Have you recently become aware that part of your business is working with a third party to fulfill their IT business services without IT even knowing? Have they become mesmerized with the allure of "cloud providers" and their magical offers that you don't need IT? Are they pursuing these providers because they want to access services to rapidly innovate, but find that IT cannot effectively deliver them?
An executive at a financial organization recently told me that one of his company's businesses has abandoned the traditional IT route and embraced the development of new applications that leverage a "platform as a service" capability. The rationale was due to perceived overhead and the consistent use of the word "No" or unreasonable delivery timeframes for solutions that didn't meet expectations. After a short period of going it alone, the business is now partnering with the CIO and IT to innovate rapidly. The requirement was NOT to remove IT, but to accelerate innovation of new products and services where it made business sense. For example my favorite story is of retail bank that is now selling insurance services which are white labeled as the "banks" products but are actually delivered, managed and run by another organization (note to self-read the fine print).
I've been told many times that cloud computing no longer requires service management, but the reality is that service delivery will rarely be in a pure cloud computing environment. Most services will be delivered in a hybrid environment, which will more than likely further complicate the service chain. There are fundamental challenges of ensuring service delivery, whether the solution is on-premise, in the cloud, or is a hybrid. In short, the role of IT is to ensure the delivery of service, delighting customers by exceeding their expectations at an appropriate price.
Organizations that have implemented effective cloud or hybrid cloud models have done so in a manner that allows the consumer of the service to consume the service seamlessly. For instance, if you initially deliver procurement services internally and decide to move to a cloud provider, the users of the service should see no difference before and after the transition. Since IT takes care of all the details in the background, there should be no training requirements and no impact on the user.
The same is true if the user calls the service desk for support. The service desk takes the call, logs the details and then works with the provider to ensure seamless support that focuses on service resumption. In fact, in this new age of service delivery, you would logically provide a social environment where the end users or consumers can leverage the wisdom of the crowd to self-service.
As I have written before, the service desk is transiting from reactive and incident centric to proactive and service centric. This requires a different focus, e.g. knowing how the services are constructed, who is involved in the supply chain, the underpinning contracts, the escalation processes, and the business priorities.
The following guidelines can start you on the path to effectively implementing services in a hybrid cloud-computing environment with effective service operations:
- Establish a single point of contact for the consumers of the cloud computing services (don't make them call one service desk, then another).
- Ensure that responsibilities and relationships between the service desk and the partners who provide the service are documented, contracted, and understood.
- Implement processes and tools with roles defined for the management of service delivery and outage restoration.
- Identify lifecycle ownership stakeholders.
- Establish effective security guidelines to ensure seamless authentication of users of the services across boundaries, based on the user location, device and information.
- Provide self-service capabilities for users in a collaborative environment where they can take advantage of community self-help services.
- Create processes to allocate the responsibility for the escalation and resolution of major service outages, including the formation of a joint workforce if required.
- Implement standard request fulfillment processes that are documented and automated (including responsibilities and accountabilities).
- Build automated authentication processes with automated addition and removal of users.
- Undertake security penetration testing regularly.
- Develop automated management processes to recognize, register, and initiate appropriate actions when required.
- Establish effective supplier management processes that include regular reviews and identify alternative service suppliers, if necessary.
This list is not exhaustive but gives you a good reference point as you commence your cloud journey.