- Study Pricing and Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)
Many cloud analytic solutions offer per-user licensing on a monthly, quarterly or annual subscription basis. Be sure to work through the model that best fits your firm. Take into account the overall length of the project and expected growth to ensure the total cost of the project over time meets your goals, EMA asserts.
- Architecture and Features
In addition to studying current features, examine the release schedule and roadmap for your provider to better understand when new releases will be available. Some cloud analytic firms have a monthly release cadence. Others are quarterly. Depending on the architecture of your provider, you may be able to align these releases with your optimal IT schedule and business flow. Customization can be difficult in many cloud environments; be sure to investigate your specific needs and determine costs in advance. Some environments that are multi-tenant (many customers sharing a single architecture) can be restrictive with regards to custom features, EMA says.
- Service Management and Service Level Agreements (SLAs)
Determine how the provider supports new user provisioning, license management, system load balancing, and elasticity, as these are all critical components of a high performing system. Find out if the provider has assigned technical support and real-time chat support for customers, EMA recommends.
- Transparency and Communication
Check to see if the platform offers a real-time performance portal so customers are able to see system performance, uptime, outage scheduling, support issues, and scheduled maintenance, EMA suggests.
- Application Programming Interface (APIs)
APIs can ensure a cloud analytic environment doesn’t become an isolated silo. Additionally, some vendors will create an extensible environment by publishing and supporting Software Developer Kits (SDKs). If flexibility and connectivity are critical to your deployment, look for vendors who excel in this area, EMA asserts.
- Platform Security
Look for vendors that take the security challenge seriously. Leaders in the market are investing in their infrastructure and policies to deliver a high level of performance, EMA says.
- Proof of Concept (POCs)
Deploy a POC before committing to a long-term cloud analytic partnership. POCs reduce risk and help ensure a smooth transition to the right vendor solution, EMA notes.
Many SaaS solutions offer intuitive user interfaces, but training remains important. Research whether the vendor supports a community of users that you can leverage and learn from. Visit the forums and FAQ resources, research user groups, onsite seminars, and conferences designed to support you and your team post-purchase, EMA recommends.
- Vendor Strength
Research a company’s revenue and financial status (if the information is publicly available). For newer options, check the funding sources and venture capital positions, executive team, partner networks, and references, EMA says.
- Exit or Relocation
Before committing to a vendor, understand the process for migrating to on-premises deployments. Some vendors are capable of serving their solution both ways, and at some point your circumstances may require moving the solution back behind your firewall. Be sure there is no impractical data transfer fees or penalties in the contract that make this process difficult, EMA concludes.