Draft guidance from the government, being released for public comment, offer an early model for metrics that government agencies, businesses and other organizations could use as they select an appropriate cloud computing vendor partner.

“New cloud computing providers and services are entering the market at a dizzying pace. Different organizations and groups often use the same cloud computing terms with slightly different, or even contradictory meanings, leading to confusion among cloud service providers, customer and carriers,” according to NIST, an agency of the Department of Commerce. “The lack of clear definitions for cloud computing terms makes them inherently immeasurable.”

The draft guidance seeks to bring uniformity to the vocabulary of cloud service measurements that include abstract metric, abstract metric definition, cloud service property, concrete metric definition, context, measurement, measurement result, metric, observation, and unit of measurement.

The guidance also describes the “cloud service trifecta” which can be broken down into three general areas: service selection, service agreement and service verifications, along with supporting metrics. It further defines in detail a “cloud service metric model” with 23 elemental descriptions of the foundation diagram that describes a metric definition.

“Metrics for cloud computing services can be described using the model proposed in this document,” according to NIST. “The model represents the information needed to understand the targeted cloud property and which constraints should be applied during observation. The Cloud Service Metric (CSM) model describes the higher level concepts of the abstract metric definitions for a specific cloud service property; service uptime is a prime example. Definitions for abstract metrics contain parameters and rules to express a formal understanding of the property of interest. The CSM model also contains concrete metric definitions that are based on abstract metric definitions. Concrete metric definitions add specific values to rules and parameters that make the metric usable for a given scenario.”

NIST, which is responsible for accelerating the federal government’s use of cloud computing, is accepting public comment on the draft guidance through Jan. 24, 2015. The guidance and additional information is available here.

Last month, Dell released the results of a survey of 2,000 companies in 19 industries and 11 countries that looked at cloud computing adoption. What they found is that the healthcare industry is not only rapidly transforming but is more successfully closing the gap in cloud adoption compared to other industries. The Dell Global Technology Adoption Index Survey indicates that 96 percent of healthcare organizations are using or considering using the cloud and that confidence in the security of data stored in a private cloud environment is promising, with 64 percent indicating that they are “very confident” that their data is protected.

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