Management Information System
Prof. Kunal Kanti Ghosh
Vinod Gupta School of Management
Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur
Week – 07 Module - 05
Lecture - 34
Cloud Computing and Selection of Cloud Vendor
Hi, welcome back to the 5th module of week 7 in our course on “Management Information Systems”! Today’s topic is on types of cloud computing and selection of cloud services provider that is selection of cloud vendor.
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So, the concepts covered will be the different kinds of or types of delivery models that are relevant in the arena of cloud computing and we will be also dealing with this process of selection of cloud service providers or selection of cloud vendor.
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So, when we talk about delivery models related to cloud computing, the most popular one is infrastructure as a service, acronymed as IaaS. So, what is infrastructure as a service; what do we mean by that?
This particular delivery model provides infrastructure through virtualized servers, networks, storage, and system software to augment or replace the functions of an entire data center. The customer may have full control of the actual server configuration.
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The next important thing related to delivery models particularly infrastructure as a service is that in here the cloud computing infrastructure is delivered as an on-demand service. So, enough amount of flexibility is there, the capacity can be changed depending on what the users demand.
Rather than purchasing servers, software, data centre space or networks, companies instead buy all computing resources as a fully outsourced service. Amazon Web Services is an example of infrastructure as a service provider.
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The next delivery model that we are going to discuss in the context of cloud computing is platform as a service, which is acronymed as PaaS. What does this mean? In here, the service is provided again using virtualized servers on which the clients can run existing applications or they may develop new applications on to the platform provided to them. The cloud services provider, it is their basic responsibility to manage the hardware and the underlying operating systems.
So, users they are relieved of this botheration of maintenance of hardware and operating systems and in such an environment that tools and services provided to the users make them easy to code and deploy application systems very quickly in an efficient manner. Most of you are familiar with the Google App Engine that is another example.
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So, platform as a service provides a standard unified platform for application development, testing, and deployment of the same. It allows the creation of Web applications quickly and easily without the complexity of buying and maintaining the underlying infrastructure.
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Without platform as a service, the cost of developing some apps would have been prohibitive.
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Next, let us see what is there in software as a service. This is also another delivery model in the context of cloud computing. What does it mean? In here, the software application functionalities are provided through a web browser.
Sometimes this is known as application services provider or ASP. Here, apps are designed for the end users by the service provider so that the end users can run applications via multiple devices on this cloud infrastructure.
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Other terms for software as a service are on demand computing and hosted services. So, basically instead of buying and installing expensive packages, software packages which are very costly or package-based enterprise applications; those are also very-very costly, in here, users can access the different kind of software apps that are provided by the services’ provider and this access is based on what they need.
So, mind that this particular thing on the slide; users can access software apps on demand over a network with an internet browser and what the users they have to, for work is that, they have to pay the license fee whatever is required; that is all.
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We are all familiar with this particular application Salesforce dot com, another example is Google Docs; things instead of installing MS-Word or all Microsoft packages on one’s own computer and then, loading word to create a document, one can use a browser to log into Google Docs and his purpose will get served. So, only the browser uses one’s computer resources.
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So, things are easily accessible and less costly. The fourth delivery model is known as DaaS which is data as a service. Here, data shared among clouds, systems, various apps, regardless of the data source or storage location that is very important. We are not bothered about where the data is stored.
DaaS makes it easier for data architects to select data from different pools, filter out sensitive data, and make the remaining data available on-demand. So, from the user’s perspective, data as a service eliminates the risks and the associated effort and burdens of managing data to a third by a third-party cloud provider; the fourth point.
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Now, we need to know a little bit on what are the factors that need to be kept in mind when an enterprise or a firm is going to select a cloud service provider; because such kind of decisions requires greater diligence compared to any other IT decisions. Assessment and selection of the right cloud services provider is an important step strategic decision for business leaders.
Since, cloud computing is becoming an increasingly important part of information technology delivery model and this selection, once the selection is done, is it is very difficult to again go back and change; it has got a long range effect and hence, it is the strategic decision. It is important to investigate each service provider’s offerings prior to subscribing.
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A cloud service provider needs to address several service factors for being selected as the right cloud services provider. The move to the cloud is basically a move to vendor-managed services where in cloud service-level agreements is the most important element of a contract, which we discussed earlier in our last module, when we discussed about SLAs.
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So, what are; what is SLAs again? Once again, it said negotiated agreement between a company and the cloud service provider that can be a legally binding contract or
sometimes if the supplier relationship management is very strong, it can be an informal contract.
That means, the relationship between the service provider and the company is very good, sometimes the service providers maybe an offshoot of the parent company, sister company. So, in that case the service level agreements maybe based on an informal contract.
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Sometimes, a Practical Guide to Cloud Service Level Agreements which are published by Standards Customer Council brings together numerous customer experiences into a single book for IT and business leaders, who would like to consider the adoption of cloud computing.
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As per that Practical Guide to Cloud Service Level Agreements, the definition of SLA is a means of formally documenting the services. The performance expectations, responsibilities and limits between cloud service providers and their users.
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A typical SLA describes levels of service using various attributes such as availability, serviceability, performance and operations.
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A typical SLA describes levels of service using other attributes as billing and penalties associated with violations of such attributes.
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So, in summary, when we look at different service factors to consider when we need to evaluate cloud vendors are first of all delays and in here, the question that need to be addressed are what are the estimated server delays and network delays.
From the viewpoint of workloads, what is the volume of data and processing that can be handled during a specific amount of time? The next thing is the costs; what are the costs that are associated with workloads across multiple cloud computing platforms?
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Security; how are data and network secured against attacks? Are data encrypted and how strong is this encryption? What are network security practices?
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Disaster recovery and business continuity; how is service outage defined?
What level of redundancy is in place to minimize service outages, including backup services in different geographical regions? If a natural disaster or outage occurs, then how will cloud services be continued?
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Technical expertise and understanding; does the vendor have adequate expertise in one’s industry or business processes? Does the vendor understand what one needs to do? Does the vendor have the technical expertise to fulfill the required obligations?
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And off late, is another factor that is considered is insurance in case of failure; does the vendor provide cloud insurance to mitigate the losses incurred by users in case of service failure or damage?
This is a very new and important concept and when companies, they try to compare between different cloud services provider to select the right one. They also today use lot of mathematical models.
For example, analytic hierarchy process models, AHV techniques, they are using considering the various factors that we have enlisted. Lots of papers, they exist; wherein, they have given details of how this technique has been deployed, using these factors for selecting the right cloud services provider.
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The other factors can be related to the service providers showing objective proof with an audit that if can live up to the promises that they are making or it is making. It will provide enough amount of assurance to those who are buying those services.
So, third-party audit or an unbiased assessment of the ability of the service providers is very important. This certificate gives enough amount of assurance or confidence in the minds of the user, when they are trying to evaluate the right cloud vendor.
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So, cloud services can advance the core business of delivering superior services to optimize business performance. Cloud computing or cloud services can minimize the entire operational costs adding lot of flexibility to the performance of critical business apps. Cloud services can improve responsiveness to end consumers, application developers, and as well as business enterprises.
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In order to achieve those benefits, there must be IT, legal and senior management oversight because a company still must meet its legal obligations and responsibilities to employees, customers, business partners, and the society as a whole.
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These are the references that have been used in preparing this particular module.
Thank you all for your patience!
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