IDG Contributor Network: The intangibles of picking a public cloud: the board of directors' viewpoint


Beyond the cost equation is a composite set of variables to consider when choosing what public cloud platform to launch/relocate an organization’s next venture. In “,” I covered some intangibles for a CIO or CTO to consider, such as a cloud vendor’s comparative capabilities and operational requirements, as well as artificial intelligence prowess. But additional factors exist to force strategic discussions at the board of directors’ (BOD) sphere of influence. While cloud costs are crucial to a healthy EBITDA, these costs will be insignificant if topline growth is stalled or a future funding event is impacted.

Time to market

Whether the project involves the company’s next internal efficiency bump or represents a revolutionary new product in the market, delivering before the competition in the near-term must be balanced with the long-term viability for future innovation. Having some basic notions of how the service will operate within the cloud environment as well an aspirational roadmap are must-have items before making a big decision. Everything from managed/unmanaged services all the way to in-house skills can radically change the timelines as your development and operations teams uncover strengths and weakness in each cloud vendor.

For oversight purposes, technical leadership should exhibit comparison matrices outlining differences in key cloud services to be used. Everything from SLAs per service to service-to-service integration should be considered in the context of meeting targets both six months and 24-plus months away. While it may be tempting to discount the analysis due to the rapid evolution of cloud offerings, the process will force the team to work through tough questions, resulting in an obvious winner. In short, it’s a substantial executive mistake to assume using any one of the top three or four vendors will all result in similar outcomes.

Customer adoption and data gravity

Depending on what customer domain the service will attract, many organizations are finding that end users do have preferences about how and where the business operations are housed. At first, technical leaders may be tempted to argue a reliable service is all the user should be concerned about; however, more users are becoming savvy on this topic as certain intangibles beyond cost and reliability affect their bottom lines as well. For instance, many retailers are in direct competition with one of the gorillas providing cloud services, and while a cutting-edge cloud app might attract a decent audience, no company wants to be feeding their rivals. This is especially relevant in the enterprise space, where six- and seven-figure deals require executive signoff on the customer side of the equation, and where corporate strategy is often considered during the purchase process.

with $2 billion of GCP and $1 billion of AWS over five years. Snap, like many others, has taken the best-of-breed route by mapping needs to the vendor with the best fit.


This article is published as part of the IDG Contributor Network.