Cloud ITSM

By: Dave Saunders

The stampede to deploy cloud-based services by organizations threatens to overload IT and create far more problems than benefits, if not managed efficiently and efficiently. CIOs and IT service planners would do well ensuring that any moves to the cloud are preceded by a plan that ›involves what’s really going to be provided, along with the strategy for how to roll it out and support it.

You've heard the cliché before: “IT organizations are being forced to do more with less.” The reality is more annoying than that. The rest of the business doesn't care about IT. They don't care how hard it is to support servers, desktops, smart phones, tablets, printers, web services, the intranet, extranet--don't forget desk phones, business applications and the countless random applications that get loaded by people on their own accord. Even if they knew what a huge headache it all is, they still probably wouldn’t care.

And then these jokers come along and start demanding you move to the cloud. After all, they've read the same things about the cloud you have. It solves everything. The cloud is the solution to all problems. It slices. It dices. It makes Julienne Fries!

But does it?

All the demands for “technology” are just a smoke screen anyway. There’s lots of great technology out there today. People, more than ever before, and used to working with it. They expect it. However, in spite of the sleek lines and the nifty touch screens, it’s not really technology they’re after.

What Are You Managing?

The days of IT being the gatekeepers of technology in the workplace are long gone. The mystique is gone. People today are very comfortable around technology. Those who aren't can gain training through YouTube videos and DVDs sold through TV infomercials. The purpose of IT is providing services, not technology. Technology is simply a means of gaining access to essential services. Today’s IT departments must be focused on this fact and not get distracted by the myriad cool toys constantly coming down the pipe. Focus on the best means to provide key solutions. That may mean getting rid of the lumbering legacy servers running apps your staff hates anyway. Other times it may mean sticking with what you have until a better means of providing a needed service matures.
What can you do to insulate yourself, and the entire business from this chaos? Some simple improvements to your overall service life cycle can go a long way.

Lower the Insanity Quotient With a Service Management Portfolio

Think what and why before diving into how.

I worry about suggesting that an IT department spend time on building a standard service portfolio as being seen as a remedial suggestion. However, more often than not, it seems to be the most critical piece of the IT department's foundation that’s nowhere to be found. Operating without a defined service catalog leads to IT run amok.

Without a service catalog IT is expected to support anything that comes along. This in not unlike running a restaurant that offers any dish, in any cuisine, for one customer after the next. Sure the occasional “just give me two eggs and bacon” might not be a stretch, but most good dishes take time and require the right ingredients to be on-hand as well chef’s skills.

For best management practices, your service management portfolio should include three parts. Pending services, active services and retired services. This information doesn’t necessarily need to be published to the entire organization but the extra transparency might be beneficial. The important point is knowing what’s coming, what you’re signing up for today and what happened in the past.

Adopting a Full ITIL Service Life Cycle for Full Relief

While the thought of integrating ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library) practices into your organization may seem about as exciting as a tax audit, ITIL is simply a framework of well researched and documented best practices for designing and operating a professionally run IT organization. It explains what to do but doesn’t impose the “how,” leaving you the freedom to develop the right practices, which fit your entire organization. It’s a head start to help you effectively express your expertise and not the yoke of oppressive government-owned standards some perceive it as.
Implementing ITIL in an organization requires a bit of thought and planning. A set of focused ITSM tools, that doesn’t require its own massive expenditures, is important too.

They Get What You Pay For

It’s the output of a service which we pay for. The processes used to achieve that output are internal to IT. Therefore, efficiency is critical, as well as effectiveness. The point being, that when a customer requests a service from IT—say a fully-configured laptop—the steps needed to achieve the desired outcome (the laptop) do not, and should not matter. They want the laptop. More importantly, they want the output of the services and tasks performed with the laptop.

If your I.T. department has a highly streamlined process, which results in the prompt delivery of your laptop, that's great news. If a have a highly disorganized internal process, which increases the number of steps, that’s really not the customer’s problem but it definitely is I.T.’s problem. Look into solutions that will transform your business, wow your management and help better demonstrate IT’s real business values as you transition to ubiquitous cloud computing.