Cloud providers might lead with competitive pricing and robust service offerings, but culture fit is also key.

Evaluating prospective cloud vendors for a culture fit has become an important choice in the technology purchasing process for organizations seeking products as a service. An organization’s culture, vision and mission provide the guardrails and direction in which their innovation takes place. Unhealthy  or mismatched culture is the forestaller of innovation.

Why talk about cloud culture?

As you make the move to the cloud, your organization will need to transform culturally as well as digitally. Choosing the right provider is not only critical to the success of your technology project, but also to the development of a way of doing business that will support organization-wide digital transformation.

Use of Infrastructure as Code (IaC) is an example of this transformation. IaC accelerates your journey to the cloud and is considered a necessity. Using IaC also breaks down static barriers that you may have in IT methodologies such as Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL). This forces your organization to be more agile and requires a culture change to support.

Why is a cloud provider culture evaluation necessary?

In a traditional on-premises data center model, hardware and perpetual software licenses were capital expenditures for the specific models and versions available at the time of sale. These types of purchases are investments in the current state of the hardware and software.

In the worlds of Infrastructure, Platform and Software as a Service, technology assets have transformed into operating expenditures. This is an important differentiation because the money spent on cloud services is an investment in the future.

No matter the innovative potential of your organization’s technology teams, they will be forever hindered if the underlying systems are developed and supported by a company whose culture clashes with, or does not support, your own.

Cloud Service Providers Mission Statements

Begin with the provider’s Mission Statement to understand their culture. Below are the parent company’s mission statements for the big three cloud providers.

Microsoft: “Our mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.”

Microsoft has focused on the mission of making people and organizations more productive from the beginning. From the release of SharePoint and Exchange, to the democratization of the intelligent cloud, Microsoft is on a journey to deliver the resources necessary to make achieving the impossible, probable.

Google: “Our mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

Google started as a data company, delivering a cutting-edge search platform to the public. That mission and the culture it became famous for endures to this day. Modern businesses are data-driven. Google is delivering a data-centric cloud to meet the demands of data-driven businesses.

Amazon: “…to continually raise the bar of the customer experience by using the internet and technology to help consumers find, discover and buy anything, and empower businesses and content creators to maximise their success.”

Customer obsession is the bedrock that Amazon built its business on. It has innovated because of its customer-obsessed focus, rather than a market-obsessed focus.

Ask the Questions

Ask questions about the provider’s culture and processes. Ask about how problem tickets, critical incidents, and feature requests get handled. Ask about their implementations of DevOps and Agile methodologies.

Ask for case studies of other organizations using their services. Are they organizations with similar cultures and business models to yours? What were their successes and challenges?

Ask for references from the provider and speak to those references. Ask about the culture of the provider.


You may find that one cloud provider doesn’t necessarily fit all; some business units may have entirely different cultural, budgetary and functional requirements than others. In fact, many organizations use multiple cloud partners to align with different needs.

There are countless models and resources for determining Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for each of the major cloud providers. Beyond TCO and service offerings, a critical need exists to evaluate each prospective cloud provider for culture fit. The cloud provider(s) that you choose will be an integral part of your organization’s digital transformation.