In a parody of a popular TV programme where so called celebrities are put in the jungle to test their mettle I have applied this to the jungle of choosing a cloud service.  Madness I hear you say and you may be right but bear with me for now.

The input to this thinking came from my participation in a roundtable of learned people on the supply and buy side of cloud services.  If you are a consumer there are numerous web sites that allow to you to find and compare products, look at reviews and pricing to help you make an informed choice.  There are websites for those looking to compare cloud computing service providers, comparethecloud and behindeverycloud are two UK-based initiatives.  Forums organised by EuroCloud and Cloud Industry Forum provide access to experts in the field of cloud computing.  So now you have some sources for information and guidance on selecting cloud services and providers.

Back to the story.  What I learned from the roundtable was another perspective on the selection of applications and computing workloads to put in the cloud based on decision about ‘Quality of Service’.

On the buy side:

You have a ton of investment in IT, it is business DNA and 24/7.  There are always new opportunities, the cloud is one, and the demands of modern business put ever more strain on IT resources and the need to serve up innovation.  “Our competitors are on our tail, what are we doing in IT (a reference to the department) to distance them?”

On the supply side:

We’ve got lots of stuff to sell.  We have big investments in assets (DCs, NOCs) and highly skilled people on the bench that need to be on projects.  We have got to get our customers committing to projects and demonstrate the value to the business of those projects.  Who do we target and how do we pitch the conversation?

Now I’m not going to deliver any silver bullets here as I set out to put ‘Quality of Service’ on the table and do so now with a supply side led perspective.

Start to develop a storyline around IT as a service and link to this to a future vision of IT for your customers’ business.  This does not have to be a distant future it just has to be vision where you help customers make value judgements about the investments they make in IT.  These are not purely technical judgements they interlace with the business outcome so you need to understand your customers’ business ‘what’s on the table’ challenges. 

For example, an application that must be available 24/7 and under the control of the customer because in their opinion the data is so commercially sensitive they are not yet ready to consider any alternative to ‘in-house’, is a quality of service statement.  In this case they will pay whatever is required for that quality of service because of its importance.  

What is a cause for concern?  Perhaps the balance of costs and value are not aligned and is seen as a  ‘problem’ looking for a solution.  What are the options to deliver a quality of service that align cost and value?  

What needs to get done quickly while sparing cash?  What defines quality of service that delivers speed with economy and what are the options?  Development and testing falls in this category.

We have a bunch of ideas but limited financial backing to put those ideas to test and our ‘fail fast’ methods dictate urgency.  We need IT on a budget.  What is the quality of service to meet this need?

These are just a few examples and with time more could be developed.  The idea and suggestion is to collaborate with your customers where you are helping them to develop ideas that move away from thinking about ‘cloud’ and focus on the tangible and intangible delivery of IT as a service and the qualities of those services.

Where is this leading to?

A quality of service matrix where you and the customer populate the matrix to identify opportunity areas and a vision and tick the box or not for applications and computing workloads that might be considered for cloud.

Thanks to Equinix for hosting the roundtable.

Disclosure:  I am a Board member of EuroCloud UK.