Several months ago Backupify published some research showing that a growing number of large companies are using Google Apps, and other news reports since then have suggested this trend is continuing to accelerate. We’ve seen it in our customer base – we’ve signed more >1,000-seat customers this year than in the previous two years combined.
One of the things these larger organizations have in common is that they use a more structured approach to evaluate potential I.T. partners. As we’ve gone through a number of these evaluations we’ve seen some common themes, and we’ve tried to capture them in a white paper, “How to Select a Backup Service for Cloud Application Data”.
The first best practice is to have a defined process. The process doesn’t need to be complicated – here’s an example:
- Align the organization and stakeholders around the need for a solution.
- Identify the organization’s key requirements.
- Identify vendors to be screened.
- Rate each solution based on screening criteria and identify candidates for a Proof of Concept.
- Take one or more vendors through an in-depth Proof of Concept and score each solution.
- Select a vendor and roll out the solution.
Note that the first step is to align the organization. It’s surprisingly common for the leadership to view this as an “I.T. exercise”, underestimating the impact that a new I.T. solution will have on a variety of stakeholders including Finance, the internal I.T. helpdesk, and end-users. Getting those folks on board early can make the process go much more smoothly.
After the organization agrees on key requirements it may make sense to screen potential vendors against that list before proceeding to a more rigorous “Proof of Concept” phase. The screening step gives you a chance to eliminate weaker candidates without investing a lot of time in evaluating the product.
Once you’ve selected one or two candidates for a proof of concept, another best practice is to decide up front on a broad set of evaluation criteria. Most organizations identify key features to look at, but it can be helpful to also include criteria around the vendor’s business stability, service level agreement (if any), and support for specific use cases. These criteria typically fall into four categories:
- Vendor qualifications
- Technical requirements
- Use cases
We’ve provided a more detailed list of criteria as an appendix to the white paper.
Circling back with the stakeholders after the proof of concept to review the results provides an opportunity for all groups to have input and see how the process worked, which generally results in better “buy in” and a smoother implementation.
We hope this document helps your organization move quickly and confidently through your evaluation process. Please send us any comments or suggestions – we’ve compiled the document based on feedback from lots of companies and we’d love to include your input.