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Successful cloud service provider: Requirements (Part 1 of 2)

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What are the requirements for a cloud provider to become successful, to manage effectively client expectation, ensure the required service level agreement, and at the same time manage a cloud environment?

There are at least 10 requirements that must exist in a cloud provider environment to become a successful cloud provider on the market. We briefly go through all of them in this two-part series.

1. Self-service portal

One of the key elements is easy-to-use self-service portal where users can request services when they need them and for the time they need them. Self-service portal should be scalable to enable users to request service scaled from low to high complexity. The self-service portal also should enable reservation of IT resources such as compute, storage, and networking from the virtualized pool from the cloud provider. This functionality gives customers control over the required services and also allows IT to effectively manage utilization of available resources, provision services, and deprovision services when they do not need them anymore.

2. Service catalog

The service catalog is a central repository where all cloud services offered to users are stored. At the same time, it also stores all information needed to provision the requested services. Catalog allows users to easily request services they need without being experts in IT or needing to understand processes and complexity involved in delivering services on the provider side. From a provider perspective, the entire process of requesting the services, getting the requests approved, and provisioning of the services is tracked in the service catalog.  The service catalog makes the cloud environment more responsive to its customers, improves the consistency of the services, and improves delivery times of the services.

3. Automated provisioning

Automated provisioning is an engine that deploys services requested by users. It allows quick, secure, and reliable executions of changes within the cloud provider environment. Resources are deployed automatically when the user requests them, and then redeployed or repurposed as changes in user demand occurs. With provisioning of requested resources, automated provisioning also makes required changes in the environment based on the defined workflow for a specific resource, such as firewall modification, applying additional security rules, and more.

4. Complex topology creation and deployment

What does complex topology creation and deployment mean? It is the ability of the cloud management stack to deploy and manage cloud environments based on a template data model definition. In other words, it is fully automated deployment through build plan and topology definitions, which means the ability to automatically provision multiple types of services required by users.

5. Platform-Virtualization management

Virtualization provides the ability to easily move workloads and to optimize resources utilization on heterogeneous platforms and separate virtualization layers so that the service provider is able to provide a full set of services for users. Besides the ability to provide various types of services to users, the management level effectively manages virtual workloads and automatically migrates them to manage required services levels. An additional required task for virtualization management is to manage VLANs to support multi-tenancy requirements.

In Part 2, we cover the remaining requirements for cloud service providers.

Check out http://www.ibm.com/blogs/cloud-computing/ regularly.

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