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Service Brokering for Core / Fluid IT cooperation


When I talk to customers about the concepts of bimodal IT and Fluid and Core IT, there is consensus that the most important thing to get right is the service provider / service consumer relationship between Core and Fluid IT.  

Core IT provides services, and Fluid IT groups consumer those service (and, of course, others - we’ll get to that when we talk about hybrid IT a little later).

This post contains the following sections : 

1. What kinds of services should Core IT become a provider of?
2. We need to "cloudify" the services offered by Core IT
3. The Single IT Store Front
4. We’re going to need to work in a world of Hybrid IT
5. The importance of Application, API and Service Portfolio Planning

6. Summary
7. Other blog posts on Digitial Disruption and The Digitization of Everything 

1. What kinds of services should Core IT become a provider of?

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a. APIs onto Core’s Systems of Record :

Probably most importantly, Core IT must provide APIs onto the systems of record which they own. This might include the central banking application, the customer Records Management application, the central catalogue of services offered, or the ERP system.

People are increasingly looking to deliver these APIs as micro-services thru RESTful APIs.

b. Basic Infrastructure Services :

The simplest services Core IT might provide are what we might call “basic infrastructure services” like servers and storage. Ah, you are probably thinking, that sounds awfully close to what Amazon and the like have proven they are good at providing. And you are right, unless there are security or compliance reasons why Amazon et el can’t be used in your organization, you may want to consider going head-to-head with Amazon very carefully.

c. Environments :

How about infrastructure services that have something on top of them? Like a development environment for your organization that talks to the APIs that your organization uses to talk to its Systems of Record? Or, a test environment for testing apps that work in your organization? Or, how about a Big Data environment that Fluid IT can use to do its analysis?

What we’re doing here is adding organisation-specific content on top of the basic infrastructure services.

These Environments give more value to Fluid IT and they mean that Core IT is no longer competing with the large cloud infrastructure providers.

d. Application Containers :

As we develop our application, we’ll want to put it into system test, limited rollout and eventually, into production. The server components of our application will need to live in an application container in Core IT’s datacenter. This container will, of course, be the server, storage and networking and the middleware on top of this.

But we should not forget about management. We need our application to be “plumbed into the datacenter” - we want it to be under availability and performance management, under automated compliance scanning, under unified security management and holistic, application-level data protection.

Our “application container” services should offer all of this - both the server, storage, networking and middleware and the automatic plumbing into the management of the datacenter.

2. We need to “Cloudify” the services offered by Core IT


Core IT needs to create these services and then “cloudily” them. By this, we mean that they need to automate the provisioning so that they can be stood up quickly.

And we need to put in place resource flexing so that the services’ capacity can be expanded or contracted without Fluid IT having to ask for more resource every time there is resource constraint. This is done thru predefined flexing policies and is enacted thru technologies like the Software-defined Datacenter.

(This idea of figuring out the resource flexing policies up front, and not at runtime, is a type of “shift left”. Shift left is a concept that DevOps experts talk about a lot. They talk about “Shift left testing” - doing testing as early in the development lifecycle as possible, rather than doing tons of coding, only to find out it’s not what customers really wanted. They talk about “Shift left management” - putting the application under management as soon as possible - during system test, typically. And this is “shift left resource allocation” - figuring out how the resource will flex at design time and not at run-time. So, if you want to impress a DevOps expert, just think of a term, and add “shift left” to the front of it, because “shift left is good” : -)

3. The Single IT Storefront

What should Core IT do with these services once they have created them? They need a single, IT storefront where Fluid IT, and others, can go to find out what is on offer and what the different services do. Once they press the “I’ll have one” button, we need the orchestration to provision those services. If Core IT is going to look more like a “cloud service provider”, this Single IT Storefront is an essential ingredient.

4. We’re going to need to work in a world of Hybrid IT

IT is increasingly using SaaS for those applications that don’t differentiate the organization. And, Fluid IT will almost certainly use not just Core IT’s services, but other cloud services as well. And so, both Core and Fluid IT will be building, testing and managing “hybrid applications” - applications where some components are in their owned data center while other components live in the cloud.

