We are often so focused on the end-user or business experience of the computers we use on a daily basis that we sometimes forget about the nuts-and-bolts side of IT--a side of technology where performance is king no matter what platform, operating system, and task is present.
This is the world for organizations like the Computer Measurement Group, a not-for-profit dedicated to providing predictable measurements and analysis to any form of IT service. And, after providing accurate ways to measure IT service--no matter the platform or the job--figuring out ways to improve it.
The group initially got its start in measuring services, workloads, and transactions specifically in the mainframe arena, according to Dr. Michael Salsburg, Chief Architect for Real-Time Infrastructures within Unisys Corporation's Systems and Technology group and active CMG member. In fact, Salsburg related to me in a recent phone interview, there is still the perception out there that mainframes are all the CMG is concerned about.
That is a misperception, actually, since the CMG has evolved to measuring services levels, capacity, performance... any aspect of IT that can be managed is fair game to be measured.
The trick, of course, is how to measure it.
This challenge is usually met during the CMG's annual conferences, where IT luminaries from around the world meet to discuss the latest obstacles in performance measurement. This year's conference, CMG's 35th, will prove to be no exception, as attendees meet to take on cloud computing.
The topic of this year's CMG conference, being held this December 6-11 in Dallas, Texas, was chosen last year, just as the initial hype for cloud computing was getting started, Salsburg said. Essentially, cloud computing was just another form of the Software as a Service (SaaS) model, he continued, and was definitely worth the focus of the CMG conference.
Cloud computing, as a broad topic, "provides some wrinkles" in measuring performance, Salsburg explained, "because we can't always get access to all measurement points as if they were in your own data center." While the end results can be measured against the initial input, breaking down the performance at intermediate stages can be difficult.
The very structure of cloud computing can throw up other obstacles in the measurement path. Salsburg described the three basic layers of cloud computing: cloud providers who handle just the IT infrastructure, cloud publishers who create the actual SaaS, and cloud consumers who may have their own processes added on to the job at hand. These levels can be public or private at any stage of the process, and can be very blended (such as eBay, which acts as provider and publisher nearly equally).
But getting into these types of measurements is what the CMG is all about. And these aren't numbers that only performance wonks are going to appreciate: real-world management decisions, such as capacity planning for SaaS, will be made based on the techniques the CMG's members will devise.
The keynote address for CMG'09, "The Impact of Software as a Service on the Enterprise Data Center," presented by Amy Wohl, President of Wohl Associates, will cover this very issue.
Ten more presentations are scheduled throughout the conference program, as well as the The Plenary Session, ‚ÄúThe Next Revolution in Computing: The Virtualized Data Center Meets the Cloud,‚Äù presented by Jeffrey Nick, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of the EMC Corporation.