Quality of the cloud: best practices for ISVs

Table of Contents

  1. Summary
  2. About Lawrence M. Walsh
  3. Key takeaways
  4. Further reading
  5. Introduction
    1. Creating the end-user experience
  6. The cloud defined
  7. Meeting enterprise cloud expectations
    1. Availability
    2. Security
    3. Platforms
    4. Manageability and ease of use
    5. Geographic distribution
    6. Infrastructure uniformity
    7. Scale and elasticity
    8. Cost containment
    9. Service-level agreements (SLAs)
  8. Measuring cloud experience
    1. Uptime
    2. Responsiveness
    3. Speed and latency rates
    4. Support
    5. End-user satisfaction
  9. ISV-retained responsibilities
    1. Service-level agreements
    2. Regulatory compliance
    3. Security
    4. Customer support
    5. Business continuity and disaster recovery
    6. Operational expenses
  10. Selecting a hosting partner
    1. Defining operating needs
    2. Budget
    3. Service needs and capacity
    4. Infrastructure composition
    5. Cloud expertise
    6. Go-to-market support
    7. Road map alignment
    8. Evaluation and testing


Demand for cloud computing continues to increase exponentially as consumers, businesses and government agencies seek to defer the expense of acquiring, operating and maintaining infrastructure and applications to third-party service providers. Likewise, software publishers are finding the cloud computing model an efficient and effective mechanism for delivering their products as a service and as an operational expense to their customers. For independent software vendors, cloud computing is opening up new markets and making their applications more accessible and affordable to scores of new customers.

The issue facing ISVs is how to enter the cloud computing market. Developing and supporting data centers distributed across large geographic regions is expensive and time-consuming. Cloud providers must support non-revenue-producing resources to ensure capacity for growth and peak service consumption. And the cloud is difficult for many application developers to convert to virtualized and multitenancy environments.

Many ISVs are choosing to forego data center development. Instead, they are partnering with hosting providers that have the infrastructure, resources and expertise in managing and delivering cloud services. Hosting companies specialize in creating and managing the cloud delivery system, enabling ISVs and other customers to focus on their core products — the delivery of Software-as-a-Service offerings.

While hosting companies provide the resources for ISVs to enter the cloud, they do not absolve ISVs from all the responsibility of due diligence in establishing and maintaining quality cloud services. Incumbent upon the ISV is ensuring that its hosting partners have the resources, expertise, service delivery abilities and capacity to support their specific market needs. Without first establishing operating criteria and assessing hosting partners’ capabilities, ISVs are left open to a lower quality of service that will affect their downstream customers’ cloud experience.

Incumbent upon ISVs is the selection and ongoing governance associated with working with a hosting provider. ISVs need not only service-level agreements but also metrics to continually measure and assess the quality of service received from hosting companies and how it impacts the service provided to end users. When working with a hosting company, ISVs are no longer the source of the product but the linchpin in the cloud value chain.

This report is intended to provide ISVs with guidance on partnering with hosting companies, establishing criteria for selecting a hosting service, metrics for measuring hosting performance as it relates to cloud services delivered and an understanding of the responsibilities they retain even when outsourcing a large part of their services functions to a third party.

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