ITIL and cloud (Part 1): ITIL 2011 speaks about cloud computing. Is this enough?

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Note: Through the end of the year, we’ll be posting one blog per day from our top 10 “greatest hits” from Thoughts on Cloud since we launched in September. This post is #7 and was originally published on Sept. 30.

When I was informed about the most significant updates of the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) 2011 edition (published at the end of July), I was positively impressed by the inclusion of considerations about ITIL and the new industry trend of cloud computing.

Finally I got access to the new books and had time to quickly go through them and evaluate the new content. To be honest, I was quite disappointed with the result around cloud computing and ITIL. I think we have lost an opportunity to listen to an authoritative voice speaking about service management and its strategic importance for planning, designing, and delivering cloud services.

Clearly the intent of this 2011 review was focusing on major tasks such as the clarification of service strategy concepts and the addressing of issues raised through the publication change-control process, and it was not possible to perform a significant update around the implication of cloud computing. We then have to continue to discuss the topic of service management in the context of cloud computing, and to apply our experience and common sense for what we know is a key ingredient for a successful IT transformation and cloud adoption.

For the time being, I summarize the type of cloud-related content that was introduced in ITIL 2011; in future blogs, I will continue to discuss ITIL and cloud, going into more depth about various themes. Follow me on Twitter @ClaudioValant and on Thoughts on Cloud.

I also invite readers of this blog to post comments and ask questions in order to enrich our ideas and contribute to the discussion of this important topic.

ITIL 2011 Content on Cloud Computing

The majority of cloud-related content can be found in the ITIL Service Strategy book. This is actually the right approach for introducing cloud because it underlines the importance of a strategic planning for cloud adoption. It also positions cloud services in the broader context of IT service strategy, making all the connections with ITIL concepts and demonstrating how cloud computing is simply a specific sourcing, consumption, and delivery model that can be considered and effectively governed following ITIL best practices.

Let’s start from the end of the Service Strategy book where we find “Appendix C: Service Strategy and the Cloud.”

In the introduction, cloud computing is recognized as a fundamental trend that will play a vital role in the service provider’s strategy; however, writing guidance for best practices to define, manage, and deliver service in the cloud is still too early. The chapter doesn’t go very far from this and continues by introducing the characteristics and attributes of cloud services and the various types of service delivery and deployment models. The definition is aligned with NIST definition without adding significant value.

It then briefly introduces a simplified cloud architecture made of four major components: Service Catalog and Portal, Service Governance, Service Delivery Management, and Infrastructure and Service Delivery. The architecture gives an approximate idea of the areas to be developed but you can refer to the more comprehensive IBM Cloud Computing Reference Architecture (IBM CCRA), whose overview document was submitted to and published through TOGAF. Also, refer to the NIST Cloud Computing Reference Architecture document that is based on the IBM CCRA and additional industry frameworks and standards that establish a reference for governance agency to understand and position components and offerings of cloud computing.

In the remainder of the Service Strategy book, cloud computing is sometimes referred to throughout the various chapters, demonstrating how Service Strategy concepts apply to this new sourcing and delivery model. The following items are references to cloud in the Service Strategy book to give you an idea of how cloud can be positioned in the context of Service Strategy (SS):

  • SS § Cloud as one of the possible external services for IT
  • SS §3.3.4 External service provider to be considered in the reconfiguration of the Value Net when adopting a cloud model.
  • SS § Cloud computing example in the discussion about defining service units and packages ,and combining various cloud services into a service offering
  • SS §3.7.2 Tab. 3.20 Cloud as a sourcing structure.
  • SS § Cloud services as an example of how demand-based positioning in the strategy generation form a position phase (The service is created by the consumer combining separate base services from one or more cloud service providers)
  • SS § Cloud solutions as enabler of changes in the business strategy through the review of the service portfolio and possible access to new customers
  • SS § Example of the value of financial management in decisions regarding cloud
  • SS §6.8.11 Cloud reference regarding sourcing roles

The other ITIL books rarely refer to cloud. In particular, I found the following items in Service Design (SD), Service Transition (ST), Service Operation (SO), and Continual Service Improvement (CSI) books:

  • SD §1.1.4 Service Design as a way to improve alignment with customer value and IT strategies for organizations adopting cloud technologies
  • SD §3.11.2 Table 3.5 Advantages and disadvantages of cloud sourcing structures
  • ST §8.3 Implementing Service Transition in a virtualized or cloud environment (This is a short but effective synthesis of cloud implication for the transition phase.)
  • SO § Application management function responsible also for SaaS-based application
  • CSI § Cloud computing as a delivery model in evolution to be considered when CSI evaluates possible service improvement and change
  • CSI §7 Service Management suite now offered also with SaaS
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