As we complete another year supporting the critical operational needs of some of the largest ecommerce websites in the world through Black Friday and Cyber Monday, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on expectations for the enterprise cloud.

Clearly, an enterprise cloud requires superior engineering, and is automated, highly scalable, and resilient — both physically and logically. The enterprise cloud is designed with robust features enabling an enterprise to tailor and tune its applications to optimize performance.

However, in my view, as critical as that is, these characteristics represent only half the equation of the enterprise cloud. Fundamentally that’s because enterprises generally don’t want to have to employ world-class engineers to run a cloud.  They want a cloud that is easy to use, doesn’t require a Ph.D. in engineering to interface with its APIs, and yet is dependable enough to rely upon for their business success. They very much want or need proactive service management and world class operations.

While in its purest form a cloud is by definition “self service,” many enterprises prefer to focus on their business applications and not the operations of their cloud.  However, making those applications perform as needed very much relies upon a service provider to flawlessly operate the cloud platform using a service model that is linked to that of the enterprise.

In my experience, that cloud service model can be the critical success factor in an enterprise cloud strategy.  A successful cloud service model requires a service partner that:

1. …understands your business and your applications, and collaborates effectively with your team to tune performance, integrate with legacy systems, and deploy new capabilities.

2.  …proactively manages the key metrics that matter to your success (e.g., customer response time, abandoned shopping carts).

3.  …offers suggestions on how your customer experience can be improved and takes initiative to implement solutions.

4. …is as much a part of your business success or failure as anyone that works for your company, and is measured and rewarded accordingly.

5.  …is truly an extension of your business.

As you assess your own success and improvement opportunities through the key sales period of the holiday season, I encourage you to consider service excellence on your critical success list for your enterprise cloud.  I think you’ll find it’s an area that far too many providers have ignored or can’t address.

Please share your own experiences and let me know if you agree.  Thanks, happy holidays, and good shopping!