Framework for Comparing Cloud Computing Service Providers

CloudCommons has developed the Service Measurement Index (SMI) Framework, a set of tools for comparing cloud computing service providers.

The Service Measurement Index (SMI) Framework uses the following metrics:
  • Quality - There are often many different solutions to any IT challenge, and each solution has different quality-of service-attributes, such as defect rates, time to repair, resiliency and scalability. IT needs to be understood in terms of how well it provides quality, in business-relevant and granular terms.
  • Agility - In today's world, new technologies and approaches emerge at a dizzying pace, and IT must become nimble and agile if it is to take advantage of these developments. Agility speaks both to how quickly new capabilities are integrated into the service as needed by the business, and how easily the business can adopt different services or technologies.
  • Risk - No organization can tolerate excessive risk, and yet the risk picture at any point in time is one of the least understood components of IT. Risk is multi-dimensional, ranging from obvious sorts of risks - the business stability of a key provider - to the less obvious risks, such as the effect of business ethics lapses on a provider's customers.
  • Cost - As a direct measure of efficiency, cost is of vital importance to IT and the business. Cost tends to be the single most scrutinized metric today, but it is important to express cost in terms relevant to the business. Cost must therefore be understood and allocated to IT services in a granular, business-centric way that provides transparency into the overall IT operation and relates to value.
  • Security - Data protection and privacy is important to nearly every organization, but some have more stringent security requirements than others. Financial organizations, for example, have compliance regulations involving data integrity and privacy that they must meet. Security is multi-dimensional, and includes data retention/disposition, accountability, privacy, data loss, and integrity, among other elements.
  • Capabilities - The definition of a given service can be found in the list of essential capabilities that it provides; an email service must be able to send and receive email and an e-commerce service must be able to manage orders. These key capabilities can be evaluated for completeness or user satisfaction, and joined by a larger set of essential other capabilities to further differentiate between various providers.
I'm very optimistic about where the cloud computing industry is going with standards like this for comparing cloud service providers and the DeltaCloud Cloud API becoming a standard.