Creation and management of hybrid applications brings a number of unique challanges with it and we need testing, deployment, availability and performance management, change, compliance, security, data protection and service desk tools that are “hybrid application capable”.

5. The importance of Application, API and Service Portfolio Planning

The question I get asked a lot is, “what API’s should I provide and what “cloudified services” shall I provide?” This is a tough question to answer, but it is something that must go into the planning process between Core IT, Fluid IT and the business. Hopefully, IT already does Application Portfolio Management planning. This must be expanded to become Application, Service and API planning.

I’ll go into this planning process in more detail in another blog post. I think it’s hugely important and there are a couple of models that, I think, will help.

6. Summary

I’ve talked to a lot of customers about The Digitization of Everything, Core and Fluid IT and the cooperation areas that we need to put in place between Core and Fluid IT. And the cooperation area that these customers believe is most important is that of the service provider / service broker relationship - APIs onto the Systems of Record, cloudized services and the single IT storefront.

7. Related Blog Posts

So that’s a brief introduction to the five cooperation areas that need to exist between Core and Fluid IT. We’re going to go into each of these areas in a little more detail in the next blog posts.

Below is a list of related blog posts on The Digitization of Everything and Core / Fluid IT:

1. The Digitization of Everything and A New Style of Business : digitally-based, software-powered products allow the business to do things very differently. We can release "minimum viable product", we can experiment with new products we can "continuously innovate". 

2. Digital Disuption: From Transforming a Product to Disrupting an Industry : digitization starts with a digital product that replaces the analog one. Think CD or DVD or home thermostat. But, once products are digital, the business model can be disrupted - think Spotify, think "the connected home", think Uber, think AirBnB. This blog looks at this disruption for a number of industries including transportation, retail banking and the connected home. 

3.  Digitization of Everything and the role of Central IT : digital disruptions are "software powered". Which is great because IT creates software, doesn't it? But it's a very different style of software development to that that we used for our Systems of Record. 

4.  Capitalize on The Digitization of Everything with two different IT modes : IT can't be innovative, cool, experimental and reliable, careful and solid using the same people, the same behaviours, the same processes, the same supplier relationships. We need to split IT into two - Core IT and Fluid IT.

5.  The Guardian Function - making the Core / Fluid IT co-operation work : If the two parts of IT, the Fluid and the Core, don't cooperate with each other, we'll eventually become uncompetitive and inefficient across the whole organization We need to ensure that the two parts of IT work well together. This is part technology (as discussed in the next blog post) and partly about governance, finance and attitudes. This blog post talks about "The Guardian Function"; that function that ensures the cooperation works. 

6.  The Five Areas of Cooperation between Core and Fluid IT : I've broken the technical aspects of cooperation between Core and Fluid IT into five areas : i. Service Brokering, ii. Continuous Delivery, iii. Creating a best-in-class user experience, iv. Big Data and v. Protecting your assets. This blog post looks at these five areas in overview.

7. (This blog post)  Service Brokering for Core and Fluid IT cooperation : This post dives into what customers tell me is the most important of the five cooperation areas; Service Brokering. 

8. How to get to Continuous Delivery and thus, Continuous Innovation : This post looks at the second cooperation area; getting Continuous Delivery of new functionality. This entails a flow of new releases from Fluid across to Core IT. It is, of course, DevOps, but I've put a Core/Fluid IT spin on it. 

9. How to create an Engaging, Best-in-class  Digital User Experience : Digital products pretty much always mean either a mobile application and / or a smart device like a smart cooker, a smart thermostat, or a smart shopping trolley. We need to ensure that the user experience of that mobile application or smart device is best-in-class. How do we do this across our Fluid and Core IT teams?

My "" topic on the Digitzation of Everything - a couple of times a week, I post interesting articles on what's happening in the world of "the Digitization of Everything".

Everything I post releated to The Digitization of Everything, I also tweet  -  @mike_j_shaw

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Mike Shaw
Director Strategic Marketing

linkedin.gifMike Shaw

About the Author


Mike has been with HPE for 30 years. Half of that time was in research and development, mainly as an architect. The other 15 years has been spent in product management, product marketing, and now, strategic marketing. .

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