If Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is the future we have to pay closer attention to the service levels users are getting. Obvious? Maybe not. The fact is if users can't access a cloud-based service they are going to call IT, not the service provider. Users don't care if the problem is located in infrastructure operated by IT, the ISP or the cloud service provider.
Here are six myths that can derail your use of the cloud, all of them grounded in a general belief that once we move to the cloud IT no longer owns direct responsibility for service levels. Falling for them can put you on a path to protracted service outages and frustrated users. In addition, I try to shed light on what's needed to fill in some of the gaps that exist when it comes to monitoring SaaS applications:
* "I don't need to monitor. I have a guaranteed SLA from the provider." Your SaaS service provider is likely able to run their data centers with higher availability than most IT organizations, but they are not 100%. Service level guarantees are great, but if you aren't monitoring your SaaS service, how do you know your SLA is actually being met? In addition, service level guarantees only cover outages the provider can control, i.e. their own networks, servers and applications, not any of your infrastructure and not the Internet service providers that connect you. You're on your own to monitor and manage those.
* "I don't need my own monitoring tools. I use the service provider dashboard." As with the guarantees themselves, service health dashboards only cover the service provider's infrastructure, not the end-to-end service. These dashboards provide generic information that may or may not be relevant to your users and may not be up to date. Remember, they are built to be general status communication tools, not real-time monitoring solutions.
* "I didn't monitor your previous hosted email service. Why monitor Office 365 now?" Consuming apps from the cloud is not the same as consuming managed/hosted services. Managed Service Providers (MSPs) and Hosters are often running dedicated infrastructure for you and monitor those services on your behalf. Those services often extend to provide monitoring and management of your on-premise infrastructure as well. While there are managed service providers offering value-added services around Office 365, if you buy directly or through a reseller, you have to monitor the solution yourself.
* "My existing tools monitor my cloud apps as well as my on-premise apps." Not really. Most traditional systems management solutions (e.g., CA, BMC, Tivoli, System Center) are designed to monitor systems where they have direct access to the applications, servers, log files and SNMP messages. They are not built to monitor services where the majority of the service infrastructure lies outside the IT periphery. Network management tools tend to focus on low level protocol and network device monitoring and diagnostics, and are not built to monitor user experience. Both of these tools can be difficult and costly to use.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.