The Cloud Service Management Ecosystem
Your level of responsibility for managing the delivery and operation of cloud services in cloud computing depends on your role in the cloud ecosystem. Because the hybrid cloud encompasses so many different services from so many different places, cloud management needs lots of attention. Secure, reliable, interoperable, and cost-effective cloud services require an underlying infrastructure that is highly tuned, well monitored, and well managed.
You might be a consumer or provider of cloud services or an organization that brings a variety of services together (such as a broker of cloud services). In hybrid cloud environments, the roles and responsibilities for management are complicated.
An organization consuming Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), Business Process as a Service (BPaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) from different vendors may need to play multiple roles, including both cloud consumer and cloud provider. Responsibilities for managing and securing these cloud services will overlap and often be shared across different participants.
With so many different players in the hybrid cloud environment, one thing is certain: At the end of the day, organizations are responsible for delivering the right service level for their customers. The primary goal of a well-managed environment is to ensure that end-user experiences are maintained and satisfy expectations.
It is beneficial to understand the three constituents who are responsible for hybrid cloud management:
Cloud providers control performance
A cloud provider can be any organization that provides a service to cloud consumers. Some cloud providers may focus on a single cloud model, such as IaaS, SaaS, PaaS, or BPaaS. Other cloud providers may provide an integrated platform that includes many of these services for a company. Still other cloud providers may be the IT department itself that becomes a cloud provider for its employees and customers.
Cloud providers have responsibility for the architecture of the cloud and for providing cloud resources and services to cloud consumers. These organizations are responsible for monitoring the cloud infrastructure to ensure that service levels for uptime, speed of delivery, and other performance characteristics are maintained.
In order to bring the right level of management to cloud environments, a cloud provider needs to understand and anticipate the requirements of its customers, provide the right level of security and governance, optimize operating costs, and ensure that cloud services are available to users. Cloud providers also assume the responsibility of quickly finding the root cause of any problems that interfere with the quality of service delivery to maintain compliance with service-level agreements.
Cloud consumers focus on the customer experience
Cloud consumers are the individuals and organizations that use, manage, and pay for services delivered by a cloud service provider. A cloud consumer may be an individual sales manager using the services of a SaaS application, an IT development team consuming PaaS services, or an IT system that provides automated management — such as the provisioning of services based on business policies. In hybrid enterprise environments, there may be many different cloud consumers using services from lots of cloud providers.
The cloud consumer can’t be a passive receiver of cloud services. Rather, the cloud consumer must be able to monitor the services the organization uses to make sure that these services deliver as promised. As an important first step to maintaining the right level of oversight, IT needs to begin to recognize that it is a cloud provider to its internal and external customers as well as a cloud consumer. It needs sufficient insight into the performance of each of these services to understand how they individually and collectively impact the overall performance of the business.
Cloud brokers integrate and provide management layer
Cloud management responsibilities may increase exponentially as use of cloud services expands. As both the quantity and type of cloud services used across your organization increase, it becomes challenging to maintain a consistent level of visibility and control.
A cloud service broker is a vendor or a business unit within a company that provides oversight and management for a variety of cloud providers. The broker can stand between an organization and its cloud services, managing the use, performance, integration, and delivery of such resources.
Using a cloud broker can help organizations gain more control over which cloud services are being used and who is using them. It is so easy to set up a cloud service with a credit card payment or a simple user license for a SaaS application that many IT organizations have no idea how many cloud services are in use across the company. This practice of having too many uncontrolled cloud services can present significant security and governance risks to the company.
One option for cloud broker services is to create a single environment or portal as a central control point for internal users of cloud services. This allows an individual to securely sign on in order to access services they are authorized to use. The advantages of this process from a management perspective are significant. It gives IT more centralized control over which cloud services are being used in the organization and who uses them.
The cloud broker can also consolidate many of the business services. For example, business units may independently begin using cloud services like Amazon web services without the knowledge of the IT organization. Therefore, the company may be spending more money than necessary and may lose control of security and governance.