Thursday, December 10, 2009

5 Key Parametres for Cloud Based Providers

Forrester's James Staten states that clients are getting "cloud weary." Therefore the biggest challenge for service providers is to set themselves apart in the eyes of the customer. This is only possible by developing ones core competence in the service area as well as meeting the commodity needs.

James Urquhart suggests 5 different parametres that will help service providers stay alive in the era of competition.

1.Ease of operations/use: The biggest question is "How does a company with hundreds of applications in the cloud strewn across a dozen or more vendors monitor and manage those applications to manageable service levels"?

Phenomenal user interfaces that will set some providers apart from others is one of the answers, but the real answer to the question lies in "behind the scenes" interfaces;such as APIs, publish and subscribe event streams, transparency and auditability systems, etc. This will set apart service providers.

2.Configurability: One of the things about today's best-known cloud computing environments is that they are essentially infrastructure and software architecture frameworks that dictate a lot about the application architectures that can be built on them.

Today application architects are forced to consider how they would build and operate their application in the infrastructure architecture given them. The answer for IaaS vendors are things like network architectures, data storage options and server options. Also useful here are services that enhance the infrastructure, like security systems, message queueing, and storage tiering.

3.Performance: Processing speed, memory speed, storage access, read and write speeds, latency, bandwidth are the things that are tunable by the cloud provider, either through technology acquisition, or through superior engineering and operations expertise. And, as with servers and storage, the fastest speeds will give you the edge.

4.Reliability and security: The core concept that every user looks for is risk mitigation.There is also a lot of debate over whether public cloud services are better than private data centers, that companies will need time to demonstrate differentiation in both of these categories.

Features have to be introduced to increase the transparency of both operations and security in any provider. Redundant distributed data stores, "early warning" DDoS detection events, auditability APIs;are all features that would increase customer's ability to trust that their provider has made the protection and availability of their data and functionality a core competency.

5.Customer service: Here vendor relationship management with the user will be a key differentiator. Customer service representatives should be very prompt in responding to customer queries.

Cloud computing is one of those market opportunities that makes or breaks companies. The winners will find ways to differntiate. Those that don't almost certainly can't win.

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