Analytics is an increasingly important part of the hosting user experience. Today’s customer has access to more data than ever before and it is available to them at a click of the mouse. They can get direct insight into things like network performance, disk and storage usage, traffic patterns, security issues, and spending trajectories. The data is displayed in attractive and easy-to-read bars and graphs and often updates in real-time.
But things were not always this way. Early hosters often had patchwork systems that produced disjointed data on disparate systems. Things were not always very efficient and the customer had very little visibility or access to this data. But the need to enhance the user experience has pushed hosters to collect, organize and analyze this data. They have built advanced tools to get this done and turn this data into intelligence for the customer.
This has a number of different benefits. Analytics provides the end user with flexible options to optimize their spending on hosted infrastructure. In the world of cloud, this is of particular importance. The ability to scale infrastructure is useless without the information that tells you when it should be done. Organizations are often faced with unpredictable traffic patterns and the more data they have, the easier it is to scale cloud infrastructure optimally. Accurate data also enables customers to enhance performance for their end users. Without a proper picture of how infrastructure is performing and real-time alerts, it is difficult for customers to make decisions. All that changes when the right analytics are available and readily accessible.
Why is analytics going to be, and already is, one of the next big things in hosting and cloud? First and perhaps foremost, it is an area ripe for differentiation. There is a lot of room to innovate and be creative. User experiences, even if the provider uses third party software, will be very different from provider to provider. Choice will empower the customer.
Second, analytics is now a vital part of the user experience. Infrastructure services require more calibration than ever before. Customers are optimizing speed and performance, scaling more closely with increasingly uneven traffic patterns and closely monitoring and even automating expenditure. The cloud is a big part of the equation and as more workloads move and hybridize with cloud there is going to be a growing need for good information that drives accurate and precise decision-making.
Third, analytics can help customers make informed decisions about the type of infrastructure service they want to run in. They are looking to evaluate a number of different outsourcing scenarios (and on-premise for that matter) – cloud, managed hosting, virtual servers, colocation and hybrid. Choosing amongst these choices is difficult and even overwhelming. It requires consideration of multiple variables. But analytics can break a lot of that down and allow some of those decisions to be made faster and more effectively with the right supporting data.
In short, analytics is going to drive the next wave of innovation in the cloud. It is relatively early in the game but things are starting to accelerate. We should fully expect to see more data and analytics being presented in customer portals and there will be a spin-off effect into value-added and managed services. Even new products will be built from analytics.
The availability of data and analytics should be a part of any working relationship a customer has with its hosting and cloud infrastructure provider. It can bring real competitive advantage.