Making the most of G-Cloud

Jake Madders, co-founder and director of Hyve Managed Hosting, outlines some crib sheet questions to ask every cloud provider

The digital marketplace lists a wide range of cloud providers, offering public sector organisations choice, expertise and technical capabilities. But how do you separate the good from the average? What makes the difference between an ideal partner with just the right experience and a service provider who can’t guarantee service or provision?

Choices like these can make or break a cloud project, add huge value or cause serious delay and frustration. There are a range of key areas that most cloud projects will touch on in one way or another, and ensuring the providers in the mix are right for your needs is vital.

Here are six major areas to explore - focusing on an effective way to understand experience, pricing, skillset and service levels, among others. Think of this as a crib sheet of questions to help make the best cloud provider choices.

Technical capabilities
In choosing a cloud supplier, there are some key areas to focus on to really understand levels of technical expertise.

What are the proven technical capabilities of the provider? Are there any gaps in their skillset? How much in-house expertise do they have? If partners are involved, what is the nature of the partnership and can they demonstrate how technical excellence is shared across their teams? Are all the technical capabilities you need already in place, or will they be adding extras to deliver your project?

Focused experience is often a key factor in successful project delivery. Providers might have great general or related experience, but the more specific the better.

Do they have strong experience in your sector and with your type of project? Can they supply you with customer references that illustrate their track record? Have they experienced any serious service delivery issues or failures in the past?

Project/service delivery
Service providers rely on teamwork to deliver specialised knowledge and technology, and their project management skills will always be put to the test.

Can they give examples of where they have delivered projects/services on time and on budget? What is their project management process and is it compatible with your needs?

Sometimes they are a must have and often they provide that extra level of reassurance and confidence. Either way, it’s important to understand their accreditations and qualifications.

Do they have the right accreditations, certifications and governance standards in place to meet your needs?

Service and support
Great service and support is right up there with design, delivery and implementation, but can also be challenging to assess.

Where do their support services begin and end? What don’t they offer as standard? How do they provide support outside of normal working hours? What is the support process, and do they provide dedicated staff? What support systems and processes do they have in place to deal with the unexpected and unlikely?

Competitive, fair and clear pricing is important for any organisation, but scrutiny of public sector spend is always a hot topic – and for very good reasons.

How do they demonstrate pricing clarity and transparency? How do they monitor and manage third party costs? Are there any scenarios where additional costs may be incurred which fall outside of their normal boundaries?

Understanding these important areas can help build your perspective on the capabilities of each cloud provider, and how they compare against each other. Clearly it’s just as important to dig into the precise needs of your project, but having a foundation to your discussions can help move the process along with clarity and precision.

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