For many (most?) software vendors, a move to the cloud has transitioned from an abstract concept to an implementation discussion. ”How do we provide our software to our customers via the cloud?”
Fortunately, fueled by tremendous opportunity and open source technologies like Xen and the OpenStack initiative, there is tremendous choice of cloud infrastructure (IaaS) vendor.
Looking beyond the servers though, here are a few points to consider when evaluating your provider and the team that will be using and supporting your newly minted cloud solution.
1. Provisioning Automation
There is a great deal of potential automation available from your IaaS vendor, but there’s tremendous breadth within the market…and a lot more that could be offered moving forward. Key to the efficient management of any cloud is a sophisticated API leveraged by easy to use tools and interfaces. (CloudWatch
from AWS is a good example of a manually available monitoring system.) The greater the amount of abstraction that can be offered, the cheaper your cloud will be to operate from a human perspective.
2. License Management
Beyond the hardware, how are your software licenses going to be managed? This challenge incorporates security, automation, monitoring, and utilization.
3. Access Control & Security
A fundamental value proposition of cloud computing is scalability. To make available a theoretically infinite pool of compute resources to your organization or customers would have little meaning if IT needed to be called every time access was to be provided or expanded upon. Access must be controlled and secure, but it should not be a bottleneck.
4. Billing and Invoicing
Accounting for compute resource utilization by organizations within a company is important (as we come up against Tax Day here in the US). However, charging out to your customers in an automated way that fits industry business practices and expectations is crucial to ensure cloud success. How will you bill your customers? How will your customers pay? How will the use of compute resources be incorporated and combined with the use of software or services?
5. Server-side installs
In preparation for automated provisioning, setup and installation of software to be used within the cloud can take considerable time and resources. Automated replication of instances is crucial, but what about software that runs different jobs in parallel across multiple networked servers? How is the setup of clusters with their associated software stacks to be done while maintaining software licensing practices?
6. User Support
Now that your organization or customers are on the cloud, there is great opportunity to provide technical support remotely and in-line with your software. Which medium works best for your customers and your software? What solution providers are there in this arena? How do we integrate these new support mechanisms into existing processes?
7. User Management Tools & Analytics
More than ever before, cloud delivery of your software provides more statistics and data immediately useful to sales, marketing, and product management organizations. How is this data going to be captured, displayed, and ultimately used effectively?
8. Scale & IT Investment
All of the above comes into stark relief when a trial or proof-of-concept project proves attractive to customers and profitable to you as an organization. How do you scale your cloud offering across market segments and geographies? How do you scale the number of users and the varied use-models that the cloud enables? How do move on-boarding and delivery into the sales and marketing organization? How do you do all of this without investing in IT to the point that your cost-of-sales actually increases?
These are the types of questions we discuss with our customers all the time, and endeavor to provide solutions for. What challenges, “beyond the servers”, do you come across and consider as you make the transition to the cloud?
Posted under Xuropa, cloud