Cloud providers increasingly offer enterprise-caliber SLAs
The 99.9 per cent and 100 per cent uptime claims by cloud vendors are, in a word, marketing. Uptime guarantees do not mean a cloud provider is also capable of meeting business-critical requirements. Imad Mouline, the CTO of performance monitoring firm Lexington, Mass.-based Gomez Inc., which recently became a division of Compuware Corp., says what customers want to know is whether cloud providers can, for instance, deliver content as quickly on the East Coast as they do on the West Coast. How good are their network connections? And being able to add capacity in response to surging business demands isn't enough. What may matter most is how quickly a cloud provider can add this capacity. IT managers will want ">service level agreements (SLAs) with cloud providers that allow them to sleep at night, said Mouline. "Otherwise, the cloud will remain a nice sandbox," he said. In other words, it'll be used mainly as a place for application testing and development.
New technologies will improve cloud use and performance
Riverbed Technology Inc., a San Francisco-based company that makes WAN optimization technology (and has managed to post doubt-digit growth rates during the recession), is making the core services provided by its hardware appliance into a virtual system for use in the cloud. It plans to release this product sometime in 2010. The trend will be for third parties to increasingly focus on adapting data center technologies to cloud environments, including tools to help reduce the cost of "on-boarding," or moving applications into the cloud.
Cloud providers address security concerns
In March, a broad range of companies, both vendors and cloud users, formed the Cloud Security Alliance to create a consensus on the issue of security. "Security is the number one inhibitor to cloud adoption," said Justin Steinman, a Novell Inc. vice president and a member of the Alliance. There are, for instance, a variety of legal and technology issues to address. As an example, if a payroll services provider conducts services in a third-party cloud and there's a breach of sensitive consumer data, who's liable? Who owns the data? And who sues whom?
Steinman envisions these questions being resolved, in part, through tough SLAs with cloud providers that have "drastic penalties" if things go wrong. Users can also expect to see technologies that enable cloud providers to meet different customer security requirements. There may also be a push for regulatory changes that take into account cloud services.
Performance monitoring will become ubiquitous
Cloud services are largely public, consumer-delivery services, and whenever any of the big cloud providers has a data center hiccup it's immediately noticed. Cloud providers are under increasing pressure for tell-all reports on their outages, and there's near-constant scrutiny from a seemingly increasing number of third parties with comparative score cards and glitch reports. Don't be surprised if you turn on the TV in the morning and get not only weather and traffic updates, but news about the performance of cloud services as well. ">Performance monitoring will be as common as rush hour traffic reports.
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