Monday, June 27, 2011

The Role of the Platform in Cloud Service Delivery

The Service Provider Challenge
To differentiate their cloud services and attract customers service providers need to offer service-level agreements (SLAs) to their enterprise customers for whom performance, security, and availability are paramount. To do this they need a converged infrastructure platform that allows them to address the concerns and challenges of their enterprise customers who might be reluctant to move their data center operations and applications to the cloud.

The Cloud Service Opportunity

The emergence of the cloud delivery model has created an opportunity for service providers to develop new services that meet the changing needs of their customers for consuming applications that support their business processes. To succeed in this evolving marketplace, service providers must offer added value when competing with established Over-the-Top (OTT) providers. The key to delivering a compelling service is to build it on a converged compute platform that is optimized for the cloud and uses its capabilities to offer SLAs that meet the needs of potential customers for assurances of application performance and availability. These SLAs can reassure customers that their applications are hosted on optimized platforms and delivered from reliable data centers, so that they will be consistently available, which is a motivator to enter in to longer-term contracts for organizations that are considering moving to the cloud-computing environment.

The Need for Service Assurance

In today’s business environment, service assurance has become more than a luxury for organizations that want to migrate to the cloud. Service assurance has become the primary differentiator that organizations are looking for when seeking support for delivery of their business-critical applications. With increasing concerns over service interruptions and the availability of workloads, companies might be reluctant to move their business-critical applications to the cloud or to move to Software as a Service (SaaS) applications without the backing of comprehensive SLAs that set high standards for service delivery and hold the service provider accountable for service outages. OTT providers have built their service on commodity platforms using their own set of tools for service creation. Their primary concern has been to keep costs down so that they can serve a broad public market, and quality of service guarantees have been an after though or are not available at all.

Choosing the Right Platform
Service providers, on the other hand, have the opportunity to serve the needs of enterprises that have a considerable investment in their business applications and will suffer high costs due to lost business during outages. As a result, service providers can benefit from building their service on a platform that allows them to deliver the service assurance that these large organizations require. To do this they can use a solution built on the VCE Vblock™ Infrastructure Platforms, based on the Cisco Unified Computing System™ (Cisco UCS™) to deliver high-quality SLAs to their customers for virtual machine availability and application performance. With end-to-end support, Vblock platforms offer a distinctive blend of agility and scalability in a converged infrastructure solutions package, allowing service providers to remain a cut above OTT providers and offer a premium service that addresses critical business needs of the large enterprise.

The Vblock Advantage

Service assurance has emerged as a primary differentiator for IT customers preparing to migrate to a virtualized environment. Without first-class SLAs to offer potential customers, service providers are at a disadvantage in the competitive environment. A firm, business-aligned SLA that provides compliance measuring and reporting requirements is often the determining factor in a prospective IT customer relationship.

Vblock platforms effectively counter the concerns of enterprises considering a migration into cloud computing, offering the optimum in IT solutions in an innovative cloud environment. Merging superior networking and computing services, using Cisco UCS, in a converged infrastructure, Vblock platforms deliver end-to-end services in one all-inclusive package, including storage, management, and virtualization software. These solutions offer many valuable features, including Trusted Multi-Tenancy and workload mobility. Service assurance offers a host of benefits to service providers seeking to introduce IT customers to a cloud environment.

The capabilities presented by service assurance built on Vblock include:

• Comprehensive SLAs
• Simplified deployment of services
• Reliable, highly-efficient cost model
• Ability to manage a high volume of customer demand

This innovative solution provides fluent workload distribution between multiple data centers, along with accelerated application performance levels and reliable security services. With the ever-increasing demands for predictable IT operations and aggressive cost reduction, Vblock platforms provide the framework for rapid service provisioning, the basis of a good customer relationship.

For More Information
See this paper: Cloud Service Assurance with Vblock Infrastructure Platforms

Article first published as Converged Infrastructure Platforms - The Key to Cloud Service Delivery on Technorati.

Backstory: I wrote the linked paper while at Cisco and wrote this blog to promote it. I also posted this blog on the Cisco Data Center blog site.

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