Selecting a cloud provider defining widely accepted measures for cloud services

There is growing popularity for adopting cloud computing and a trend toward sending IT-enabled services outside of industry and government organizations. Senior decision-makers, especially CIOs are concerned about the impact of this change on their ability to select and manage service providers who will meet their requirements and deliver high performance. While there may be obvious operational, cost and other benefits, selecting the right provider(s) in the absence of standard measures that allow for objective comparison of their capabilities puts IT leaders and their organizations at risk of missing the full value of cloud services.

The current situation is that each cloud service provider (CSP) has defined the measures and service level agreements (SLAs) their potential clients may consider. These measures often exclude critical attributes that the clients need to measure and are incomparable across providers.

To address this situation and to ensure that measures are developed to be globally appropriate and to meet the needs of both public and private sector clients, the Cloud Services Measurement Initiative Consortium (CSMIC) was launched by Carnegie Mellon University to develop the Service Measurement Index (SMI).

The SMI is a framework of critical characteristics, associated attributes, and measures that decision-makers may apply to enable comparison of non- cloud-based services with cloud-based services or cloud services available from multiple providers.

SMI is designed to become a standard method to measure any cloud service (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, BPaaS, and Big Data) based on critical business and technical requirements of industry and government customers.

The SMI starts with a hierarchical framework. The top level divides the measurement space into 7 Categories. Each Category is further refined by 4 or more Attributes. Then, within each Attribute one or more measures are defined to enable use of cloud service provider data to inform selection decisions.

Here is a more detailed view of the framework with all of the Categories and Attributes listed.

To download a full page PDF file of the above framework diagram, click the following link.

For a more detailed overview of the SMI framework, you can download a short paper (PDF format) here.

To download a compressed file containing all of the currently defined measures (zip format), use this link.

To download the prototype tool and its instructions click on these 2 links. Note that this application requires an iPad to run.

All CSMIC work on the SMI was suspended in July 2014. Please contact Carnegie Mellon University (Silicon Valley Campus) or info@csmic.org for more information on continuing this work.

We would like to acknowledge the generous support of the former CSMIC Consortium members including: Accenture, BeyondCore, CA Technologies (the founding member), Carnegie Mellon University (Silicon Valley Campus), Cask, LLC, City University London, Data Security Council of India (DSCI), International Association of Outsourcing Professionals (IAOP), ISG, KPMG, Mycroft, RampRate, Stony Brook University, New York, TM Forum, and the University of Melbourne, Australia.