Like it or not (for what it’s worth, I like it a lot!) Cloud Computing is here to stay, and as I’ve stated before in this blog, it is going to change a great deal of the IT landscape, including the future profile and role of corporate IT groups.  But there are some indirect consequences of Cloud Computing that in of themselves could have a profound impact.

How Can You Measure and Compare Service Providers – Including Yourself?

What does it really cost you to deliver a given service?  How does that cost change as you adjust service quality parameters?  How does it change if you incorporate elasticity into service quality – allowing, for example, for peak loads to increase by a factor of 100 on, say, Valentine’s Day?

These questions have never been easy to answer.  Even with attention to Service Management, and with the use of frameworks such as the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL), most IT shops are not great at measuring these things.  Then, along comes Cloud Computing, with some very appealing value propositions, and potentially, a quick way to offer business services, flexible service levels and agile platforms.  Just how well do the various cloud vendors perform?  How can you compare one vendor against another – or against your internal service capabilities and performance?

To help answer these questions, there’s a new game in town called the Service Measurement Index. According to the Cloud Commons web site:

Hailed as an industry first, the Service Measurement Index (SMI) is a set of business-relevant Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) that provide a standardized method for measuring and comparing a business service regardless of whether that service is internally provided or sourced from an outside company. Designed to become a standard method to help organizations measure business services based on their specific business and technology requirements, the SMI enables individual preferences to be the basis for what defines a good service.”

The SMI framework, originally created by CA Technologies, was recently transferred to the Cloud Service Measurement Initiative Consortium (CSMIC) to be independently developed and run.  The CSMIC is a consortium of academic institutions and representatives of business and government that is led by Carnegie Mellon University – source of the Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI).  The CSMIC currently comprises four Working Groups:

  • Service Characteristics & Definitions (includes Taxonomy)
  • Measures and Metrics
  • Literature and Relationship Review
  • Adoption and Strategy

The SMI Framework

The SMI Framework provides an holistic view into the entire customer experience for cloud service providers in six primary areas:

  • Quality
  • Agility
  • Risk
  • Capability
  • Cost
  • Security

Somewhere between JD Power & Associates and Consumer Reports, the SMI promises to provide a standardized way to describe, measure and, ultimately, benchmark service providers using ‘apples to apples’ comparisons.  Users of the SMI Framework should be able to compare cloud service vendors against their specific business and technology requirements.  They should also be able to make real-time decisions about where and how best to migrate or deploy an application.

Tackling the Largest Part of the IT Budget

While the White House attempts to reign in an ever expanding budget deficit by nibbling around the edges, most IT shops realize that the largest component of their budget goes to “keeping the lights on and the trains running on time.”  Making a serious dent in this budget could free up money and resources for higher value activities.

The jury is still out as to whether cloud computing will live up to all its claims for cost-effectiveness, but with the SMI, at least over time we will have the means to make those comparisons and make informed decisions about how best to source computing resources and services.

Join Me In a Live Conversation About The Cloud

As a reminder, I head out this week across the US for a series of CIO Forums about Threats and Opportunities In The Cloud.   Please click on the link for details and to sign up for this event!

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