The cloud is similar to a department store, with each area of the store offering different types of merchandise. Large department stores use a mix of internal staff and outside partners to stock their shelves. The cloud will operate similarly, offering a variety of services for different aspects of the same business. Your staff will deliver some of these services, others from external suppliers.
Regardless of who is delivering the service, the ultimate goal is the same – delivering excellent customer service, which leads to business success. Understanding how happy your customers are with your service will indicate to you whether or not your cloud services are delivering or exceeding you and your customers’ expectations.
When using cloud services, monitoring is essential to ensure your services are providing the service levels your customers need and expect. There are many solutions to help you achieve a good level of monitoring in the cloud, looking at real-time user performance, errors and availability.
You will not be able to ensure this level of customer satisfaction unless you have a clear understanding of how your customers and users are experiencing the cloud. Here are six recommendations to help you access service assurance for your cloud services.
1. Understand the bigger picture
Cloud services utilize multiple infrastructure resources, including databases and applications. The people using these services, however, have no interest in understanding the resources supporting these services. They simply view the interaction as one transaction that begins when they initiate a session and ends when they complete their transaction.
This means you should be monitoring each customer transaction from start to finish, across all components, internal or external. End-to-end monitoring allows you to capture the true user experience.
2. Access real-time information
Real-time user-experience monitoring is much like a thermometer, providing you with the “temperature” and, therefore, the health of your IT infrastructure anytime. If you use real-time monitoring, then you will be able to detect potential issues early on and have the opportunity to address them before your customers even know there was an issue. This type of monitoring also provides you with information about the amount of business actually occurring through the cloud at any given time.
The information your real-time monitoring records can be useful in a historical context as well, helping you identify trends that will help you with planning and decision-making.
3. How do people use your services?
Users view the cloud from a service perspective and not from an application or database perspective. As a result, simply monitoring individual applications and databases is not enough. You must monitor how people are using these resources.
- Which applications and databases are they accessing, when and for what purpose?
- What access devices are they using, and from where?
This type of behavioral information provides a service view of the end-user experience exactly as users see it.
4. Understand the end-to-end service
A third party normally provides a cloud service, but there will almost always be services that originate from your internal IT services. This means it is very important any end-user-experience monitoring provides you with the information you need to understand how individual parts of the service are performing, whether these are from your internal infrastructure, or the cloud provider is delivering them. This allows you to see how each components of the services is impacting the end-user experience. You can use this information to help increase diagnosis-problem resolution.
5. Track the impact of change
Cloud computing makes it possible for IT to be more agile when the team must respond to business demands, however, this, in turn, means change must become more frequent, and this frequency can result in more potential problems.
Any infrastructure change can have a negative effect on the quality of your service performance. You must be able to assess quickly the possible risks and impact of a change. You shouldn’t slow change, because agility is a major contributor to business success in the modern world, but you must monitor carefully and be aware of the possibility of follow-on issues from change and how to mitigate them.
6. Understand all service components
You need insight into all services, whether internal or external suppliers provide them. One issue to keep in mind is your external cloud providers will not normally allow you to look inside their infrastructures to access performance data.
Monitoring the end-user experience can provide you with the information you need to determine the performance of all service components, including those from third parties.
This means if your service degrades, then you will have the information you need to start your troubleshooting quickly and with good data.
Moving beyond IT operations
There is huge value in the data you collect from end-user-experience monitoring. This information delivers value to service managers, because performance issues will become more visible, allowing them to assign quickly the right people to an incident or problem. Application developers will see how the performance of their apps is affecting the user community and line-of-business managers can see how customers are utilizing their business services.
Cloud services are reaching a point where any business simply expects consistent uptime. Businesses must expand their cloud-assurance techniques to ensure their provider is delivering the agreed service and allowing you to deliver an appropriate level of service to your customers.
Kepner-Tregoe has been an industry leader in problem-solving techniques, training and consulting for more than 60 years. Companies large and small in all industries use KT methods to improve employee productivity, build better products and solve some very big operational problems. To learn more about how KT can help your company.