You do not have to buy anything before you convince yourself that the cloud is ‘just what you need’. Download trial versions of different cloud services and see how your applications and workloads perform before you take the next step of accepting or rejecting cloud computing.
Getting the best out of the trial version of cloud software (any software for that matter) requires some effort and hard work on your part. You need to have an exact and accurate idea of your data loads, workflows, backup and recovery requirements, time frames, reporting requirements, disaster recovery compulsions, recovery point objectives (RPO), recovery time objectives (RTO) and so on. Without this information, launching on a trial is as good as useless.
If you have ascertained all of the above, you are ready for your trial. You need to use simulated or actual data to create the right computing environment you are likely to use. You may like to replicate the effort by downloading trials from more than one cloud service provider, so that you have the data for comparison. You may like to conduct extensive research in parallel on what the cloud service offers you—the enterprise—in the service level agreement (SLA) and what kind of reputation does the service provider have, etc., while you are busy simulating your computing environment over the Internet hands-on.
Experts recommend that it is best to start small and then go full hog. They would rightly advise you to migrate non-critical systems first and then a few critical systems to see what kind of performance metrics you get. Appointing a test group for the purpose of the test is generally a very good idea. They can keep a record of the performance and the problems experienced during the trial.
Ideally, the trial should be a three to six-month trial. Many cloud vendors will allow you the luxury if they think you are a big customer—they cannot afford to lose—or you are a very serious customer, who will ultimately subscribe to their services. Otherwise, most trial versions are available for free for a period of 30 days.
Make sure, that the trial versions you are downloading are fully functional. A few vendors bar some features from the trial version and this can be very annoying. You may not be able to fully test the potential of the software during the trial.
Part II of this article is found here: Testing the Cloud –Trials, are for Free— Part II