy, variety of storage options including SSD, archival storage etc.

Security & Compliance: While security and compliance have always been important criteria for cloud users, multi tenanted infrastructure poses higher risks. Vendors have features and capabilities that provide varying levels of security in the Cloud infrastructure to data, users, connections, applications including physical & electronic security to data centers. Hence it is important to look at all aspects of security in closer detail.

Compliance to regulatory requirements and certifications are equally important factors to choose the right IaaS vendor. Cloud compliance issues arise as soon as cloud user decides to make use of cloud storage or backup services. By moving data from their internal storage to someone else’s they are forced to examine closely how that data will be kept so that you remain compliant with laws and industry regulations.

Application services: Many IaaS vendors have begun including basic platform services to add capabilities that support application development including pre-configured applications. In addition vendors try to get edge over other vendors by providing versatile set of APIs, toolkits, mobile app support, various media services and other platform related services. It is important to measure and evaluate these aspects based on end user needs.

Understanding RankCloudz

RankCloudz is RightCloudz’s patent pending evaluation engine to help enterprises to evaluate and rank top public service providers. This example illustrates how RankCloudz methodology has been used to evaluate cloud vendor services that provide moving in-premise development and test environments to the cloud.

RankCloudz has a large knowledge database that includes very granular raw data on hundreds of parameters for all the top infrastructure cloud service providers. RankCloudz uses this knowledge base and user inputs on priorities for the above requirements and applies normalization techniques on raw data to compare and contrast various service provider offering to come up with a ranked list of service providers dynamically.

The evaluation process looks at each business and technical requirement required for such a business case in great detail, determines vendor services that support those requirements and then evaluates each feature or attribute of those services. RankCloudz has an on-going process to collect fine-grained data about vendor services and features. This up-to-date data helps RankCloudz to rank all vendors fairly and in an unbiased manner at any point in time.

RankCloudz in use – choosing right vendor for development and test

The versatile RankCloudz evaluation engine can be used to evaluate and rank cloud services providers for various cloud usage scenarios.

As an illustration, the paper shows the results from RankCloudz while choosing the right vendor for software development and test environment. The results are graphically represented in the form of a stacked bar chart as shown below.

Compare IaaS Vendors

Each bar represents a Cloud service provider and their scores against each requirement. In the above evaluation, 13 requirements have been used and scores for each requirement is normalized and stacked as shown in the above graph. The top most bar in each bar graph represents scores of how well the “Application Services” requirement is met by each of the cloud service provider. The next bar represents “Compute” requirement and similarly the rest of the eleven requirements are stacked one below the other to form the score for each cloud service provider. In this example, Amazon AWS ranks first followed by Microsoft Azure.

Here is an example of how the evaluation looks like when only Operating Cost of various vendors is considered. You may notice that priority for “Operating Cost” has been set to 10 and rest are set to zero.

Operating cost comparison

Depending on user’s business and technical needs, the various requirements can be set to priority values ranging from 0 to 10 giving a very fine grained control on specifying relative importance of requirements.

Best way to understand how RankCloudz works is to try it yourself by registering free at


or write to info@RightCloudz.com for more details.