Benchmarking Operational Improvements in Cloud Computing
Cloud computing has become an integral part of many companies’ strategic business plans. But does outsourcing IT to a cloud service provider really improve operational efficiency and reduce costs? How do you measure the difference?
It’s not until you understand what benefits you expect the cloud to provide that you can build a list of metrics that matter to you.
To make sure your cloud provider will help your company achieve its business goals, start by understanding the business process you’re trying to improve, says Forrester Research Senior Analyst Dave Bartoletti. Are your internal applications too expensive or too costly to maintain? Do they lack the latest features or is the response time too slow from your existing IT organization?
Not all applications are good fits for cloud today, Bartoletti added. “Make sure you align your apps with the types of cloud they can leverage. Cloud is good for packaged apps you want someone to run for you and for highly elastic apps for which you need elastic capacity.”
Renting software in the cloud rather than licensing it lets you take advantage of the rapid release cycles offered by SaaS software providers, and having the latest software releases immediately available could enhance operational efficiency.
Moving development to the cloud with either infrastructure as a service or platform as a service could lend itself to higher developer productivity, faster release cycles and faster time to market for your company’s new apps or services. In terms of business efficiency, the cloud provides an ideal opportunity for companies to get new products and services to market faster without the typical delays of provisioning new infrastructure in data centers, Bartoletti said.
To analyze whether a particular cloud provider will optimize operational efficiency, Bartoletti recommends taking an honest assessment of your own internal performance history and then talking to reference customers of your own size and industry type. Analyze how often you meet your own IT SLAs, and set expectations for your cloud vendor.
After you choose your provider, your company will need to monitor performance. Bartoletti recommends building your own cloud monitoring practice. “First thing to do after you deploy to cloud is to make it someone’s job to track performance, availability and usage by department, as well as ongoing spend,” he said.
“Don’t rely solely on monitoring tools provided by the cloud provider; put your own monitoring team in place to track how much you are using, costs and actual performance. You can use this along with the many emerging cloud cost monitoring tools on the web to not only make sure you’re using cloud services optimally, but whether or not it makes more sense to try another cloud.
“There’s a vibrant market for cloud cost monitoring tools,” he said. “Take advantage of them.”
For more thought provoking cloud management insights visit vmware-erdos.com.