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Cloud SLAs: Is There A Rainbow on the Horizon?

Cloud SLAs: Is There A Rainbow on the Horizon?

At the MSPWorld trade show at Miami last week, attendees asked how to hold their cloud provider responsible for slow application performance. Also, attendees wanted to know how to avoid the next catastrophic outage and ensure the SLAs penalized the cloud provider for missing promised targets.

Hmm, is the cloud service provider really responsible for your application's performance in the Cloud?

  • Maybe its your network or Internet provider.
  • Perhaps the DNS service provided by your friendly domain registrar.
  • Or could the issue involve a slow CRM API provided by another SaaS provider that your application interfaces with?
One thing became pretty obvious from the active panel discussion and the audience: Trying to create an SLA with so many interdependent components and so many owners is not trivial. Worse - there is no obligation today for the different providers to share any data on their IaaS or PaaS performance, even if this data is available to them.

While selecting a cloud provider of any kind, you will need to get transparency of their service performance metrics, and availability of their performance metrics using APIs. The performance of their infrastructure is not as relevant as performance of the service they are providing -- they might have redundancy and other design elements that might not impact their service even if their infrastructure fails, so getting their infrastructure performance metrics might not be relevant.

You will also need a monitoring platform that has open APIs to aggregate the performance data from different cloud providers and gives you a composite metric mapping into the performance of your service. And finally, your monitoring platform has to be able to provide a service oriented view of these performance metrics and not just traditional metrics like CPU and memory.

As more enterprises move to cloud based services and infrastructure, their desire to work with a single vendor will force them to gravitate towards "cloud service aggregators" -- a single vendor aggregating services from various cloud providers. However, the enterprises will demand SLAs from the aggregate providers, and this will require some way to identify the responsible partner for failed SLAs or outages. There will be a need to get automated performance and SLA metrics from different downstream partners and correlate this data to provide aggregate SLAs for the enterprise. This requires transparency in operations, open APIs and uniform SLA measurements, and even though not prevalent today, this will become a necessity in the near future.

Vikas Aggarwal is CEO of Zyrion Inc., a provider of Cloud and Application Performance Monitoring software for large to mid enterprises and Service Providers. You can read more about Zyrion’s monitoring solution here. Monthly guest blogs such as this one are part of MSPmntor’s annual platinum sponsorship.
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