Follow by Email

Sunday, August 14, 2011

ITIL in The Cloud - 2

ITIL in The Cloud (part 2)

In part one I introduced the notion that taking advantage of good business practice in all its forms like ITIL just makes sense, and even more so as one considers operating in, or with, the Cloud.

But when we talk about “the Cloud” what the heck do we mean?

How about this definition from the National Institute of Standards and Technology in the U.S.:
“Cloud computing is a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction. This cloud model promotes availability and is composed of five essential characteristics, three service models, and four deployment models.”

Aha! We are talking about a model for the use of computing resources.

How does that fit with the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL)? Well, on a scale of 1 to 5 where 5 is best probably about a 10.

Why so high?

  • ITIL is indifferent to the device technology used because it is concerned with the strategic, design, transition, operations, and improvement levels or layers working above the technology. ITIL deals with the thinking, organizing, and procedural aspects of running the IT business.
  • It recognizes the most critical resource left out of the above definition – the people involved, as both a resource and a source of capability.
  • Rapid provision of services depends on strong design, controlled transition, sound operations, continual improvement (particularly keeping in mind that fewer lifecycle errors leads to higher overall speed of provision).
  • Being able to release with minimal management effort / service provider interaction hinges on sound, well executed process as encouraged by ITIL.
  • And, availability (as well as the other warranty areas of capacity, contingency, and security) are well covered in the ITIL practices

In general, the more complicated the situation, the more benefit can be derived from other's experiences and best practices. Why make all their mistakes – again?

So then if an organization has a solid foundation of ITIL practices and processes, their various roles and responsibilities across the organization figured out, their IT Services catalogued, change and deployment activities under control, etc. then everything is perfect?

“Perfect” is a stretch (unless I am their Advisor). :-)

But I think the question boils down to:
Would you like to take advantage of the terminology, common understanding, thoroughness of checklists and process steps, clarity of roles and responsibilities, and structure of the lifecycle perspective that the best practices from ITIL have to offer, or be mediocre on purpose?

And that can be the difference between seeing the sun above the Cloud or getting rained on.

For more about ITIL and IT Leadership please contact me via

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

ITIL in The Cloud - 1

ITIL in The Cloud (part 1)

At the risk of sounding like one of the Four Yorkshiremen in the Monty Python sketch talking about how rough their childhoods were...

When I was a lad I had to get up before going to bed, walk barefoot through ten foot snowdrifts, and write Assembler code and such for mainframes such as the IBM 360, DEC PDP-10, and Xerox Data Systems Sigma 7. (Yes; Xerox Corporation was briefly in the mainframe business after buying Scientific Data Systems. And their research facility really did inaugurate desktop networked Personal Computers etc. long before anyone else. All fascinating stories for another time.)

And in those days of mainframes closeted in well protected data centres we had to play by the rules – for access, usage privileges, changes, etc. - because the strict governance of these million dollar babies was crucial to the owning organization, and careers.

Today we have, ta-da, the Cloud.

So as we begin to operate “in the Cloud” should we toss away everything we learned fifty years ago, including solid business practice for managing computing resources and services such as the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL)?

A business associate, Will Shook, writes as he starts up another information technology and services company [Accelerence, LLC]:
The issue at hand for me is this:  we built a model around computing many years ago and very good practices were developed in the glass house.  Then we went to client / server computing and everybody forgot everything about controls and processes.   Skip forward to the cloud and it seems everyone has forgot about good governance once again as they get focused on the technology, but not predictable results from the technology.  Good governance is more important than ever now, given the sharing of workloads, the mixed model of asset ownership and operation, and the preponderance of devices, data, and access methods.  ITIL should be a huge win in the world of the cloud.
Absolutely should be!

As the technology gets more complicated, and the management of it gets more complicated, and the difficulty of understanding what is done for whom, by whom, and under what circumstances increases, doesn't it make sense to take advantage of good business practice?

In fact, for those organizations who have developed thorough IT Service Management processes with ARCI tables, Service Portfolios and Catalogues, strong Operating Level Agreements and Service Level Agreements (just to note a few) moving to the use of Cloud services is easier.  At least they know what services they are talking about, can plug in new roles and responsibilities readily, and pinpoint service level requirements and dependencies.

If you are about to change some or all of your computing model isn't it nice to know in detail what you do today, how you do it, and have insightful and directed questions for your new Cloud suppliers?

Beats walking barefoot through ten foot snowdrifts!

For more about ITIL and IT Leadership please contact me via