Heavy Reading Research

Ensuring Cloud Service Experience

In today's business environment, cloud services and applications are becoming more popular as organizations are looking to reduce costs while increasing agility, scalability and increased time-to-market for new products or services. This demand is timely for service providers that are looking for alternative revenue streams and have the advantage of existing infrastructure and access to a large subscriber base.

Though there is little question that being a cloud provider would be a good fit for many providers, the key to their success will be understanding the demands and apprehensions of their customers, whose primary concern is not just quality of service but quality of the overall experience. This requires an IP assurance solution that can effectively manage the end-user experience in private, public and hybrid cloud environments. In other words, service providers must think beyond network SLAs and make sure service assurance in the cloud realm includes the network, the application layer and the business layer to provide an overall satisfactory customer experience.

The reason service assurance is so important to cloud services is because in most cases organizations' hesitation to adopt cloud-based services is caused by the fact that they have to give up or relinquish aspects of service delivery components that they have normally held close to their vest. Cloud service assurance will play a pivotal role in order for organizations to trust their cloud provider. But without alignment or correlation of network, the application layer and customer service, this effort would be moot.

The key for service providers providing cloud services will be to find a service assurance solution that will be able to monitor cloud infrastructure at all levels, while preemptively managing subscriber experience. In turn, issues at the subscriber level (or application level) will have to be reported back (preferably in real time) to the network and business level, so that changes may be made accordingly.

We believe the Real-Time IP Service Assurance (RISA) concept defined by Heavy Reading can be ideally extended to assure cloud service effectively. Heavy Reading defines RISA as a solution that specializes in monitoring and assuring high-value IP services (such as VoIP, desktop video, HD telepresence and HD videoconferencing) that are easily affected by events in the IP network, due to their low tolerance for delay, latency, jitter and packet loss.

RISA is a class of technology that addresses key pain points and concerns that enterprise and network operators are currently facing in the deployment of real-time services. A customer-centric cloud service assurance solution will have to ensure QoS through a customer's entire service lifecycle, from the time a product or service is provisioned to the time it is terminated, riding on a multi-vendor network and hardware infrastructure.

With cloud environments carrying more and more of the world's voice, video and data, the complexities of ensuring a trouble-free end-user experience have grown exponentially. Preemptive service assurance for cloud means that solutions need to be able to correlate session data with network events to identify and fix service performance issues before they affect end-user service experience. To achieve this level of solution maturity, it is critical for underlying solutions to be able to achieve per-session visibility into the service quality of the multi-vendor cloud environment.

NetSocket is one vendor that is doing some exciting work in this space. Its recently launched Cloud Experience Manager (CEM) has the unique ability to anticipate, isolate and remediate problems with dynamic voice, video and data services without using intrusive probes throughout the network. CEM offers a comprehensive view of session, content and network quality on a hop-by-hop basis, delivering immediate insight into network issues and in one console screen, empowering network managers to anticipate, isolate and remediate network issues within unified communications environments before they affect end-user experience.

In my opinion, a preemptive approach to cloud assurance based on subscriber experience is a top priority. It directly affects mean time to isolate and repair problems, resulting in opex reduction and enabling service providers to deliver on superior customer experience.

— Ari Banerjee, Senior Analyst, Heavy Reading

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