Building trust between cloud providers and users with APM
A year ago to date, the European Commission published the results of a study on the economic impact of cloud computing in the Digital Single Market. It found that 303,000 new businesses, in particular SMEs, could be created between 2015 and 2020 through the development of cloud computing.
SLAs and cloud monitoring
This cloud computing study points to the need for application performance monitoring in cloud contexts, as regards metrics for SLAs (service level agreements). For instance, it stresses that the “SLA specifies the technical conditions of service delivery (e.g. the extent of guaranteed availability as a percentage), and should enhance the trust of cloud users in the ability of the cloud provider to deliver services based on agreed terms. This is particularly important for professional users of cloud computing.”
Monitoring the performance of cloud-distributed applications or SaaS is the only way to keep an eye precisely on the quality of the services delivered. This goes a long way to building trust when the same metrics are available to both the cloud customer and the cloud provider.
Pain points of cloud providers and cloud users
The EU has been busy with efforts to define practical frameworks to promote public, scientific, and business usages of the cloud in the Digital Single Market. One EU project, specifically focused on the implementation of cloud SLAs, identified “pain points” on the part of cloud adopters (businesses migrating to the cloud), as well as the “pain points” of cloud service providers.
Cloud providers indicated that one major pain is to ensure that they have the ‘admin and tools to monitor internally that we are meeting our SLAs’. The challenge of monitoring and administering monitoring tools is one issue. Yet even supposing cloud providers are able to manage their own SLA monitoring, they also report that ‘few people ask us to provide these measures.’ Here lies a significant communication problem, a barrier to building trust.
At the same time, a big pain for customers migrating to the cloud is that “we no longer have the same control that we once had when we provided the service internally.” In other words, they have no way of knowing where/when performance issues occur. This means that existing cloud performance metrics are not being communicated or used constructively by both sides (possibly because the cloud providers conduct measures internally, as indicated above).
Furthermore, according to the study, the situation is summed up for cloud customers and providers in the question “how are uptime and availability calculated?” How can each side be sure of how metrics are measured and whether the indicators mean the same thing to the other party and across providers?
APM to the rescue
These three things – monitoring, communication of metrics, and transparency of indicators – are pains that application performance management specialists can alleviate. APM providers operate as third-party specialists to supply impartial measurements to both sides using tools designed for that purpose. The basis for the calculation of uptime and availability, for example, can be made entirely transparent. APM Monitoring tools calculate indicators and display them in reports that are meaningful to both the cloud provider and the cloud customer.
But APM doesn’t stop there. The relationship of trust between the cloud customer (adopter, user, etc.) and the cloud provider is only one part of a larger strategy – that of ensuring smooth, fast service for end users of applications. Performance should be measured not only on the cloud portion, but outside the cloud as well – for example down to application troubleshooting or last-mile coverage. This shows whether performance problems come under the cloud provider’s responsibility or are caused by issues at other levels.