- Cloud administration UIs designed around a more highly trained target user. Lighten up on the cutesy stuff and provide clear, unambiguous indications of what is about to occur when buttons are clicked.
- Long-text "comment" fields on every page an administrator uses, to allow for annotations of the before-state, after-state and rationales for actions.
- Mechanisms to do global searches within metadata, for where-used analysis and troubleshooting.
- System audit trails for data changes, including the running user and changing mechanism for each change.
- Logs of every administrative, metadata and security change, even when applied via API.
- Logs of every time a report is changed and run, including the running user's ID.
- Records of at least the last time any workflow or trigger is run, including the running user and the error message, if any.
- An API that provides at least read access to administrative state, metadata (including all related comments and annotations), security settings, and metadata logs so external tools can be used to identify and troubleshoot changes. (And you thought Regex was dead!)
- A way to export all metadata logs as either CSV or XML files.
- A standard service for centrally logging all error messages, as I discussed in a previous tip.
I know of no cloud application or platform that supplies all of the above today, though Salesforce.com is admittedly close. Several other popular cloud apps out there that have almost none of the bullets covered.
That said, be patient. This is hard work, and vendors can't make money at it. Even though this won't be solved soon, you need to be firm with your cloud vendors every time they pitch you some bright, shiny object with only sketchy manageability.
David Taber is the author of the new Prentice Hall book, " Salesforce.com Secrets of Success" and is the CEO of SalesLogistix, a certified Salesforce.com consultancy focused on business process improvement through use of CRM systems. SalesLogistix clients are in North America, Europe, Israel and India. Taber has more than 25 years of experience in high tech, including 10 years at the VP level or above.