Key Capabilities in Cloud Service Delivery Management

All the players in the cloud management ecosystem have a role to play in ensuring consistent delivery and operation of cloud services. The cloud provider has primary responsibility for the management functions of its cloud service offerings. The cloud consumer needs to monitor the operation of these services with a focus on end-user experience. The cloud broker can act as an intermediary between cloud providers and the cloud consumer to ensure that the cloud consumer has a consistent management view across its hybrid cloud environment.

To effectively manage a hybrid environment requires that all elements of the environment be managed in an automated and standardized way. Therefore, the six primary management responsibilities that any service provider must include are:

  • Customer accounts

  • Provisioning and configuring resources

  • Service catalogs

  • Performance

  • Security

  • Interoperability and portability

Managing customer accounts

Cloud providers must ensure that the basic business relationship with their customers runs smoothly. Because cloud services are largely self-serviced, an essential aspect of cloud management deals with automating processes of customer account management. These processes include opening and closing accounts, establishing user authorizations, tracking use, and managing service levels according to policies.

Provisioning and configuring services

Provisioning automates the process of accessing the computing resources needed by the service provider or consumer. Provisioning enables pools of resources to be instantly available based on business policy rules.

Without this level of automation, the provisioning process can take months because it often requires organizations to acquire, configure, and set up resources manually. By focusing on standardization and automation, cloud providers can make the provisioning process easier, faster, and more cost effective.

In order to ensure that the right services are provisioned, it is critical to manage change. There must be configuration services in place to keep track of changes to everything from actual applications to operating systems.

Service catalogs

A service catalog plays an important role in ensuring that service providers adequately document the characteristics of services so that consumers know where to look for what they need. The catalog is essentially a list of internal and external services available to an organization. Ideally, an enterprise IT organization wants to provide a comprehensive catalog of services that is easily understood and used by its customers.

A good service catalog includes this information and more:

  • Definition of the service and what it means to business users

  • Various options for each service and any limitations

  • The requirements for executing the service

  • The cost of the service and whether costs vary by service level options

  • Creator of the service

  • Who can use the service

  • How to request a service

  • Whether there are bundles of services

  • The associated service level

Management of performance

Cloud providers need to monitor cloud services to ensure that the performance of servers, networks, and virtualized images in the cloud provider's environment are tuned to satisfy all business requirements and service levels.

A standardized and automated system needs to be in place to track, trace, and audit all aspects of performance — for example, bandwidth, connectivity, and scalability. In addition, automated systems should be designed to quickly identify the root cause of the hardware or software failures so performance can be restored.

These systems should answer questions such as

  • Is the cloud infrastructure performing as expected?

  • Are identified performance problems occurring randomly at regular intervals?

  • Which performance problems are most severe and need to be given top priority to find the root cause and resolve the issue?

  • How can performance be improved?

You can put management services in place to monitor performance of your data center and private cloud, but you still need a way to monitor statistics about service performance from your public cloud service providers. Some vendors provide monitoring and management products that will help improve your ability to monitor performance of your public cloud resources and, hence, improve the overall service level of your hybrid cloud.

Security

Cloud providers are responsible for securing the physical and logical aspects of the infrastructure and operation system in the cloud environment. For example, cloud providers need to validate appropriate levels of network, operating system, and middleware security to prevent intrusion and denial-of-service attacks.

Comprehensive governance and security strategies are a non-negotiable requirement for a cloud provider to maintain good customer relationships. A proactive approach is required to protect against security threats that change constantly. Each cloud provider will take a different approach to security, and it is the responsibility of the organization consuming the cloud services to ensure that its security requirements are met. Security management must be viewed as a shared responsibility between the cloud provider and the cloud user.

Interoperability and portability

In hybrid cloud environments, interoperability and portability refer to how cloud users can move their tools, applications, virtual images, and so on, between the data center and private and public clouds. A high level of interoperability means that cloud users can easily move workloads from one environment to another with very few integration issues. Interoperability also means that an application will work the same if it is moved from one cloud environment to another.

Portability is a related concept that is often used to describe what is involved when a cloud user wants to move a SaaS (Software as a Service) or PaaS (Platform as a Service) -based application from one vendor to another.

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