Nowadays, most IaaS cloud hosting providers will offer some form of free trial of their services. In fitting with the self-service nature of IaaS, it has become very easy to “try before you buy” and get a feel for a cloud environment first-hand before you speak to a salesperson or sign up for a paid contract.
(Indeed, here at TeleData we offer cloud trials that can be up and running in minutes!)
However, while this is great on paper, it’s not always as easy for a first-time cloud buyer to know how to make the most of a free cloud hosting trial – not least in the IaaS world, where two services may outwardly look very similar.
Here, then, are some of the key areas we recommend you take the time to explore to make the most of your free cloud hosting trial.
Check for compatibility
A cloud hosting trial gives you the opportunity to find out exactly what you can do with the cloud environment and whether it’s compatible with the applications and workloads you want to move there. You’ll be in a position to review the provider’s support for different operating systems, check whether VMs can be set up to meet application-specific needs, and scope out any redevelopment work you may require.
For more of a detailed insight on this subject, see our blog Moving applications to the cloud: 7 things to consider.
How easy is it to use?
IaaS can sometimes feel like a commodity purchase, but not all cloud environments are created equal. Different providers will offer different management tools and features, and a cloud hosting trial is the ideal opportunity to evaluate which toolset fits your particular requirement and level of expertise.
The ease of use of a cloud management tool may not sound like a deal-breaker, but it’s important to consider what effect it’ll have on the day-to-day running of your business. In some extreme cases, there may be implications for your skills and resource requirements.
Some other questions to explore include:
- Are there pre-built VM templates you can spin up in a matter of seconds, or do you need to configure new VMs from scratch every time?
- Can you easily clone and catalogue existing VMs?
- What’s the backup and restore process like?
Other powerful features to look for include load balancing, firewalls, VPNs and NAT. Check whether these are present and, again, how easy they are to use.
How well does it perform?
Naturally, you should use a free trial to ensure the cloud environment works as expected. For some buyers, it may even be worth replicating some or all of your current environment to test performance.
We’d recommend using a cloud hosting trial not only to check that your required functionality carries across, but also to stress-test, and see how the environment compares to others in terms of the time it takes to access applications or databases, whether the level of latency is acceptable, and whether it meets your requirements around security.
What’s the support like?
Finally, your pre-sales relationship with a cloud provider will tell you a lot about their overall level and quality of support. In undertaking a cloud hosting trial, you’ll have the opportunity to find out how knowledgeable and proactive their support team is, and whether they have the ability or inclination to advise on the best way to use their services for your particular business.
You should aim to find out who you’ll be talking to if you need support as a customer and how close this important working relationship will be, as well as whether they can tailor their support to meet the specific needs of your business.