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3 hard lessons about embracing a hybrid cloud strategy to transform into service-oriented IT

NimishShelat

Louise Ng.PNGBy Louise Ng, Chief Technology Officer of Worldwide Cloud Hybrid Delivery, HP Software

 

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing series of guest posts about Automation and Cloud Management use cases at HP Software customers.

 

 

Some people might think of the financial services industry as highly stable — even dull. But in recent years, the velocity of change in this industry has been phenomenal, and it’s driving businesses to react and shift gears much more quickly.

For the past thee years I have worked with a customer where both ITSM and cloud have played a pivotal role. This company decided that it needed to be in a better position to leverage a rapidly-changing technology landscape in shorter cycles in order to improve its business agility and competitiveness with both new entrants and existing competitors.

At the same time, this financial services company faced increasing demands on IT. It needed a way to cost-effectively scale and adapt its infrastructure as business grew — both to deal with rising customer and business partner expectations for 24/7 “always on” access, and to set up platforms for new initiatives quickly and inexpensively.

Of course, the company also had the typical operational challenges related to maintaining the currency of its infrastructure amid an increasing rate of change, with too much manual engineering (and associated costs) to maintain technology as scale increases.

Before Cloud

All of this probably sounds pretty familiar to anyone working in IT during the last decade. Like many organizations, this company’s IT operations were techno-centric, oriented by technology, not services, with applications designed and assets procured on a per-project basis. It required long lead times to change capacity and extended provisioning time. Manual configurations increased the risk of errors. And coordination between multiple teams was always a struggle.

The cloud was the change the company needed — a contemporary design and delivery approach for business solutions and services that would enable flexibility and agility in ways that were not available in the past.

A Methodical Journey

In the first quarter of 2015, after about two and half years of gradual, methodical progress, this company reached full-scale production implementation, including IaaS, PaaS, DBaaS and ITSM integration production workloads (Figure 1).

 

 

Timeline of Cloud adoption.PNG

 

Today, the company has a service-oriented IT organization, with a shared pool of pre-designed standard services and configurable resources available on demand that offer a high level of re-use. It delivers push-button, automated provisioning and self-service, with provisioning in minutes or hours and elastic capacity-on-demand. The company has also increased its resiliency. Standardization and end-to-end service automation are its watchwords.

The company adopted a hybrid cloud strategy, combining the most appropriate mix of its private Cloud and public cloud services that will best meet business needs while balancing the risk and flexibility (Figure 2).

 

Sample hybrid cloud functional architecture.PNG

 

 

Lessons learned

How did the company get there? As you can see in the graphic above, it did not happen overnight — and it’s not done yet. But at this stage, the company’s journey does offer a few insights into the challenges it encountered, and how they overcame them.

  1. Changing the operational model As I noted above, the company’s IT operational model was techno-centric and, unfortunately, that cultural mindset was reflected in its approach to adopting Cloud, too. At first, they focused primarily on the new technology architectures they were designing and their plans for adapting the key roles and operating model processes lagged behind. For example, the company was moving to a Bimodal IT model, as espoused by Gartner, which would have one “traditional” mode for scalability, efficiency, safety and accuracy, but another “fluid” mode for agility and speed. It needed to explore and adapt to new opportunities with agile, fast, just-safe-enough techniques, and acquire new skillsets and create new teams. It was easier to change technology than people. In terms of processes, it was defining new standards and transforming its governance framework for new business and operational processes, but also to optimize and automate existing business and operational processes. The company did two things to get back on course: first, it established clear, achievable goals for people and processes that progressed in parallel to the technology, and second, it recruited an active executive sponsor to drive this larger change. Lesson learned: Manage people and process changes in parallel to technology

 

> Download the Forrester analyst report, “Helping IT Transform: The Rise of Organizational Change Management Services

 

  1. Slow Cloud adoption There were several reasons for the company encountering this challenge. One was that it underestimated the transition from traditional IT to IT self-service. It also suffered from trying the “we will build it, they will come” syndrome. And at the initial stages, the end user was IT on IT. The business couldn’t see the benefits — from their perspective, they still experienced the same pain points around ITSM and Security practices integrations. To broaden the use of the Cloud you have to journey out to the Lines of Business. It helps to know your customers’ expectations quite clearly and start small, to show gradual results and value. Defining KPIs up front is important, so you can report progress and drive continuous improvements. You also need to actually promote your cloud services to get people to use them. The company found it useful to team up with an enterprise architect to understand things like service lifecycle expectations and compliance factors. The data architecture that underlies the configuration of assets was a key gap that needed to be clarified in order to drive more solution deployments on the cloud. This correlates to understanding the state of the asset in the Cloud as far as health, capacity, availability and compliance. Lesson learned: Be strategic with how you drive adoption

 

  1. Best practice pitfalls The company’s approach was to extensively leverage the knowledge of partners and vendors, which was grounded in good reasoning — ask the experts! But relying too heavily on the best practices from multiple vendors and partners leads to convoluted designs and processes. Multiple points of view could lead to confusion and conflicts that delayed the success of the implementation effort. In the end, the team learned to always evaluate the best practices based on its own knowledge of what it was trying to achieve and own the decision on how to solve for the requirements and the architecture that was needed to meet the customer needs. Lesson learned: Own the requirements and architecture

 

This particular company has undertaken a remarkable transformation in the space of about three years, with more exciting developments to come. Getting this far has required a lot of careful planning and methodical change management. In fact, it was that methodical approach that enabled the leadership team to know right away when it had drifted off course. One thing is certain: no organization’s journey to the cloud is ever an uneventful straight line, but the destination makes it all worthwhile.

Learn more

Read more about HP Automation and Cloud Management

Find out how HP Management of Organizational Change professional services can help, or read the HP Professional Services ebook, “Deliver Business Value”.

 

Read the other blogs in this series:

 

 

About the author: Louise Ng currently leads HP Software's worldwide practice for Cloud and Automation Services, supporting customers with their transition to a new style of Service Delivery. In her current role, she works with HPSW Product Management and R&D teams to influence the maturation of HPSW to support a true Service Lifecycle from Service Onboarding through Service Retirement. Louise also works with customers to encourage the use of integrated standard ITSM processes to maintain the quality and effectiveness that they have achieved in their traditional IT enterprises.

 

 

 

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About the Author

NimishShelat

Nimish Shelat is currently focused on Datacenter Automation and IT Process Automation solutions. Shelat strives to help customers, traditional IT and Cloud based IT, transform to Service Centric model. The scope of these solutions spans across server, network, database and middleware infrastructure. The solutions are optimized for tasks like provisioning, patching, compliance, remediation and processes like Self-healing Incidence Remediation and Rapid Service Fulfilment, Change Management and Disaster Recovery. Shelat has 23 years of experience in IT, 20 of these have been at HP spanning across networking, printing , storage and enterprise software businesses. Prior to his current role as a Manager of Product Marketing and Technical Marketing, Shelat has held positions as Software Sales Specialist, Product Manager, Business Strategist, Project Manager and Programmer Analyst. Shelat has a B.S in Computer Science. He has earned his MBA from University of California, Davis with a focus on Marketing and Finance.

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