The public cloud is fast becoming the platform of choice for IT leaders and their line-of-business counterparts. Cloud computing business solutions like Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud and Amazon Web Services enable you to put costly IT resources in the cloud. Yet while the pace of the move to on-demand IT continues to quicken, CIOs are faced with a bewildering option of providers and services. How should organisations manage this selection process? Picking the right partner could mean that the problem will be solved in your best interest and the solution will be optimized for your business.

Clearly, this is a need for consultants in the cloud computing sector as there is tremendous growth of the public cloud. Gartner predicts the worldwide market of public cloud services will go from $246.8 billion in 2017 to $287.8 billion this year and reach $383 billion by 2020!

With that growth will come a massive growth in cloud consultancies. It’s both inevitable and necessary. Many firms initially made the move to the cloud on their own and got a bad surprise. They didn’t understand the cloud and had wrong ideas for what workloads should be migrated. The result, according to one IDC study, was more than 40% of companies surveyed moved workloads back to the on-premise solution, after a brief flirtation with the cloud. What they often found is that they made the incorrect assumption that on-premise skills could translate to the cloud when they did not.

And while new skills can be learned, there is a learning process to be undertaken – you want someone to help you do the move right, preferably while you learn. So how do you choose the right consultant for your business? We have some suggestions.

But first – you want to select a strong cloud team. Make sure their team has been with the firm for a while, and that their team covers everything, like network infrastructure, applications, application development, security, data management, finance, and so forth. You don’t want a consultant who just does one thing well.

Selecting a Cloud Consultant for Your Business

1) Independent – The cloud is a hybrid world, so you need an unbiased source who navigates the entire range of cloud service providers to find the best options for your business. This is especially true of you choose to go with multiple cloud providers, which the majority of businesses do.

2) Tech savvy – The cloud is technically complex and the menu of offerings from providers is pretty extensive so you need to have someone who truly understands execution details, not just strategy.

3) Knows your industry – The needs of a manufacturing firm are different from the needs of a retail chain. Your provider has to have experience in servicing your industry so they can incorporate business alignment with technology decisions.

4) Wide range of financial and licensing models – A good consultant knows not only the costs involved in an EC2 instance but also hosted apps like  on-premises licenses like SAP that could cost millions in fines if deployed incorrectly.

5) Compliance – There are a lot of rules about moving personal and sensitive data to the cloud and your consultant should know them. Which cloud is right for you? That is something a consultant should know.

6) BizDevOps – They should not only be familiar with collaboration tools, newer methodologies for implementing fail/find/fix fast concepts and continuous delivery, but also how business requirements adhere to the more strategic company plans. Cloud migrations can take years. You want to make sure that move doesn’t have to be undone.

7) A trusted partner – It may seem obvious but some people miss the obvious. You need to find someone you can work with as a close and truly trusted advisor for the long-term, not a casual encounter with a low trust level. This often means choosing a smaller or local consultancy.

8) Proven success – Ask for their case studies and speak with their customers, especially the ones in your industry. The cloud is old enough now that you should not have to be anyone’s guinea pig, so look for a consultant that has been there, done that in your field.

9) Good security measures – Security breaches are at the top of everyone’s list of concerns, and rightfully so. It’s important that your consultant has knowledge of industry regulations.

10) Plan long term – A cloud migration, as said earlier, is not a forklift job done in a fortnight. This is an ongoing relationship that will span through years. Expect to be with this company a long time and ask all the relevant questions about not only current issues of compatibility, but also where they expect to be in three years.