For many organizations, cloud computing has transitioned from a hyped buzzword into a reality in regards to their business operations. Many more enterprises are realizing the benefits of remote hosting IT services rather than local IT management, especially as managing and operating IT networks and services is not getting any easier.
Managing IT networks requires a broad set of competencies in a growing number of technologies and products. Release management and deployment can present a number of challenges that can impact IT service availability. It makes sense, therefore, that these competencies are centralized in larger data centers that provide cloud services to a number of smaller enterprises for which IT is not a core competency.
Larger data centers also means larger installations with higher-speed interfaces, as well as an obligation to maintain service availability. This requires extensive test and management capabilities to ensure service up-time. Will test and management of cloud services differ from how they are performed today, though? What are the special challengers that cloud service providers face in this regard?
Challenges of Testing and Managing Cloud Services
The first and fundamental challenge of providing cloud services is service availability. If enterprise customers are to adopt cloud services, rather than maintaining local installations, they must be convinced that they can access the services and data that they need, whenever they need them, without experiencing undue delays. The cloud service must look and feel as though it is local despite the fact that it is hosted remotely.
This leads to the second challenge: service assurance. How can the cloud service provider assure timely delivery, and even service availability, when it does not control the data communication connection between the cloud service and the enterprise customer? Does the data communication provider have the monitoring infrastructure in place to assure service-level agreements (SLA)? Does the cloud service provider have the monitoring infrastructure in place to assure the services provided?
The final challenge is service efficiency in all its aspects; this involves cost, space, and power efficiency, through efficient and scalable delivery of services using virtualization, efficient servers, and high-speed interfaces. In this regard, the accompanying monitoring infrastructure must also follow the same principles.