A Business Service Model for Cloud Computing
In my opinion, the"hype cycle" (source) for cloud computing is rapidly approaching the "peak of inflated expectations" and in some cases has already reached the "trough of disillusionment." That is to say, the folk at Gartner are busy explaining how your company may have already missed the boat:
In the real world, however, we're noticing that companies (mine included) are looking at a service delivery model to understand and manage the Enterprise cloud. With all those years of investment in ITIL, it's a good idea to use your common understanding, and extend it to the cloud service provider community. As a corollary, this is a minimum requirement to create a model for business service management of cloud based services as well.
The business service delivery model might look something like this - as initially proposed by the Cloud Computing Use Case Discussion Group:
The business service consumer use the services provided through the cloud, business service providers manage the cloud infrastructure and business service developers create the services themselves. (Notice that open standards are needed for the interactions between these roles.)
The Business Service Consumer
The business service consumer is the end user or enterprise that actually uses the service, whether it is Software, Platform or Infrastructure as a Service.
Depending on the type of service and their role, the consumer works
with different user interfaces and programming interfaces. Some
user interfaces look like any other application; the consumer does
not need to know about cloud computing as they use the application.
The Business Service Provider
The business service provider delivers the service to the consumer. The actual task of the provider varies depending on the type of service:
In the service provider diagram, the lowest layer of the stack is the firmware and
hardware on which everything else is based. Above that is the software kernel,
either the operating system or virtual machine manager that hosts the
infrastructure beneath the cloud. The virtualized resources and images include
Crucial to the service provider’s operations is the management layer. At a low
level, management requires metering to determine who uses the services and to
what extent, provisioning to determine how resources are allocated to
consumers, and monitoring to track the status of the system and its resources.
Of course, security applies to all aspects of the service provider’s operations. (The many
levels of security requirements are beyond the scope of this paper.) Open
standards apply to the provider’s operations as well. A well-rounded set of
standards simplify operations within the provider and interoperability with other
The Business Service Developer
The business service developer creates, publishes and monitors the cloud service. These are typically "line-of-business" applications that are delivered directly to end users via the SaaS model. Applications written at the IaaS and PaaS levels will subsequently be used by SaaS developers and cloud providers.
Development environments for service creation vary. If developers
are creating a SaaS application, they are most likely writing code for
an environment hosted by a cloud provider. In this case, publishing
the service is deploying it to the cloud provider’s infrastructure.
A quick note on service level management: Although service level agreements for end users will usually be
Problems with the Business Service Model
There are some obvious challenges with this model. First and foremost, the service consumer may decide that the service provider cannot be trusted to monitoring the SLAs. Hence we might well see an emerging industry of third-party business service management providers who provide monitoring services to both the service provider and the service consumer.
So what will these third-party management providers measure? My bet is that they will promote a "quality of experience" metric, from the consumer perspective. In fact the capability is already there.
But more importantly, they will also be capable of providing business service management services based on select KPIs. These will be cross-enterprise metrics based on business processes that span supply chain partners, for example. What's more, the ability to develop and deploy services in real time will create agile enterprise connections not seen before.
In my next article, I'll discuss what these cross-enterprise KPIs might be.
Martin Jones is a business operations executive at a leading technology company. He is writing a book based on his experience leading mission-critical, enterprise application migrations to the cloud.
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