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To keep cloud customers happy, you need to monitor your services

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HP20150205548_cloud service monitoring.jpg

 

By Gerben Verstraete

 

Gerben Verstraete works in the CTO office of HP Software Professional Services, with a focus on BSM, security and the transformation of IT operations.

 

No matter what line of work you’re in, customer service is all about generating repeat business. Cloud services are no exception. Unless you can deliver a seamless and pleasant experience, your users will eventually go elsewhere. But you’d be surprised by how many enterprise IT departments don’t have a clear view into the services they’re providing. A global manufacturer I recently spoke with, for example, has several contracts with public cloud providers. They’ve moved workloads into the cloud, but they haven’t formulated a plan for how to manage those workloads and ensure how SLAs are being met.

 

Whether you’re supplying private cloud, acting as a broker for external services, or providing a combination of both, you need to manage and monitor your services to be sure you’re meeting your customers’ needs. An end-to-end view of cloud service supply, delivery, and demand will also pinpoint any wasted resources and help you better predict future cloud spend.

 

When HP Software Professional Services reviewed applications that several organizations are running in the cloud, we discovered that some of them need only about nine to eleven hours of coverage. But the environment operates 24/7, so that means the company ends up paying for more resources than it uses. We also didn’t have any visibility into how well those services were being provided. So how do you head off such problems? Find out by reading this HP white paper: Cloud service lifecycle—service monitoring (registration required).

 

Shift left when designing cloud services

In another case, the VP of operations at a financial services customer recently shared a report that showed single-digit utilization for private cloud resources. A total waste. To avoid such scenarios, you need to start thinking about how you plan to optimize and monitor service delivery before you build your applications and services. This shift left strategy requires you to ask a number of questions when you design your services:

  • What are some of the characteristics I want to measure?
  • How do I make sure that I can measure performance?
  • How do I reclaim wasted resources?
  • What type of instrumentation do I need to be able to monitor services?
  • How can I better predict server volumes and therefore OpEx cash flow?

 

In the Open Group’s IT4IT reference architecture, this approach falls under the first of the four IT value chains, strategy to portfolio.

 

Once you’ve deployed an application, you can start collecting metrics based on instrumentation, using sensors to gather data on application performance, utilization, and basic topology, such as how things are connected and where the application(s) lives. You should profile the application’s footprint, assessing how it behaves, and examine peak usage so that you can flex back to reclaim resources or flex out to accommodate increased user demand.

 

Monitoring as a service provider and a service broker

Monitoring doesn’t have to be intrusive. By looking holistically across all your cloud providers, private and public, you have to collect metrics and use them to optimize your services; e.g., this means sharing the metrics with developers but also with your service delivery and portfolio managers, to make decisions about and drive better relationships with your cloud providers.

 

What you monitor and what KPIs you care about will vary depending on whether you’re a cloud service provider, service broker, or both. As a service provider, you need to make sure your (provisioning) technology stack works, as well as monitor the services and show transparency to the consumer.

 

When you’re a service broker such as internal IT, you typically might have an internal provisioning stack but will also provide services to the business. You need to look at the instrumentation to assess how to manage XaaS providers and applications used by your end customers in the cloud. You should monitor the application as well as the performance of the cloud itself, to make sure SLAs are being met.

 

As services become truly hybrid and increasingly complex, so too will the management to ensure service levels inclusive of compliance and security. While there is a sense of trust required with your providers, as a service broker you will have to ensure you have visibility and are able to manage across services, which means putting sensors where needed. Big Data analytics capabilities can help you make sense of the metrics you collect, analyze application usage over time, and detect anomalies that could indicate availability and performance issues as well as security threats. They will also help predict what compute resources you’re going to need and provide a clearer forecast of your OpEx.

 

To learn more about how cloud service monitoring can help you deliver services in a way that keeps your customers happy, read this HP white paper: Cloud service lifecycle—service monitoring (registration required).

 

Gerben.jpgGerben Verstraete works in the CTO Office with HP Software Professional Services, a role which includes defining implementation strategies for global Fortune 500 customers. Mr. Verstraete is also responsible for the go-to-market services strategies for HP’s software , services, and solution portfolio inclusive of data center transformation and in particular the transformation of IT operations. He regularly leads critical client engagements acting in CIO and VP/IT strategic advisory roles.

 

 

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