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Next Practices in Business Service Management

 

 

A Business Service Model for Cloud Computing
by Martin Jones

technology hype cycle

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:

cloud service model

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.

Other user interfaces provide administrative functions such as starting and stopping virtual machines or managing cloud storage. Consumers writing application code use different programming interfaces depending on the application they are writing. Consumers work with SLAs and contracts as well. Typically these are negotiated via human intervention between the consumer and the provider. The expectations of the consumer and the reputation of the provider are a key part of those negotiations.

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:

  • For Software as a Service, the provider installs, manages and maintains the software. The provider does not necessarily own the physical infrastructure in which the software is running. Regardless, the consumer does not have access to the infrastructure; they can access only the application.
  • For Platform as a Service, the provider manages the cloud infrastructure for the platform, typically a framework for a particular type of application. The consumer’s application cannot access the infrastructure underneath the platform.
  • For Infrastructure as a Service, the provider maintains the storage, database, message queue or other middleware, or the hosting environment for virtual machines. The consumer uses that service as if it were a disk drive, database, message queue, or machine, but they cannot access the infrastructure that hosts it.

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
the basic cloud computing services such as processing power, storage and middleware. The virtual images controlled by the VM manager include both the images themselves and the metadata required to manage them.

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.
At a higher level, management involves billing to recover costs, capacity planning to ensure that consumer demands will be met, SLA management to ensure that the terms of service agreed to by the provider and consumer are adhered to, and reporting for administrators.

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
providers.

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.

During business service creation, analytics involve remote debugging to test the service before it is published to consumers. Once the service is published, analytics allow developers to monitor the performance of their service and make changes as necessary.

A quick note on service level management: Although service level agreements for end users will usually be
much simpler than those for enterprises, cloud vendors must be clear about what guarantees of service they provide.

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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