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3 steps to designing the cloud services your users really need

MichaelGarrett

HP20140317928.jpg

 

“I don’t need IT.”

 

Have you ever suspected this is how some of your business users feel? HP Software Professional Services was interviewing end users at a big national agency in EMEA. This user—a high level official—told us he wasn’t interested in the IT services his agency provided. He did everything from his smartphone, using third-party cloud services like Dropbox. And he thought that IT was really just for his management. In his view, he didn’t need it.

 

Of course most users realise that they use (and need) IT, but often times they choose to consume it from external providers. These days your business customer is likely consuming cloud services from a smartphone. And they may have similar feelings about enterprise IT not meeting their needs. Nobody wants to wait three weeks—or sometimes even three hours—for an IT service that they need to do their work.

 

But we’ve worked with in-house IT to deliver cloud services like the Google and Dropbox services users are accustomed to accessing. I’ll share the secrets behind our successes.

 

  1. Start from usage rather than technology

When we start work with a customer, the first thing we do is to understand how the people in the organisation use IT. This is absolutely critical. At the end of the day, no user out there is interested in a bunch of servers or storage. They want a service that will help them do their jobs.

 

But IT is very tech oriented. So we facilitate conversations between IT and people from the business and we have a candid discussion about IT. What we hear is often very eye-opening, even for us.

 

To go back to our conversation with the user who said he didn’t need IT. He told us he was using Gmail and Google Docs. He was using his smartphone to take pictures that he was sending from his personal account to his account at work. This was all usage that we could bring into a service catalog—once IT understood what it was he needed.

 

  1. Build your service catalog based on how end users use IT

 

At the end of the day our job is technical. So we do implement technical components that allow end users to have the usage they expect. But we work with in-house IT to create a single service that comprises multiple IT objects.

 

For example, from interviewing developers, we know that when they are beginning a new project they don’t just need a server to install software on. They also need a repository where they can store their code, a SharePoint or something like that to share documents. They will also need email addresses for new people coming onto the project. From all these needs we might build a single service called “New application project” that is oriented to how people will use it.

 

  1. Define sourcing and cost

Once you have an idea of the usage and the service catalog you’re going to build, then you can understand how to source. You don’t want to have a single nail and hammer at your disposal to fit very different needs. For instance, if you need Dropbox-like services you do not need the same kind of storage that you need to provision databases. Obviously the Dropbox storage is going to be much cheaper than the database.

 

It’s important to provision services at the lowest cost possible because whatever IT puts in a service catalog for the business is going to be compared to external service providers. Take spreadsheets, for example. If you’re going to put a web-based spreadsheet tool in your service catalog, understand that you’ll have a lot of usage, but you’ll also be compared to Google Docs or Microsoft. You need to be able to stand the comparison—either because you’re going to be cheaper or because you bring more value to it somehow.

 

Services like Dropbox and Google Docs are so usage oriented, that many people who use them don’t realise they are IT objects. When you’re building your service catalog look to provide the same level of usage focus. Whatever the end user needs to be as productive as he or she can on a daily basis—that’s that you want in your service catalog.

 

Learn more about our cloud and automation services.

 

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About the Author

MichaelGarrett

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