What’s Your Criteria for a Cloud Provider?

A panel of ISVs reveals very different reasons for selecting their cloud provider.

For software hosted in a cloud environment, the most critical decision an ISV can make is selecting the cloud provider. With companies such as Amazon, Google, Microsoft, IBM, and Oracle as options, ISVs have great choices — perhaps too many. How do you decide between one or the other? Once you’ve decided, how often do you reevaluate? DevPro Journal spoke with a handful of your peers to get insight into some of these decisions.

The Most Important Factor

There are many reasons to select one provider over another, however, storage, computing power, and security appear to be table stakes. While many ISVs said such aspects were factors in their decision, none told us that they were the most important criteria.

That said, here are some factors ISVs shared that were most important, along with the reason why they made their decision.

Management tools — “When developing an app and hosting, it’s not just about the data. It is a lot the tools that allow you to better manage your application for releases, bugs, scalability, and product features.”

Cost — “The more we can minimize hosting charges, the more profitable the business is.”

Cost — “Scaling up cost needed to be reasonably determinable.”

Brand awareness — “We are small, and Oracle is big and has been around forever.”

Reliability — “Our solution is live at Tier 1 retailers and reliability is critical.”

Reliability — “When your company is only providing a service through the cloud, reliability is the #1 priority.”

Development tools — “We need to constantly change and update our software with new features.”

Other — “We use AWS because we were required to by a partner.”

Other — “We are currently a Microsoft gold partner.”

When it came to these “most important” factors in their decision, I thought we’d see everyone agreeing about one or two. While the ISVs we spoke to could all agree that many factors are important, when it came to the most important aspect, most had their own unique reasons for their ultimate selection.

If you’re in the process of deciding or plan to re-evaluate in the future, you’re going to have to determine what’s most important for your company. Today, it could be cost. In five years, it might be something completely different. Also, since our little panel was so diverse in its thinking, you should proceed with caution when it comes to blanket statements and recommendations from other ISVs, as there’s a good chance they based their decision on something different than you.

Changing Providers

With so many high-quality choices available today, ISVs are in a great position. Still, there might come a day when you want — or need — to make a change. Once you have a partner, moving to another can feel like a daunting task. Most ISVs told us that they’d re-evaluate providers only if they have issues. A couple said they would re-evaluate every year. One told us that they are constantly adjusting, shifting loads between AWS and Azure as the pricing changes for their compute.

We spoke to four ISVs who recently switched providers. Each had their own reason for making the change — cost, brand awareness of the new provider, access to development tools, and a pricing model that aligned with the ISV’s.

A couple of the ISVs shared that the process went smoothly, but took too long. Another shared that they spent a lot of time planning and working on pre-migration (from co-lo to cloud), which helped a great deal. Certainly, such a move should not be taken lightly, and good planning is key.

This informal poll reveals just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to evaluating cloud providers. In the coming months, you’ll be hearing from ISVs who will share their success stories (and nightmares), along with key learnings. If you have your own story to share about your experiences with the cloud, we’d love to hear from you (on or off the record). 

Datacap Systems
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The former owner of a software development company and having more than a decade of experience writing for B2B IT solution providers, Mike is co-founder of DevPro Journal.