After years of latency, software-as-a-service is moving to center stage, swept along with the bigger concept of cloud computing. On the software side, applications like Salesforce, Workday and Freshbooks — and yes, GoogleApps — have become serious players in enterprises of all sizes.
And in the bigger cloud, services like Amazon’s EC2 Elastic Compute Cloud and IBM Smart cloud services — and yes, Google AppEngine — are changing the way IT departments approach their missions and their development tasks, enabling greater speed and flexibility than ever before.
We’ve seen this type of technology trajectory before and can recognize its course; think back to the Web itself, to early social networking, to the still-snowballing mobile data market.
The dominant SaaS providers are still rising to the top; economics, standards and best practices are being sorted out; business models are being built and business cases made. The difference is that these sweeping technological changes keep happening faster and faster.
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One reason cloud performance monitoring is so critical is that cloud provider service is so nebulous. “Performance” to cloud providers typically means only availability; and even availability is only loosely guaranteed. For Amazon Web Services, as an example, unavailability means no connectivity at all during a five-minute period; if your user has a lousy, erratic, miserably slow connection, as far as Amazon is concerned, they’ve delivered. And availability means availability when it leaves Amazon’s door; whether or not anything actually reaches your user is not Amazon’s problem (regardless of their choices for ISP and connectivity). Oh, and the burden of proof is on you, the customer. For all intents and purposes, Amazon is not even checking to see if you even have service.
This is not to dump solely on Amazon. The same guarantees, or lack thereof, are typical of many cloud providers. In addition to the caveats above, scheduled and emergency downtime is excluded from availability guarantees; penalties for unavailability are minimal, and certainly not commensurate with potential business damages; and any other kind of performance is not included in the service level agreement.
An ideal cloud-client working relationship includes substantial SLAs, external monitoring of SLA parameters that is visible to both provider and client, and meaningful recourse if the service falls short. In lieu of this ideal, however, the onus is on the enterprise to put cloud monitoring and measurement in place and to hold their provider accountable – so they can either get the service level they need, or switch to a better provider.
Read More at Keynote Benchmark
There are two dominant ways of looking at and valuing the cloud that lead to very different philosophies about what it is and should be: the cloud as a business model vs. the cloud as a cost savings/efficiency device. The former seems to be held by established companies and the latter by start-ups, although there are certainly exceptions on both sides.
By monitoring first mile performance you can quickly identify if performance problems are inside your data center or outside of it. This need not be limited to consumer facing applications, you could easily monitor the first mile cloud performance of B2B applications or even internal/partner applications.
In fact, these scenarios might be more compelling as they are often associated with SLAs or clear expectations of performance.
Read more on How to set up the first mile with cloud monitoring.