ITIL and cloud series: Cloud for strategy and strategy for cloud

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We have seen (ITIL 2011 speaks about cloud computing. Is this enough?) that the majority of cloud computing references in the latest ITIL release are just in the Service Strategy book; I then underlined (Beyond the books, ITIL value and cloud implications) how important it is to focus on cloud service strategy and cloud service design for the effectiveness of cloud adoption.

With this and the next blog I would like to stimulate your thinking around these two important phases, and also describe some of the experiences we’ve had and methodology that we normally use with clients.

Cloud for service strategy and strategy for cloud services

I definitely don’t like slogans, but I have to admit that the one introduced recently by IBM to speak about cloud computing is really powerful:

Only four words crafted into a couple of sentences to synthesize the entire value of cloud computing and the main guidelines that enterprises have to follow to be successful:

    • You need to strategically rethink your IT in terms of its delivery model with standardization, automation, and lean processes.
    • You can enable new way of doing business, providing innovative services to your organization and an effective consumption model.

In other words, cloud computing can support your service strategy and you need a strategy for cloud computing.

The value chain from IT to the business

The main objective for an IT service is to produce some value for the business. ITIL, in the Service Strategy book, clarifies that this means for IT to bring benefits to the customer assets; in other words, bring benefits directly to people, applications, information or infrastructures used by the business, or to capabilities to coordinate and manage them. ITIL classifies various way to bring value, such as:

    • Improve capabilities (processes, organization, knowledge).
    • Improve asset performance.
    • Improve resource usage.
    • Decrease costs.
    • Decrease risks.

Does it sound familiar? It is well aligned with the cloud computing value proposition, isn’t it? Cloud computing services, in their various service and deployment models, enable a new way to support the business, they define new market spaces for IT and needs, therefore to be considered in the strategy phase.

Cloud computing as a sourcing and delivery model

During the service strategy generation, there is a specific step focused on developing the strategic assets. Within it, and besides the obvious objective to identify and develop the proper IT assets that are best suited to enable valuable services, there is the recommendation to define the best delivery and sourcing models and to consider the service management as a strategic asset. What does this mean in terms of cloud computing?

  • Cloud computing is becoming an alternative sourcing option. IT needs to evaluate the competitiveness of available cloud computing services against internal services for various workload types. By not considering it, the risk is that business organizations can potentially buy and directly consume IT services from an external cloud service provider; in this way the IT is disintermediated, and risks for security and compliance are increased.
  • On the other side, cloud computing can open new markets in terms of new useful services, or in the possibility for IT to become a service provider for a group of organizations or for consumers.
  • The strategy must carefully analyze various roles: consumer, provider, integrator.
  • Strategy needs to consider the potential of new delivery models and service characteristics offered by cloud computing in the form of both private or public services.
  • Strategy also has to evaluate service assets that are strategic to standardize, automate, and provide runtime infrastructure for cloud computing service.
  • Strategy has to evaluate changes in the governance and service management processes.
  • Finally, it needs to carefully plan for management. If you remember, the Cloud Computing Reference Architecture (CCRA) we are clearing referring to the NIST Service Management or the IBM Cloud Computing Management Platform (CCMP). The CCRA used in the context of strategy generation helps define which components must be developed as a strategic service management asset to successfully adopt and control the new cloud computing services.

Generating your strategy for cloud computing services

Specific methodologies and assets can help in defining the strategy for cloud computing services by identifying proper service and deployment models and a viable roadmap to facilitate the transformation.

One of the IBM cloud consultancy practices uses a four-phase process to help generate the cloud strategy:

In the Strategic alignment phase, we:

    • Review current IT and business environment.
    • Introduce cloud concepts and analysis framework.
    • Determine IT provider relationship profile.
    • Review IT priorities.

In the Cloud opportunity identification phase, we:

    • Identify potential cloud opportunity areas.
    • Determine desired cloud targets.
    • Assess potential cloud workloads.

In the Current IT environment assessment phase, we:

    • Review overall IT readiness for cloud.
    • Analyze the current IT environment and the future requirements to support cloud.
    • Define gaps in current IT capabilities.

In the Prioritization of IT initiatives phase, we:

    • Assign priority and estimated effort to closing each cloud-related IT gap.
    • Analyze the cloud computing opportunity.
    • Produce a cloud readiness assessment report.
    • Produce a high-level cloud road map.


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