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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

ITIL in The Cloud - 3

ITIL in The Cloud (part 3)

In this series I have been discussing the usefulness of the ITIL Framework when dealing with the model of computing referred to as “the Cloud”. (Definition provided in part 2).

It's always interesting to see a tidal wave of articles about a phenomenon where the terminology or jargon is readily waved about, positions are staked out, bets placed, opinions posited before we even come to terms with what the topic actually is about.

For example:

From “CIOs lack adequate cloud computing knowledge"
By:  Stephanie Overby    -   02 Aug 2011
A survey of cloud providers and outsourcers returns some embarrassing scores on the cloud skills of IT executives. 
Traditional IT outsourcing customers are struggling with cloud computing, according to IT service providers and outsourcing advisors surveyed by KPMG Sourcing Advisory. IT service providers and advisors rated their IT executive customers' facility with various aspects of cloud computing on a scale of one to five, where one represented "very unskilled" and five represented "very skilled." IT executives earned embarrassing scores from their providers and advisors: None garnered even a middling score of three. 
When it comes to managing and governing cloud initiatives, IT leaders earned their lowest scores from respondents: 1.69 from advisors and 2.19 from providers.
(Note the precision in the scores of two places of decimal – very scientific indeed! Unfortunately we aren't given the sample size or information on the demographics.)

The article continues to point out that it is the pace of technology change, including the development of the Cloud environment, that is a big difficulty, and that the IT management skills required need to be learned and practiced more.

Hmmm. Smells like a framework of best practices in this area could be helpful.

A framework like, say, ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library)?

And how could that learning and increased used of the best practices help?

According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology in the U.S. the Cloud has
  • five essential characteristics (On-demand self-service, Broad network access, Resource pooling, Rapid elasticity, Measured Service)
  • three service models (Cloud Software as a Service (SaaS), Cloud Platform as a Service (PaaS), Cloud Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS))
  • and, four deployment models (Private cloud, Community cloud, Public cloud, Hybrid cloud)
  • key enabling technologies include: (1) fast wide-area networks, (2) powerful, inexpensive server computers, and (3) high-performance virtualization for commodity hardware
Compared to that list of essential characteristics, ITIL practices can be applied

  • in understanding the customer demand for self-service, profiling the IT Service Provider's resources and capabilities to meet that demand, managing the customer & supplier interface
  • in determining the network access policies, procedures, security requirements, contingency planning
  • in managing capacity and availability not just of the technical infrastructure but of all the resources and capabilities of the organization
  • in ensuring changing customer requirements are well managed through responsive change management and deployment
  • in determining and monitoring service levels and performance to those targets

With respect to Service models, ITIL is all about IT Services – understanding all the customer's interests and requirements, and the corresponding capabilities of the IT Service Provider.

Finally, ITIL doesn't speak to enabling technology choices because the IT Service Management thinking isn't altered by the choice of technology.

And all of the ITIL practices apply to whichever side of the Cloud edge one is on – Customer buying Cloud services or Cloud Provider delivering services. We just have to sort out who does what for whom in the steps of each process. Which is pretty darn important in any business deal whatever model one uses.

So if your score was in the 1.69 range, don't despair. Help is available!

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