5 issues affecting cloud service quality and performance

By Michelle McNickle
08:54 PM
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As the industry is slowly changing the way it serves patients, cloud computing has become a way to reduce costs, improve services and simplify management. But with the growing use of cloud service come concerns about its performance and overall quality, said Daniel Joseph Barry, vice president of marketing at Napatech.  

As the industry is slowly changing the way it serves patients, cloud computing has become a way to reduce costs, improve services and simplify management. But with the growing use of cloud service come concerns about its performance and overall quality, said Daniel Joseph Barry, vice president of marketing at Napatech.  

“Cloud service providers have established the necessary competence and IT infrastructure to deliver on demands, but there is one potential Achilles heel that can present a challenge: assuring cloud service quality and performance," he said.

Barry outlined five issues affecting cloud service quality and performance.

1. The demand for cloud services is growing. Cloud computing provides a promising opportunity for enterprises to “address the growing complexity of information technology,” said Barry. “The availability of smartphones and the expectation of immediate and simple access to both private and company-specific information, on a global basis, are driving demand for centralization of IT services, and the related competence required to support these effectively.”

2. Ensuring quality delivery is tricky. One of the fundamental principles of cloud services is the cloud itself, said Barry, which, in most cases, can be read as the Internet. “But how can a cloud service provider assure quality delivery of services across an entity is doesn’t control?” he asked. Service level agreements, or SLAs, can be entered with communication service providers, he said, but how do you ensure the SLAs are being met? “If they’re not being met, how does this affect the services you provide?” he asked. “Can you compensate for this, so the end-user impact can be minimized?”

[See also: Cloud computing myths vs. risks.]

3. Remote testing could be an answer. Remote testing provides part of the solution, said Barry. According to him, the ability to emulate service experience for potential users, both before service is provided and during service when issues occur, can help with understanding the characteristics of the cloud connecting customers to the cloud service. “Technology already exists that makes remote testing possible,” he added. “Traffic generation technology is available, [which] can be used to stress test networks using typical user traffic.” Traffic can be generated, he said, that will fully load user connections to the cloud service, allowing the individual connection to be tested. And it also allows the cloud service itself to be stress tested, if many of the sessions are established simultaneously. 

4. Additional IT helps with precision. “Advanced network adapters now provide synchronized traffic generation features, which can be used by OEM vendors to build traffic generation systems based on standards servers with extreme time precision,” said Barry. Multiple traffic generation systems using these features can be synchronized within a nanosecond. “All they need is a reliable clock source, which could be GPS, CDMA, or IEEE1588/PTP,” he said. “With all this technology, remote cloud testing can be performed with extreme precision, as each Ethernet frame can be time-stamped with nanosecond resolution.”

[See also: Cloud computing, digital signatures speed clinical trials.]

5. Cloud computing providers can have more control. With this type of technology, Barry continued, cloud computing providers can precisely control when traffic loads or stimulated user sessions are started, and, by using packet-capture technology, analyze and measure the characteristics of the cloud connecting the traffic generators. “This can include latency measurements with extreme accuracy, packet drop analysis, number of TCP resends, total amount of data exchanged, etc.,” he said. “Because the traffic generation is synchronized, traffic generators and packet-capture probes provide a remote testing infrastructure that can help cloud service providers overcome the achilles heel issue of assuring cloud services, even when you don’t control the cloud itself.”

Follow Michelle McNickle on Twitter, @Michelle_writes