One of the key challenges for Service Providers as they gain traction in the cloud market is achieving a balance between offering a broad, rich catalog of services to the market and cost containment. Doing the former can quickly mean a blowout of the latter.
Achieving that balance requires consideration & intelligent management of service design, service provisioning, & cloud resources:
1. Service Design:
To satisfy customer needs and drive increased revenue, Service Providers need to offer a Service Catalog that supports a huge range of service options encompassing different:
· Infrastructure options & models
· Deployment options – private or public cloud?
· Monitoring & compliance requirements
· Options for specific vertical markets that the Service Provider may want to target
How can Service Providers offer these different permutations of services without driving up the costs of management & deployment? A lot of our service provider customers have struggled in the past with hundreds of service templates – every time a user wants something slightly different from the standard template design, a new template has had to be created. This not only blows out costs but also decreases agility in cloud service provisioning.
The power of Service Blueprints
The answer that many of our Service Provider customers have found to this challenge is to use model-driven service design with Service Blueprints to limit the number of services that need to be managed while maintaining choice for the customer. Service blueprints enable a standard application model to be designed for a service and then a whole range of options to be layered on top; options such as infrastructure deployment sizes, technology architectures, monitoring and compliance requirements and additional applications. One service blueprint can support hundreds or thousands of different service permutations! This enables the Service Provider to provide their customers with a rich, configurable, option based service catalog to their customers while minimizing the ongoing administration & maintenance costs associated with updating, patching and maintaining many different services.
2. Service Provisioning
So, when service providers have addressed the challenge of offering a broad range of services cost-effectively, they also need to address the challenge of driving down the cost of service provisioning. The big win here is automation – across the data center covering server, network, database, application & middleware automation. To fully drive down the ongoing cost of cloud administration, service providers need a cloud management platform that automates end-to-end service delivery from customer request via a self-service portal through deployment to invoicing and automates the provisioning of all layers of the stack – storage, compute & networking. Automation should not only drive out the labor costs involved in the day to day management & deployment of cloud services but also maintain ongoing configuration and compliance of services and automate change management. Automation presents huge benefits to Service Providers as they strive to offer value added services to the market.
3. Managing Resources
Optimizing resource usage is essential to helping Service Providers manage costs associated with delivering a broad range of cloud services – primarily through capacity management & intelligent placement of cloud services.
Workloads have different characteristics such as required service levels, infrastructure requirements, monitoring and compliance requirements. All of this can determine where it best makes sense for that cloud service to be placed:
- On premise?
- In a private cloud – whether that is managed or hosted or virtual?
- Or in the public cloud?
The placement of a particular workload can have a big impact on cost. Service Providers need a cloud platform that provides a view out in to the different deployment options available and can place services intelligently depending on the requirements defined for that particular service in the service blueprint.
Proactive capacity management that provides visibility into resource usage in the cloud and early notification of capacity issues enables Service Providers to ensure they can avoid the overcapacity issues that lead to higher costs and the under capacity issues that lead to missed SLAs and lost revenue. There may be resources that have been allocated to a customer that are not being used – these can be repurposed for other customers.
Maximizing usage of resources also refers to leveraging existing resources – maintaining infrastructure neutrality to be able to utilize infrastructure already invested in and maintain choice in the future– and offer that benefit to customers as well!
So, the balance can be achieved – with a cloud management platform that addresses Model-Driven Service Design, Automated Service Provisioning and intelligent resource management – Service Providers can achieve that utopia of offering a broad, rich service catalog to the market while minimizing costs.
Click here to watch the video ‘Model Driven Service Design: The value for cloud service providers’ to find out more about how service blueprints enable service providers to take a flexible, option-based approach when designing cloud services.