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Smart Enterprise: Greater Expectations

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IT indicators with business indicators," says Reeves of CA Technologies, "your KPIs can start to identify things such as customer satisfaction or revenue cost incurred when a component slows down a transaction." Another important aspect of KPIs is set- ting thresholds. While IT sometimes thinks these thresholds should be set at very high performance levels or whatever the contract says, the key metric to consider — vague as it may sound — is user satisfaction. "The ultimate metrics are frustration and achievement," Drogseth says. Adds a capac- ity planner for a large consumer products company: "Given the choice between the highest recorded value and a happy user, choose the happy user." When monitoring transactions, iden- tifying the highest-impact components may be difficult. When that's the case, CIOs can graph IT indicators, such as CPU utilization and I/O, together with more business-oriented metrics such as trans- action times. By charting these indicators over a period of weeks or months, CIOs can determine which IT indicators correlate most closely with the business metrics, then take appropriate actions. When one of these indicators exceeds or falls below a threshold, it may be time for more cloud resources. To be sure, some components of transaction performance — such as network latency, CPU utilization and disk I/O — may not be readily accessible in the cloud. While traditional infrastructure providers offer users full access to servers, storage and other sys- tems they've paid for, SaaS providers will be less likely to allow customers to monitor infrastructure details — they want to provide access only to their software. But all that may soon change. CA Technologies, for one, is working with enterprise cloud providers to develop ways to either share that information or enable customers to monitor it. For now, when CIOs cannot gain access to preferred component KPIs, they can often find an "efficient proxy KPI" that closely mimics that preferred component, Kaminski adds. An example is the volume of two-way network traffic between a CIO's site and that of the service provider. Once a monitoring service is in place, information should continue to flow both ways. Ideally, proactive monitoring at both ends, and the exchange of this data, can catch performance drifts early and prevent big problems before they happen, says Bau- doin. He advocates the use of application program interfaces (APIs) and hooks into the service provider's management tools, where appropriate. This way, the client can query the supplier's quality reporting system. CIOs need providers to supply quality statistics, and providers need CIOs to monitor performance and quality information from their end, and then share that information. "That's the only way the two parties can agree on whether there is a real service-quality issue — or whether a few less-trained users are causing most of the problems," Baudoin says. ■ LEON ERLANGER is a freelance writer and consultant who specializes in security, unified communications and storage. DATA: Enterprise Management Associates, survey of 150 large (500+ employees) companies worldwide, 2010 Note: Multiple replies were permitted The Management Disciplines that Matter Percentage of cloud adopters rating as "important" or "very important" to managing cloud-based services: 0% 20 40 60 80 100 88% 84% 83% 80% 79% 75% Performance and availability monitoring Incident and problem management Change and configuration Capacity planning and optimization SLA reporting Application dependency mapping If only there were standards, CIOs would have an easier time evaluating and com- paring IT services in the cloud with their own on-premises services. That's the goal of the Cloud Service Measurement Index Consortium (CSMIC). Under the consortium's auspices, repre- sentatives from Carnegie Mellon University, CA Technologies, Stony Brook University and other business, academic and govern- ment organizations are working to create what they call the SMI Framework. When done, this framework will provide CIOs with a set of business-relevant key performance indicators (KPIs). Armed with these stan- dards, CIOs will have an easier time making the cloud vs. do-it-yourself decision and choosing a cloud provider. CSMIC is an ambitious undertaking. The consortium aims to develop standard KPIs for everything from IT service quality to agility, risk, security, capability and cost. What's more, it plans to conduct ongoing benchmarking and then provide a scoring system for services, based on its own KPIs. The group also intends to encourage CIOs to do the same and publish their own results online, using a CSMIC application programming interface (API), on cloudcommons.com. Going fur- ther, the consortium will also conduct user satisfaction surveys and post the results. When done, the framework will let CIOs compare IT services using weightings that tailor the scores to their own needs. "If security is your main concern, you can weight the results in its favor," explains Brian Hughes, VP of Strategy at CA Technologies and a consortium member. "The same goes for performance or cost." In addition, CSMIC will provide use- ful, tested KPIs that companies can use to monitor their own service levels. CIOs will then be able to compare those levels with other users of the same service, other services or even their own in-house capabil- ities. "This is a way to objectively measure the relative goodness — what we define as a set of more than 50 specific characteris- tics — of cloud services," Hughes adds. "The goal is also for management soware vendors to incorporate CSMIC- standard KPIs in their management tools," says Jeff Perdue, a Senior Scientist at Carnegie Mellon and Co-Director of Cloud Measurement for the CSMIC. Dra Version 0.5 of the Service Measurement Index can be found on cloudcommons.com today. Version 1.0 is slated for early 2011. –L.E. COMING SOON: A FRAMEWORK FOR CLOUD COMPARISONS )'('SMART ENTERPRISE 45

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