Administering Cloud Computing Services - dummies

Administering Cloud Computing Services

By Judith Hurwitz, Robin Bloor, Marcia Kaufman, Fern Halper

When managing cloud computing services, a company has to ask itself many questions about the various services’ effectiveness. The administrators must know if the performance is at the right level, and they must be able to tell if data that has been deleted is really gone.

Solving these problems isn’t easy. Investigating the reliability and viability of a cloud provider is one of the most complex areas faced when managing the cloud. The advent of cloud computing will be accompanied by disappointed customers and lawsuits for sure — some as a consequence of unrealistic expectations and some as a consequence of poor service.

It’s particularly important for IT departments to enable administration systems that let them monitor every dimension of the service they’re getting.

In theory, the cloud service provider can build and provide a very stable service that is less expensive than a customer can implement internally. However, there can be a serious gap between the actual service and the promises made in the provider’s sales literature.

You have to do your homework when evaluating the providers.

Here are some of the issues to consider:

  • What vendors are available to solve your problem?

  • How effective are the providers in managing their own environment?

  • Do they provide repeatable services?

  • How do these vendors handle an outage?

  • What’s their experience in dealing with customer issues?

In addition to finding a good partner, it’s always a good idea to have more than one provider as an alternative.

Service level agreements and monitoring in cloud computing

Every company that buys any service from a cloud service provider must either accept a standard service level agreement (SLA) from the provider or negotiate such an agreement. A service level agreement is a contract that stipulates the type of service you need from providers and what type of penalties would result from an unexpected business interruption.

No organization should commit mission-critical systems to the cloud without negotiating an SLA that includes significant penalties for not delivering the promised service level.

Support in the cloud computing environment

Support problems don’t disappear when applications or infrastructures move to the cloud. You have to make sure that support targets are agreed on in advance with a cloud services provider. Therefore, your company must align its internal support team that deals with internal customers with the cloud provider.

Billing and accounting for cloud computing services

One cloud benefit is that, as a customer you can acquire just as much capability as needed. For this to work, billing and account management must be automated. Customers, therefore, need to be able to monitor what they’re using and how much it costs.

Potential problems arise if service level penalties aren’t clear and if the provider adds too many incidental charges. Customers can run up unexpected bills if they can’t accurately track usage.