Mapping Cloud Characteristics to Business Issues

As organizations move critical compute, storage, and application systems to cloud providers, several additional attributes or characteristics have become more of an emphasis based on recent lessons learned. Many of the characteristics in the following list apply to IT modernization trends in general even if an organization isn’t yet shifting to a cloud environment:

Real-time statistics, monitoring, and metering of services

(transparency into the cloud environment)

Organizations have transitioned some or all of their data and applications into the cloud, so some form of visibility into the cloud environment is essential for a successful experience. This includes real-time monitoring of service status, metered resource utilization dashboards, and service-level agreement (SLA) reporting scorecards.

 

Self-service management

As applications are moved to the cloud, organizations want the ability to manage their accounts and application settings without having to submit a helpdesk ticket for routine tasks. This is often an overlooked or underestimated feature of a successful cloud offering.

 

Role-based security for multilevel administration

User roles are defined within the cloud management system to allow placing orders, approving orders, or managing service subscriptions. These roles also define the visibility of services between users so multiple organizations or tenants cannot see one another. The roles for each tenant are restricted so they cannot change settings or order services outside of their authorized capacity and account.

 

24-7-365 support and escalation to a single provider

Users are looking for the provider to fully support all the services and resources hosted in the cloud. Cloud providers typically provide all backend datacenter and server farm management, but the user also needs the ability to escalate real and perceived user and access issues to the provider. Low cost providers might attempt to limit a customer’s ability to call into a 24-7–staffed support center.

 

Little or no capital expenses (funding via operational budgets)

Public cloud services normally provide services to customers with little or no up-front capital expenses, whereas private clouds often require significant capital investment. In a public cloud model, and for some managed private clouds, the provider covers the initial cost of equipment and staging, with each customer paying for usage based on an hourly, daily, weekly, or monthly rate. The provider covers all systems management, patching, and future upgrades of hardware and software. This means that customers can better utilize their money by spreading their costs over multiple years and not having to identify a large amount of funding every so many years for capital equipment and upgrades.

 

No long-term commitments

(ability to easily scale services up or down as needed or consumed)

Customers often desire little or no minimums or term commitments. It is up to the service provider to set the terms and flexibility to customize those terms to meet consumer needs. Although the consumer might desire zero minimums or commitments and the ability to cancel some or all of the services with little or no notice, this represents a significant risk to the public cloud provider or private cloud integrator, which normally results in a higher price per service over a period of time.

 

Automate Everything

The above characteristics are prevalent in Cloud Computing.  It should also be mentioned that Cloud is forcing firms to ‘automate’ almost all aspects of the business.  This includes: Security, Backup, Disaster Recovery, Configuration management, Dev/Ops and even migration.  IT/IS Best Practices are the core of Cloud Computing – driven by factors such as ease-of-use, automation and simplification.