The Portal—Gateway to the Cloud

imageIn this post, Jamal Malik discusses how the portal is the gateway for the consumer of a cloud service and how the portal is related to the key feature that has been responsible for driving the success of cloud computing – that being the simplification of IT and aligning services with business requirements.

Enjoy! –Tom.



I always try my hardest to put myself in my customer’s shoes.

I know this is a very old method of trying to gain our customer’s perspective however in regards to Cloud I think this exercise is even more important.

At Microsoft (I am sure along with many other Software Vendors) when we discuss the composition of a cloud we approach it from an IT or Service Provider’s perspective. What does it mean to provision and manage services, perform capacity management, what is the technical composition of a Resource Pool and so on.

If we were to approach this same question from a Business or Service Consumer’s perspective what would that answer be?

I would imagine as a Service Consumer I would think that the face of the cloud would be some form of portal which allows me to pick and choose the services I wish to consume. Once I chose the service and make a request to use it I am given updates as to the status of their request. In short, the Cloud Portal represents the cloud to many Service Consumers.

Consumers of the cloud service are not interested or concerned about everything that happens behind the scenes in order to automate, provision and fulfill those requests. All they know and care about is that to them; IT has been simplified. These physical resources have finally been abstracted from all that crazy geek talk that never made any sense to them anyway. The language they want to hear is Service Level Agreements, cost and capabilities. I think that is in part why Cloud has really taken off in the last few years. It represents the evolution of the conversation between the business (Service Consumers) and IT (Service Providers).

After almost five years (I am sure some would argue that it has been longer) it still puzzles me as to why there are so many “definitions” and “notions” around what Cloud is. It occurred to me that it probably has to do with the fact that there are two perspectives being shared (the Service Consumer’s and the Service Provider’s).

The Service Consumer looks to over simplify and the Service Provider does exactly the opposite. I don’t think either of the perspectives are wrong per se however I think it is important to understand the difference between those two perspectives and that when we engage with the masses (Service Consumers) that really, all they care about are the IT capabilities which they would like to use, not what it means to enable, manage and maintain it.

You can have different viewpoints even from the Service Provider’s perspective. However, I would venture to say that probably the most important perspective to appreciate and understand would be the Service Consumer’s. After all, the Service Consumer is usually the one that signs the checks…

Would love to hear the communities thought’s on the matter as well.

Jamal Malik
Business Solutions Architect
Datacenter/Private Cloud Center of Excellence

Tom Shinder
Principal Knowledge Engineer, SCD iX Solutions Group
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