Impact of Cloud Computing on IT Service Management

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You wouldn’t be completely wrong if you made this general comment regarding most organisations’ cloud infrastructure strategy, “use public cloud services for Test and Development environments and develop an on-premise IaaS for Production environments.”

This relatively simple approach is borne out of the need for IT Infrastructure Management to be more responsive to Development Projects who find it easier to get development environments procured quicker externally than provisioned internally.  Furthermore, in my experience, the home-grown on-premise IaaS on offer is basically pre-provisioned infrastructure and not really consumed or charged according to actual usage.  Mainly because the capability required for the IT Infrastructure Management department to operate in a true cloud service mode is not in place.

As experience of using public cloud services increases, organisations’ cloud infrastructure strategies are maturing to include multi-cloud and hybrid cloud computing for enterprise scale production workloads.  This is being enabled by technologies such as containerisation and serverless architecture, and the mitigation of security and regulatory concerns.

An organisation’s shift to hybrid cloud will have a consequential impact on their IT Service Management and Operations functions.  They will require new ways of working to effectively deliver IT in an “as a service cloud mode.”

In general, current support operations are sufficient to deliver IT support in a “traditional way.” However, their current level of capability prevents operating in a cloud mode.  Their processes are by in large siloed and the division of roles and responsibilities are usually aligned by technology or process discipline.  This prevents fluent execution of service delivery activities that involve multiple processes and teams.  Additionally, many tools are standalone and lack the integration required to facilitate streamlined end-to-end workflow.  Consequently, delivery operations have to be supplemented by additional governance and personnel to ensure delivery progress across functions.

To operate in a cloud delivery mode many of the existing service management operations need to be integrated and augmented with additional functionality to become service orientated.

Infrastructure is now consumed and provisioned as a service when required by the customer.  To operate like this, key functions are required to enable the IT Department to become an IT Shop.  This includes a Service Catalogue, populated with curated environment patterns, which is integrated with an Ordering and Billing function (just like our very own Argos).  This is at the line of visibility and is the interface between the end user (shopper) and the infrastructure provisioning function (dispatcher).  Some IT Support Operations continue as usual such as House Keeping, Patch Management, Log Management and Monitoring (making sure you can support IT) but others become more important and need to be enhanced.  These include Configuration Management, Capacity Management, Server Provisioning and Metering (making sure you can provide IT).  The integration of these processes to become a comprehensive delivery function is paramount to providing a fluent end-to-end service.

In order to address this, organisations will have to answer three fundamental questions:

  • “How will we manage the hybrid cloud IT Service?”
  • “What new functions and capabilities will we need that we don’t have?”
  • “How will we get to where we need to be?”

The answer to these questions lies in the definition of a new Service Management Target Operating Model and Transformation Plan to implement the operational capabilities required to function according to the desired state; a cloud infrastructure as a service provider.

The Target Operating Model Provides the end state vision of how the Cloud Infrastructure as a Service will operate.  And contains a description of each IT function and the additional underlying process, organisation, tool and governance capability required.

It is essential as it enables the efficient and effective delivery of IT services to the business, depicts how tools should be applied to facilitate the operation, clarifies how new and existing organisation functions should be deployed and integrates processes in order to become service orientated.

Fortunately, IBM’s Global Technology Services has a world class method to help define the Target Operating Model; IT Service Management Strategy and Assessment.  For more information about this contact Dr Lloyd I Dale, Associate Partner IBM, via

Associate Partner, IBM Services

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