Welcome to the first of many blog post addressing IT Service Management and Delivery.
Over the past several years, we in the IT world have embraced the “as a Service” mantra in the race to the Cloud. Striving to establish a quantifiable value from enabling some aspect of “on demand” services to the business we support with our IT offerings. Generally starting with Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) in which IT offers the fundamental infrastructure “plumbing” services. Provisioning a computer/server base, whether physical of virtual, storage, networks, and all of the other basic components within an IT data center. A place to start. Then came Platform as a Service (PaaS); an offering of hardware, operating system and/or database, development platform or web service for someone to run workloads on top of. And finally, we have Software as a Service (SaaS). Applications run in data centers so that the business simply connects and executes there tasks. No fuss, no mess, no maintenance.
These cloud based concepts have taken up residence in the vocabulary of today’s IT world and have become the new goal organization who believe that off-loading these components to others will somehow represent a greater value proposition. Defining a value greater than the associated costs of the pieces that have for years defined IT and tattooed “cost center” across its services. If we look at what is offered through The Cloud, we come to the conclusion of the net offering of “IT as a Service” (ITaaS). The concept is not that strange and is often referred to, but rarely well defined. All IT organizations claim to offer their services in support of the business, but are hard press to actually state the value of their services. Often, even defining the costs associated with service delivery seems to elude the IT pros.
If IT is to truly be a service, then the start must be to ensure that it is well defined and articulated. What is included in the service? Who is accountable for the services? What Guarantees are there in place for the continuity and availability of the service? How does business know what it is getting? Who’s responsible for the associated costs? How is Security being dealt with?
One thing that must be understood, no matter which Cloud offering is selected, is that ultimately, the business customer must still hold itself accountable for some components of the service. It could be in the SLA negotiation, which are more often never negotiated nor defined, but only believed to be in existence. Even with public cloud offerings, one fundamental truth must be realized. An organization can never outsource its responsibilities. It must be accountable to its investors, it customers, its shareholders, or whoever it must answer to.
Let’s start with a basic definition. ITaaS (IT as a Service) – The offering of IT components for the consumption by business organizations in the pursuit of its fundamental business deliverables. The scope and parameters of the service are to be defined through negotiations with its customers and consumers. Fundamental to all this is the underlying processes that help drive the right activities that support the business in requesting the services and IT in delivering them. Processes that define and govern changes, monitoring, reporting, availability, continuity, escalation, incident, problem, alerting, cost, accountability and responsibilities. Other functions and properties can be defined, but these should be considered as some of the fundamental ones.
The eventual combination of components that will comprise the ITaaS offering for a customer must firstly be defined in itself. The easiest method would be to have all the components enumerated within a catalogue. This of course is nothing new, as Service catalogues have existed for a long time. The idea of selecting from a catalogue is also not a new concept. Often, when business selects from a Service Catalogue, IT also selects from its own catalogue of supporting service items to ensure that it can deliver the business selection, ITaaS should take these two steps and automate it so that as business selects, all supporting components and their associated costs and requirements are selected in response.
Stay tuned to later post where we will continue to explore IT delivered as a service and what needs to be considered.