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What should CIOs look for when choosing public cloud platforms?

In this Ask the Expert, Lumentum SVP and CIO Ralph Loura highlights two key factors to consider when choosing among public cloud giants AWS, Azure and Google Cloud Platform.

Business agility and speed are driving more companies to the cloud: A recent RightScale report found that 71% of...

enterprises expected to increase spending on public cloud platforms by more than 20%.

Given the surge in investments in public cloud platforms, network intelligence company ThousandEyes recently published the "Public Cloud Performance Benchmark Report" that measured and compared network performance between the top three public cloud providers -- Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform.

All clouds are definitely not equal, said Ralph Loura, senior vice president and CIO at Lumentum.

"There are regional performance differences, platform-level performance differences and particularly in areas like latency and throughput," Loura said. "If you have a highly sensitive application or a geography that you are working in, those are things that you want to pay attention to and optimize for your particular use case."

Loura, who until recently was CTO of Rodan + Fields, has also held CIO positions at Clorox and the Enterprise Group at Hewlett Packard Enterprise. He joined Lumentum in October.

Ralph LouraRalph Loura

In this Ask the Expert, Loura discusses what to consider when choosing among public cloud platforms. His advice for other CIOs: Don't treat all clouds equally and be cognizant of your cloud consumption.

Editor's note: The following transcript has been edited for clarity and length.

What advice do you have for CIOs trying to choose among public cloud platforms?

Ralph Loura: There are some people who have particular sensitivities related to cloud consumption based on their industries. For instance, if you are in the retail industry, your board of directors or senior leadership team may be allergic to a particular cloud platform because they also are connected to a big online e-commerce company. So, there are some areas where you have to understand the political landscape and be savvy and aware of that.

Don't treat all cloud as equal; don't treat all performance characteristics as the same.
Ralph Lourasenior vice president and CIO, Lumentum

That aside, there are some similarities between the three big public cloud providers -- [AWS, Azure and Google Cloud Platform] -- and there are also some nuances and some differences that may be worth exploring depending on your particular need and your particular use case. Don't treat all cloud as equal; don't treat all performance characteristics as the same.

The second [piece of] advice would be, if -- and I think it's a big if -- you truly want to have a multi-cloud strategy -- where I am cloud-agnostic and I can move workloads wherever I want -- pay very close attention to how and what you are consuming. The analogy I would use is the browser wars back in the day. You had Internet Explorer, Chrome, Safari, and each of them adhered to a standard, but then it would add a couple of extra things. Then if you deployed an application that used something that was specific to one browser, it made it very hard for your users to use another browser and access that application.

The same is true for cloud. If I am consuming the generic compute, storage and network capabilities in the cloud, that's fine. The minute I become attracted to, 'Oh, somebody just rolled out this great feature where it is easier for me now to do this because I can consume this solution that's only in AWS or only in Google Compute Platform,' now I have created a stickiness, a friction and a difficulty to get out. Be careful of what you are consuming. Most people have a strategy to do one thing, but they fail to monitor execution.

Get details about the RightScale report here and the ThousandEyes report here.

This was last published in November 2018

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