I Want My Metadata: A Call For Greater Cloud Computing Transparency

Author

Joe McKendrick, Contributor

June 30, 2015

Public cloud providers are replacing internal corporate data centers at a rapid pace. Technology and functions get handed over to a cloud provider. One thing appears to be missing, however: transparency. There is some important information– including performance, configuration and operations of each cloud workload, along with billing data — that isn’t made available to cloud users. As a result, cloud consumers are risking financial or operational impacts due to missing or hidden metadata.

That’s the key takeaway from a new survey of 275 IT leaders conducted by Forrester Consulting that finds there are negative financial, operational and strategic impacts when customers are denied crucial metadata and effective customer support. The survey was underwritten by iland, an enterprise cloud hosting provider.

The report’s message is clear: demand more from your cloud provider, and hold their feet to the fire. Insist that they provide more metadata.

Cloud metadata includes the performance, configuration, operations, and billing data that is part of each cloud workload. Such information helps enterprises keep tabs on cloud costs, maintaining performance and demonstrating compliance. This metadata is typically available to cloud providers, but on the customer side, there appear to be broad gaps in their knowledge about their own workloads.

As a result, 100 percent of companies surveyed suffered a negative business impact, including outages, wasted resources, unexpected costs and challenges reporting to management. At least 60 percent report they cannot grow their cloud footprint due to associated transparency, compliance and support issues.

The survey findings highlight the relationships between cloud providers and users, and areas for improvement. For starters, overall, cloud customer satisfaction is low, with a strong sentiment that providers do not respond to their users’ needs. Over 50 percent of cloud customers report their
provider “does not understand their company’s needs or care about their success.”

This lack of transparency can potentially slow down cloud expansion. At least 60 percent said that lack of operational transparency, compliance information, and solid support hinders them from expanding their cloud use, the report also finds. “A lack of clear cloud usage and operational data results in performance problems, challenges with reporting to management on costs of performance, payment for resources that customers ultimately don’t use, and unexpected bills.” More than half of companies also say they are not satisfied with the onboarding and support processes provided by their cloud providers.

There are a number of issues reported: Forty-three percent report performance problems or outages; 41 percent experienced challenges with reporting to management on costs or performance; 39 percent  paid for resources that weren’t used; and 36 percent received unexpected bills or line items.

Forrester provides the following bits of advice for holding cloud vendors’ feet to the fire:

Demand honesty and clarity about compliance data, processes, and expertise. Seek out a cloud provider “that offers proactive compliance, alerting you when something needs attention, and has comprehensive reporting and audit support to quickly resolve any issues,” the report advises. “Make sure you can speak directly with the provider’s compliance team.”

Get the performance, security, and cost data you need, when you need it. “Verify the claims of your cloud provider,” the report states. “Are you getting the performance promised? How much are you spending? Are you being overcharged? Look for a cloud provider that’s not afraid to share all the performance, security, and cost data you need to answer these questions.”

Look for a cloud provider staffed by experts who know who you are and who pick up the phone. “Are you just another account number to your cloud provider?” Just because cloud exists in a digital realm doesn’t mean the human element is out of the equation.  If anything, a successful cloud engagement is built on person-to-person connections. Cloud vendors also need to understand that adding the human touch will spur customers to “expand their use of cloud services in the future.”

This article was written by Joe McKendrick from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


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