5 Key Service Capabilities for Cloud Providers
September 21, 2011
Steve Harriman
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Service providers have been running their operations like a cloud for years, with infrastructure managed as shared resources, multitenancy, chargeback based upon resource usage and more. This makes them well-positioned to make the transition to cloud and take advantage of a golden opportunity to offer differentiated services and increase revenue.

However, recent survey results suggest that users of public cloud lack confidence in the service provider industry to adequately monitor and manage their resources in the cloud. Of more than 100 IT directors and above in North America surveyed, 79 percent indicated they are running some production applications in the cloud, but only 17 percent expect to rely solely on their cloud service provider to provide performance metrics.

Service providers who are making the transition to cloud services or already offer them need to not only deploy the right processes and technologies for monitoring and management, but also be transparent with customers about the quality of service and insight they are able to deliver as a result.

The following are five key capabilities and offerings that help successful cloud service providers deliver the highest quality service, provide customers insight into usage and performance, and increase revenue. These resources ensure expectations are set and met, and that customers have the utmost confidence in the service provider’s cloud management capabilities.

1. Centralized Management

Service providers need tools that enable them to manage their traditional and cloud infrastructures as one entity. The ability to consolidate critical IT operations and dynamic cloud management functions such as performance, fault, availability, service desk, automation and event management is critical to delivering high-quality services across distributed resources. Having a consistent, correlated set of metrics across both on-premises and cloud infrastructures speeds troubleshooting. It also simplifies and optimizes management workflows and minimizes integration work to increase efficiency and reduce costs.

2. Service-Level Management with Integrated Events, Notification Workflow and Ticketing

Centralized management supports the ability to set more effective and consistent policies for events, alerts, notifications, escalation paths, IT ticketing and problem resolution workflow to ensure fast troubleshooting and consistent service delivery. It also facilitates proactive service-level management as defined by each customer’s SLAs to ensure both service provider and customer are on the same page. Service providers can also include customers in notification and escalation policies so they receive automatically designated alerts and messages that can be used for on-demand customer upgrades.

3. Customer Self-Service Portals

Service providers are offering customers their own web-based portals for views into system and application availability and performance. With multi-tenant views to see each customer’s data separately, service providers can give each customer secure views into their own data. Giving customers views into the same data they use – such as service levels and availability, performance levels, ticket queues and bandwidth usage for billing and analysis – enables service providers to be more responsive and efficient as well as quickly add revenue-generating services across virtual and cloud resources.

4. Automated Provisioning

Customer expectations of cloud service quality require a heightened level of speed and scale on top of traditional service provider operations, making automation essential. This includes the ability to provision service monitoring automatically. Successful cloud service providers are adding automation into their customer self-service portals, so that the setup of new management services can be done without requiring human intervention.

5. Bandwidth Reports and Billing Calculation

Successful cloud providers also generate standardized and customizable reports on bandwidth usage and availability per customer to ensure complete visibility into cloud deployments. This includes the use of built-in reporting tools to perform automated billing calculations according to each customer’s actual usage and billing terms.

In a world where end users expect always-on, on-demand cloud services, just deploying the infrastructure is not enough. For cloud adoption to increase, enterprise customers with critical business applications need to have faith that their service providers deliver secure, high-quality services and transparency into service levels. While not an exhaustive list, using these five cloud management technologies and service offerings – and clearly communicating the value – will help boost service levels and give customers an increased level of confidence in cloud computing. This will better enable service providers to take advantage of the massive opportunities cloud computing brings and capture more market share.

About Steve Harriman

Steve Harriman is the Senior Vice President of Marketing for ScienceLogic. For more than twenty years, Harriman has led technology marketing in startups, privately-held mid-sized ventures and publicly traded corporations. Before joining ScienceLogic, he spent five years as Senior Vice President of Marketing at NetQoS . Prior to NetQoS, Steve worked for Sterling Software and Candle Corporation. Harriman began his career in data center operations and systems programming, working in the United Kingdom before moving to the United States.

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