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Cloud Services Providers – Learning To Keep The Lights On

The True Meaning of Availability

What is real availability? In our line of work, cloud service providers approach availability from the inside out. And in many cases, some never make it past their own front door given how challenging it is to keep the lights on at home let alone factors that are out of your control. But in order to effectively provide quality services with the focus on the customer, providers need to ensure availability from all perspectives, this is what we like to call real availability. Real availability captures the real user experience from end to end. This includes everything within our control (our infrastructure and network) and things out of our control (customer or third party providers).

It’s not enough to only consider the factors within our own infrastructure that might lead to more down time or further disruption. Even when achieving 100 percent uptime within your own network, you have to recognize the services being used by the customer are only as good as the weakest point in the process. A hardware failure on the customer side or an outage at the internet service provider are all factors that impact the overall availability of the services. And while you should do all you can to not be the weak link, from a customer’s point of view, a disruption is a disruption regardless of the source.

Looking Through the Eyes of the Customer

customers-eyes-tech

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

By shifting your focus to see the situation as the customer sees it, and providing a real world view of their availability, cloud service providers should take the necessary steps to change the way the industry looks at and measures availability. To determine real availability for your customers, providers need to look at every incident that results in a customer disruption. In our experience, incidents in a customer’s network fall into one of the following four categories:

Service provider’s infrastructure This includes any and all disruptions that occur on the service provider’s end, within their infrastructure.

Software on a service providers’ platform – Additional software programs from the service provider that experiences a glitch or outage.

Third-party provider Includes third-party solutions such as a customer’s internet service provider or your chosen data center management or hosting services provider.

The customerWhen customers have internal network issues, authentication issues, or when they use the service providers’ offering in ways that impacts their own service.

Moving From Supplier to Partner is Good Business

Where you come in is helping your customers manage the situation when those disturbances occur, including identifying the source. By considering all points of the process when identifying factors that could lead to downtime, you are proactively partnering with your customers. This partnership and transparency is critical to your customer relationships and will dramatically improve the customer experience.

lose-customers-lrg

(Infographic Source: Kissmetrics)

By evolving your status from supplier to a partner dedicated to a customer’s success also makes good business sense. While many cloud providers focus on new customer/user acquisition, industry studies show it can cost 7x more than customer retention. Broadening a focus to the real availability and health of a cloud service can pay off for providers in the long run.

By Allan Leinwand

About Allan Leinwand

Allan Leinwand is chief technology officer at ServiceNow, the enterprise cloud company. In this role, he is responsible for overseeing all technical aspects and guiding the long-term technology strategy for the company.

Before joining ServiceNow, Leinwand was chief technology officer – Infrastructure at Zynga, Inc. where he was responsible for all aspects of technology infrastructure used in the delivery of Zynga’s social games including data centers, networking, compute, storage, content distribution and cloud computing.

Previously, Leinwand was a venture partner for Panorama Capital, LLC where he focused on technology investments in data networking, open source software and cloud computing. Prior to this role, he served as an operating partner at JPMorgan Partners.

In 2005, Leinwand founded Vyatta (acquired by Brocade), the open-source networking company.

Leinwand currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of California, Berkeley where he teaches on the subjects of computer networks, network management and network design. He holds a bachelor of science degree in computer science from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

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