Which Cloud KPIs Matter the Most?

You’ll need cost-related metrics to accurately assess the value of your cloud initiatives.

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There are many key performance indicators (KPIs) associated with cloud computing, including availability, reliability, service usage and more. But for anyone responsible for cloud investments or expenditures, cost-related metrics are critical. Without those numbers you won’t know whether you’re getting a positive return on investment (ROI) or even spending in the right place.

Cloud-related costs, however, can be difficult to nail down. Modeling a private cloud involves calculating both fixed costs (servers, licenses) and recurring costs (connectivity, maintenance) over a given number of years. Other factors are forecasted usage, redundancy strategy, and virtual machines (VMs) configured over a range of memory, storage and compute capacities.

Spending on the public cloud would seem easier to calculate, given the lack of infrastructure investment and a service provider’s basic monthly fees. But once you scale operations and add workloads and features, the figures get complicated. Then there are costs that evade capture or go missing.

Hidden public cloud costs

Even for a standard KPI such as availability, public cloud customers may need to bear some responsibility. You can drive that metric closer and closer to 100%, for instance, but the high availability through use of multiple availability zones, performance, security, compliance, real-time disaster recovery (DR) and other techniques that drive SLAs to more “9’s” come at a cost.

What about risk? Let’s look at a simple example that could involve a service usage KPI. As a general rule, data is at highest risk whether it is at rest on a public cloud or as it is traversing outside the protected zones of the infrastructure environment. A preferred model today, as we discussed in a previous article, is to keep as much sensitive data as possible well-protected within a private cloud or on premises. Also, in a well-architected infrastructure environment, web-services or micro-services driven applications would simply read and process but never extract sensitive data and draw them out in the open Internet.

Upgrading a public cloud application to meet a preferred security model costs something. But the risk of leaving data in a more easily breached environment also bears a cost, however difficult it is to calculate.

Oher actions may be required to bring a public cloud deployment into compliance with corporate or government policy. Not that it is impossible to do so. Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) experts, including colleagues at NTT Communications’ sister company NTT Security who spoke at the recent Cloud and Cyber Security Expo in London, are available to help organizations avoid common pitfalls on the cloud.

As additional privacy and security regulations similar to the EU’s GDPR come into effect in other jurisdictions, the need for compliance will only rise. Just be sure to include the consultants’ and related implementation fees in your cost structure.

Metrics associated with cloud services and infrastructure are well and good, but whenever you can, give them a financial tag. You may already be incurring costs for higher availability, more secure data, regulatory compliance and other desirable outcomes. By taking these costs into account, you’ll get a better sense of what it costs to own these deployments and of their overall value.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.