I’ve been pondering the on-going issues around transparency within the electric and heating utility services, and to be honest I’m a bit confused. I’m offered documents that try to explain it all but it’s written in a way that, to be honest, is less transparent than my bill!
Through working for a company that offers intelligent real-time monitoring for cloud services, I’m used to better treatment than that. For me the concept means that I should know at a glance exactly what I’m getting, how well am I being served and how much it’s costing me.
Cloud offers utility billing and services around bandwidth, data services, processing and storage all being managed as commodities, so that’s nice and easy. If we look at managing those essential business applications as an important part of transparency we need to ask specific questions of our cloud provider, questions such as; how much bandwidth do we use now and how much will I need to pay for with cloud computing? What networks (private, public or hybrid) will be used for my applications, how do you address issues such as; what happens if my applications are running slow, what about prioritising important applications, what happens if/when we have users who are having a poor experience?
With the utility model you just want to know its working and, if there is a problem, why this has occurred, how quickly it can be fixed and what the impact will be on your business! Transparency in managing all those important business applications is to ensure your cloud provider can answer all the above questions. Don’t trust anyone to say ‘oh it is all taken care of’ when there’s a chance it’s not! Make sure that whoever is looking after your networked business applications can provide you with a full report of exactly what amount of bandwidth you are getting for your money, the speed of your applications and the performance of those applications so that you can still guarantee a good experience for your users. There are application performance management (APM) technologies that not only monitor applications but can detect and report on any issues. It’s important to make sure that there are mechanisms in place so that when application performance falls below a certain threshold, alerts are issued and corrective action can be taken in a timely manner.
As the customer, whoever you choose to become your cloud provider, whether it’s a full or a part service, make sure that you are comfortable with the level of transparency offered. In the long run it will become essential, not only in understanding what you are getting but also in monitoring the long-term feasibility of your choice.