Case study: Finding the perfect cloud partners

Most companies work with multiple cloud providers these days, and have learned the hard way: They’re not all created equal. Where some excel, others have drawbacks that make them less and less appealing over time. So how can you find the best providers more often? 

Tom Soderstrom, innovation officer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), presented his organization’s keys to finding good cloud partners at the recent Consumerization of IT in the Enterprise conference and expo in San Francisco.

Their key: Going in as a team.

Cloud evaluation team

Since JPL used many different providers, it wanted to be sure each provider was able to meet its requirements according to Soderstrom. So they created the Cloud Computing Commodity Board made up of representatives from several departments, including legal, procurement, IT, security, finance, etc.

The group meets quarterly to evaluate potential partners. Each department representative takes a look to see if the vendor can deliver what they’re looking for.

If everyone is satisfied initially, JPL signs contracts with each provider on the shortlist with a ceiling it sets. This way, they get to try out various providers for different services.

Then, every four months, the board evaluates how each provider is doing to see if it’s worth continuing the partnership or not.

Treating it as a commodity

The key, according to Soderstrom, is treating the cloud as it would any other commodity. In this case, that means stakeholders will be interested in making sure they get as much use out of it as possible.

Plus, according to Soderstrom, the investment in the board is minimal. All it takes is a little bit of each representative’s time four times a year to be sure that the cloud providers are working well.

Could this approach work for your organization? If not, how do you select cloud partners and vendors? Be sure to share your thoughts in the comment section below.