Thursday, December 03, 2009
ITIL Castles In the Cloud
Launching A Cloud Computing Strategy Means Outsourcing Multiple Slivers of Your IT Service Value Chain
[Young Cosette - Les Miserables]
There is a castle on a cloud,
I like to go there in my sleep,
Aren’t any floors for me to sweep,
Not in my castle on a cloud.
Rhetorical Question: But wait I thought that cloud computing strategies are meant to simplify IT service provisioning? I cut the supplier a check and they take care of rest right?
Response: In one sense this is a correct, since you are paying an external supplier to provide a complete service outcome. The service can come in the form of an account for a hosted software service, a development platform or a set of virtual infrastructure components without you having to own or manage the physical assets. However, on the other side of coin it is critical to understand that what you are also doing is introducing a new set of players into your existing IT management processes. Just as Young Cosette discovered in the musical Les-Miserables we still have to sweep the floors and take care of business even when we live in the clouds.
[At The End Of The Day - Les Miserables]
At the end of the day you get nothing for nothing
Sitting flat on your butt doesn’t buy any bread
What the IT Community is quickly coming to realize is that to deploy a cloud strategy within their organization successfully a number of processes and IT Service Management elements have to be defined - and better yet - automated from request through verified provisioning and then keep running as long as needed.
Take the following list as an example:
- Service Catalog: The cloud based service needs to be documented, managed and published in an actionable service catalog for IT customers to order from.
- Request Fulfillment: The cloud service has requestable components which require a process to support request approval and integrated workflow automation for request provisioning.
- Change Management: The infrastructure service is now a component service to other business services and changes to the virtual infrastructure must go through Change Management whether you or the cloud supplier makes the change.
- Service Asset and Configuration Management: While you may not choose to model a SaaS service within your CMDB, the infrastructure-as-a-service components play a critical dependency role in understanding component failure impact analysis and provides key information to many other processes.
- Incident & Problem Management: Congratulations! By outsourcing your IT services to a cloud provider they have now become part of your 2nd and 3rd level support organization and need to be integrated into your support agreements and internal operational level agreements.
- Release and Deployment Management: Many cloud providers make scheduled and unschedule releases to their offerings on a regular basis. This requires you to manage these new releases to your customers in a formal maner since the user interface, service functionality and underlying integrations can change at any point.
- Access Management: Just because your service is in the cloud does not mean you don’t have to be concerned about who can order a service component, what level of access / role the requestor / approver has to have, or support your employee on boarding and off boarding processes.
- Event Management: Your sourced cloud services need to be monitored and integrated into your NOC processes.
- Service Level Management: The SLA you negotiate with your cloud provider will need to support your customer SLA’s (This will be particularly interesting if your customer has executed a business process outsourcing arrangement based on SaaS/cloud and then turns to you to “manage” and integrate with the remaining IT infrastructure, data, and applications).
- Supplier Management: Using multiple cloud providers means managing a growing set of external suppliers as part of your internal IT value chain that all need to follow your established policies and processes to ensure consistent delivery of IT services. (see SLM)
- Financial Management: Thanks to the ease of use ordering up new cloud service units many organizations receive a shocking bill quite quickly. Keeping track of your financial obligations around accounts payable is critical. Else beware of “Cloud Sprawl”. Just because a cloud service has been purchased, doesn’t remove your old hardware and software or the lease payments, remaining maintenance, or book value associated with them.
- Availability & Capacity Management:Thanks to elastic capacity and cloud support for failover and dynamic routing you can use cloud services to enhance both of these processes for service design, just be aware of the true external as well as internal costs. And what about that link you have to the cloud? How diverse/redundant is it? How dynamic is it’s routing and capacity?
- IT Service Continuity: Cloud services offer a great opportunity to support Disaster Recovery and off site storage requirements. However your strategy and process needs to be defined in order to use these services strategically (see Availability and Capacity)
- Information Security: Public or Private Cloud does not matter, Information Security remains a concern regardless of where your data resides. (Won’t even touch legislation and privacy laws)
- Etc. Etc. Etc…...
The key message I believe you may be picking up from this post is that the more complex your value chain of suppliers becomes, the more necessary it is to have defined, repeatable processes to support them. In the end moving to Cloud Services is a form of strategic outsourcing and comes with all the challenges and benefits of what that means.
Don’t make the classic mistake of believing that once you outsource something you no longer have to worry about it (You are still concerned that the floors get swept). The old model of outsourcing your problem’s does not work in this model either.
By all means look strategically at integrating alternative suppliers into your IT value chain, just be aware of what that means. For more thoughts on integrating external suppliers successfully take a look t the article I wrote: Your IT Outsourcer - A Brother of Another Mother
[Finale - Les Miserables]
Do you hear the people sing
Lost in the valley of the night?
It is the music of a people
Who are climbing to the light.
Will you join in our crusade?
Who will be strong and stand with me?
Somewhere beyond the barricade
Is there a world you long to see?
Do you hear the people sing?
Say, do you hear the distant drums?
It is the future that they bring
When tomorrow comes!
Troy’s Thoughts What Are Yours?
“Fools ignore complexity. Pragmatists suffer it. Some can avoid it. Geniuses remove it.” ~Alan Perlis