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To optimize cloud services, follow this plan of action

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By Louise Ng

 

As I work with customers who are moving to a hybrid service delivery model, I am seeing a trend in my conversations around where they are in their journey. Hybrid service delivery can include a mix of public and private cloud, and services from internal IT and external service providers. This means IT has to be able to broker pieces and parts of a service as it evolves, and that brings up a lot of questions.

                                                                                                                                                          

I see that most HP Software Professional Services customers start their infrastructure projects by building a scalable resource pool. Once they master that, they often don’t know what to do next.  They ask, “How do we make the resource pool(s) consumable and desirable to our customers?” and “Who are our customers?  Are they IT or IT and the business?” as well as, “Is it economical for IT to be the only resource provider?” Customers also ask me about best practices around security and monitoring the cloud, how to manage the services the cloud is providing, and how to measure service levels. 

 

The IT4IT foundation for best practices

The answers to these questions point to the capabilities that are part of the Open Group’s IT4IT Reference Architecture, which serves as the foundation for best practices and is based on four basic activities, or IT value chains. Each value chain includes capability chains made up of both Apps and Ops processes that have been the guideposts of IT shops for the last three decades. We’ve all applied industry standards such as Agile, Lean, Six Sigma, COBIT, ITIL, and Val IT to optimize and reduce cost in our enterprise IT shops.

 

The key issue at hand is, “how much” of these processes do we need to make service delivery successful?

 

Assess the maturity of key processes

My opinion is that there is a maturity curve in all of this. We need to understand our current state of key processes so we know how we can optimize over time. This is no different than any other transformation IT has taken on.

 

Whether you build your own private cloud or you buy cloud from an external service provider, for success you need to include fundamental ITIL processes such as portfolio management, service catalog management, and service asset and configuration management, to name just a few.

 

Key steps for successful cloud services

I consistently discuss this list of activities from customer to customer. Follow this plan of action to optimize service delivery. Start with your service portfolio so you know what services and/or workloads you need to build.

 

  1. Build service design packages and a service tree data model that lives in your configuration management system. The service design package should describe what the service will deliver, as well as the expected service level, who owns the service, how the service will be consumed, how it will be priced, and any vendors or contracts that relate to the service delivery. Once you have the service design package, you can build a service tree data model that shows how the application and the technology come together to support service delivery.
  2. Ensure that you expose your services for consumption in a service catalog.
  3. Set up basic service levels that you know are achievable. Over time, learn how you can create differentiated services as your service delivery capability matures.
  4. Decide what your fulfillment workflows are behind the service catalog. You have to have a process behind the request so you can fulfill the request. You likely will have a mix of manual and automated tasks in your first release. As you mature, the manual steps will become automated.
  5. Initiate a set of requirements to automate the monitoring of the cloud as a resource pool for availability and capacity, recognizing that fully automated monitoring will come in phases. You should also automate the cloud service offering lifecycle, to make sure you fulfill requests for service as quickly as possible. If you fail to meet the need for speed, customers will go around IT to find suppliers on their own.
  6. On the Apps side transition from waterfall to agile, automating application development by using a true platform-as-a-service (PaaS) for the developers to accelerate the code-to-test-to-release lifecycle.
  7. Normalize and standardize the practices of requirements management, test management, and release management to reap the benefits of migrating workloads to the cloud.

Here’s how these steps map to the four IT value chains I mentioned above:

 

  1. Strategy to portfolio: Determine what your services are and develop service definitions
  2. Requirements to deploy: From the service definitions, build applications and services that can be readily consumed for ease of use
  3. Request to fulfill: Expose those services via a service catalog, with automated fulfillment processes providing speed and consistency
  4. Detect to correct: Monitor each service lifecycle to ensure proactive management of the service health 

 If your enterprise IT is lucky enough to have already standardized on the capabilities inside each of the IT value chains, you have a jump start. If not, then your first step is to develop just enough maturity in these key capabilities to begin your journey toward success in using cloud. For more on how to get the most from cloud, read this HP business white paper: Cloud service lifecycle—service monitoring (registration required).

 

Louise.jpgLouise Ng has more than 25 years in multiple IT positions across a variety of industries. Today she is the WW CTO role for Cloud & Automation services at HP, and she specializes in leading large-scale projects that deliver quality services through operational optimization. Follow her on Twitter @LouiseNgHP

 

 

 

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