It’s hard to ignore all the buzz around cloud computing. Offering an impressive list of potential infrastructure benefits, including cost reduction, flexibility, scalability, reliability, maintainability and more, cloud represents a significant disruptive shift in the traditional computing paradigm. Cost, performance, security and budget all offer compelling reasons to make a jump to the cloud. But there are dozens of cloud services available, so how do you decide which cloud model is right for you? Key points to consider: performance metrics, services types, ownership You have to answer the “what needs doing” question by looking at your business needs in terms of current infrastructure, platform and software. What problems are you trying to solve by looking to the cloud? What are cloud vendors offering that address them at the software level? Do those solutions meet your security requirements? Do the cloud solutions actually improve your performance by offering lower cost, greater scalability or higher reliability? Here are some insights to guide your research: Performance-based Based on performance metrics, such as reliability, cost, security, scalability, processing power, or regulatory issues such as where the data resides, what paths it transits and what national laws govern its privacy. For example, data stored on Google or Microsoft servers might be subject to the US Patriot Act, regardless of the territory in which the server resides; data hosted by a Canadian provider might still transit foreign territory between your users and the host. Service-based Based on what is being hosted (e.g., Software-as-a-Service, Platform-as-a-Service, Infrastructure-as-a-Service). An example of Software-as-a-Service cloud would be consumer-oriented email or messaging services such as Microsoft Hotmail or Yahoo mail. Platform-as-a-service offerings include the option of customizing the services for a particular client, so that your developers can access their own corporate development environment within the cloud. Infrastructure-as-a-Service offerings include the basic virtualized infrastructure where the client can install their own operating systems and application software. If the platform you need is not available for rent, then you need to build it yourself within an IaaS environment. Ownership-based Based on who’s doing the hosting, and how (e.g., public, private, hybrid, community). For example, the infrastructure for a private cloud, wherever hosted, would exist solely for the use of one owner. This is a bit of a contradiction because one of the fundamental benefits of the cloud is the capability to scale up and down with demand without investing in the full cost of the infrastructure required to handle peak demand. If you own your cloud then you’re responsible for the infrastructure too.