26.02.19 | Author / Editor: Henrik Hasenkamp / Lisa Marie Waschbusch
Sophisticated UX/UI design is important wherever people come into contact with technology. The cloud is no exception. But it is precisely here that the user faces challenges.
The services provided by Infrastructure-as-a-Service providers are complex and make access difficult, especially for people with less experience and detailed knowledge. The cloud therefore has great potential to become more accessible through intelligent UX design and extensive automation of processes in the data center.
For many well-known providers, the initiation and use of cloud services is made more difficult by confusing and detailed configuration pages - many of the details are irrelevant at this point for the user who is pursuing a specific goal. A bad interface is an unnecessary obstacle to the use of a provider in the worst case scenario. But the cloud also has to be simple: Agencies, system houses and companies - even if they do not have in-depth know-how - should be able to quickly configure the desired infrastructure and the associated servers.
Intuitive and simple on the surface
The user interface is always the first thing users see. Cloud providers should therefore have a vital interest in ensuring that their customers quickly understand this interface and know how to use it intuitively. User interfaces should be simplistic and without clutter. The design and structure clean, and graphically clean. It helps not to overload the user with information and details. If the interface only displays the functions that the user currently needs, this helps him to find his way around.
Automated and intelligent in the background
No one should have to deal with the complexity typical of a data center if they don't want to and have no special interest in it. All processes can run automatically in the background without the user having to deal with them in detail. This approach to automation goes hand in hand with a consistent approach to efficiency. Dynamic and automated capacity management, for example, can ensure that availability is always 100 percent for the customer and that no bottlenecks occur at peak times.
Predictive maintenance, comes into play. Here, the operating data recorded by a machine learning software is examined for conspicuous patterns. In a data center, for example, these could be temperatures inside and outside the housings, voltage levels or latency times. Deviations from normal values often announce malfunctions and failures. Once the algorithm has been trained on these factors, it can distinguish between normal and abnormal states and intervene accordingly. This makes it possible to largely automate IT operations in the interests of the customer.
With data evaluation for a better user experience
The observation of user behaviour and the associated data collection and analysis provide a good basis for the continuous improvement of the user experience. For example, data can be used to determine how often and when which features are used. For example, if many users take snapshots regularly, developers might try to accommodate this by simplifying the user interface. The result could be a scheduling feature that regularly backs up snapshots.
A statistical analysis of the real-time user data can also be used to customize the user interfaces to the currently active user. Customers see different selection and detail options according to their technical experience level. This means that users only receive the options that are relevant to them. In addition, the algorithms used can use their "assessment" to make suggestions to the user that match their presumed goal. This optimizes the user experience and enables dynamic provisioning with individually adapted visual interfaces. Good UX and automation through self-learning algorithms can open up a new market for IT infrastructure from the cloud if customers who were previously afraid of cloud services because they did not have the necessary knowledge can now independently set up their own virtual data center.
A dashboard that's easy to understand
In the virtual data center, the dashboard or panel represents the central user interface and command center. If all servers, storage and networks are visually supported and can be managed intuitively, even users without in-depth experience can master unimagined complexities. The clear visual design supports user friendliness. Information such as core numbers and RAM sizes must be visible at a glance so that when new servers are added, for example, the number of cores or the size of the RAM can be determined with a single click. It's even better if the server and storage objects can be simply dragged and dropped together to form infrastructures.
All the things like user orientation, clear design, reduction of complexity and automation don't sound revolutionary in the end. Many industries are now implementing them as a matter of course and users have become accustomed to them. In the area of cloud services, however, there has not been enough competitive pressure in this direction - all too often the focus has only been on the price point. There is a need to catch up in order to place the user more consistently in the centre of attention. The possibilities offered by IT are no longer only used by experts - given the shortage of skilled workers, this is not realistic either. However, this requires suitable market offerings that are easy to use. The same applies to the cloud. The provision of IT infrastructure should be straightforward and a few mouse clicks should be enough to make the new IT resource available.
The original article in german can be found here.