Before you get started with any hybrid arrangement, ask these questions of your prospective provider:
- Can you use VPNs to connect? You are going to want to have a secure method to access your servers and data, and most providers offer a virtual private network for this access. For example. Amazon offers its Virtual Private Cloud VPN service. Others only make use of secure HTTP browsers or remote desktop connections or SSH terminal sessions.
- Can you segment your network into Virtual LANs easily? This helps for extra security and makes your cloud easier to manage too.
- Are there any role-based or granular access controls? With some providers, access is an all-or-nothing proposition. Look for more granularity, where you can limit what ordinary users can do (such as preventing them from stopping or starting a virtual server or making changes to your virtual infrastructure).
- Are both Linux and Windows virtual server instances available? While you may not need both kinds of servers, it is nice to be able to bring up what you need down the road. On Verizon's CaaS services, for example, you can install a variety of both server operating systems, including 64-bit versions of Windows Servers.
- How do you set up and tear down a virtual machine instance? With many providers, this is done via a Web browser connecting to a portal page. Amazon has its Auto Scale and Elastic Load Balancer features to add or subtract computing resources. Others have simple copy commands so once you have a "golden" server configured, you can easily make clones.