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5 Reference Architecture “Resolutions” for 2015

Barton KaplanBy Bart Kaplan

Corporate IT departments find themselves in a paradoxical position entering 2015. On one hand, the outlook for IT budgets hasn’t been brighter in a long time. According to advisory firm CEB, IT spend is expected to rise 3.3 percent this year, the most since before The Great Recession.[1]

On the other hand, the expectations of IT organizations have never been greater. Some three-quarters of company initiatives depend on technology to one degree or another. If central IT can’t meet demands for greater speed, agility, and cost-effectiveness, business partners will procure their own solutions, spurred on in part by the falling prices and increasing maturity of cloud and Everything-as-a-Service (XaaS) offerings from third-party vendors. According to Gartner, 35 percent of technology spending is expected to occur outside the central IT organization this year,[2] led by Finance, Human Resources and Marketing departments.

The challenge faced by IT is that in addition to myriad new business projects, they must also attend to legacy technology systems and environments. These uninteresting yet critical “keep the lights on” activities suck up close to 60 percent of IT budgets.[3] That number is coming down, but not fast enough to accommodate for all the technology requests from various parts of the business.

One way IT can square this circle is by making better use of reference architectures (RAs), some of the most scalable and cost-effective tools in the IT toolbox. Among developers, however, RAs don’t have the most stellar reputation. Commonly heard complaints are that they are difficult to understand, hard to adopt, and often out of date.

What exactly are reference architectures? They are much more than pretty pictures. It’s easier to think of RAs as a kind of ecosystem of resources rather than any one thing (see figure below). Their ultimate purpose is to help solution delivery teams make better design and technology choices. At a time of exploding “shadow IT” and changing IT paradigms, the need for effective RAs is more important than ever.

Figure: Reference Architecture Toolkit

reference architecture toolkit
Source: CEB – Enterprise Architecture Leadership Council


If done right, RAs can deliver substantial benefits to both IT and the business. One large financial services organization I worked with saw infrastructure standardization increase from 30 percent to 70 percent, and delivery times decrease by 75 percent, over a two-year period. By some estimates, RAs can reduce IT budgets anywhere from two percent to upwards of 15 percent.

The most mature practitioners take the following five steps to ensure their RAs are successful.

  1. Manage reference architectures across their entire lifecycle. Most of the focus typically falls on the build phase. But the ongoing maintenance of RAs, and eventual decommissioning, are critical to their usefulness, especially in fast-changing areas like mobility and cloud.
  2. Evaluate reference architectures as a portfolio. Many RAs are developed in a reactive, one-off fashion. In order to make the best use of limited resources and maximize benefits, reference architectures should be viewed holistically, using formal criteria to evaluate and prioritize them. Those criteria should be revisited over time, as capabilities grow and business needs evolve.
  3. View reference architectures as brands. To achieve greater RA adoption, it’s essential to consider reference architectures from the customer’s perspective. They should be easy to find, understand, and use―which in most cases they are not. By putting a consumer lens on RAs and viewing them more as individual brands, some of the most common adoption barriers can be avoided.
  4. Include implementation advice. RAs are most frequently owned by enterprise architecture (EA) groups, whose focus tends to be on higher order elements such as principles, standards and patterns. But without decision guides, prototypes and reusable source code―all of which make these higher order resources easier to implement―the chance that RAs get instantiated in actual solutions is low.
  5. Federate RA ownership. One of the reasons why EA groups fail to develop prototypes and provide source code is that their resources are limited. But responsibility for RAs need not―nor should not―reside in EA groups alone. Rather, ownership should be distributed out to subject matter experts across the organization. This will increase buy in, and substantially expand the capacity of the organization to build and maintain a full RA ecosystem.

[2] Gartner, Inc. “Predicts 2014: Application Development.” Brian Prentice, David Mitchell Smith, Andy Kyte, Nathan Wilson, Gordon Van Huizen, and Van L. Baker, November 19, 2013.

[3] Ibid, Footnote #1


Bart Kaplan is a business solution strategist with VMware Accelerate Advisory Services and is based in Maryland.

3 New Year’s Resolutions to Make “IT Relevance” a Reality

Sue Holly-RodwayBy Sue Holly-Rodway

It’s that time again―the dawn of a new year, and its accompanying surge of post-holiday, re-energised intention and commitment to improvement.

My team and I work in the shape-shifting world of technology, helping customers drive business transformation through IT transformation. And that can be challenging simply because today, technology is the business. As Jeff Immelt, CEO of GE Corporation, said, “If you went to bed last night as an industrial company, you’re going to wake up today as a software and analytics company.”

That makes the CIO and IT team central to shaping business strategy, including planning and execution. And of course, you still need to optimise the operation of core systems while reducing operational budgets as well. Based on our experiences over the past year, I wanted to suggest three resolutions to help you meet these goals.

Resolution 1: Put IT in the Driver’s seat

In order to shape successful business transformation, the CIO must be in the driver’s seat. By the end of 2015, act as the “Chief Innovation Officer,” and play a central, creative role in shaping business strategy where technology is the accelerator for growth.

We believe that many businesses still have a long way to go in recognising the central, critical roles of the CIO and IT team in guiding business strategy through expert understanding of how technology can drive growth. So what gets in the way? Often IT is seen by the rest of the organisation as old-fashioned and a roadblock to innovation and agility. All too frequently IT itself is stuck in the mindset that their job is just to keep the systems up and running—and let “the business” worry about the rest. For real transformation to happen, both of those mindsets have to change.

To be in the driver’s seat, the CIO must first be heard in the boardroom, proactively advocating IT-driven business transformation. In addition, the IT organisation needs to change focus from traditional, operational, project-based thinking to innovative, cross-organisational business growth initiatives where technology is central.

In 2015, the transformational CIO will be working to put more focus on innovation. That means sponsoring initiatives that assess the gaps between the current and desired state, and plotting incremental steps toward improvements that don’t disrupt the whole IT organisation. External advisory partners are really helpful in this area, where the challenge isn’t purely the capabilities of the technology, but people and processes as well.

Resolution 2: Drive the journey to the cloud

Nearly every organisation is at some stage of exploring cloud services, especially in terms of enabling innovative new business initiatives to fly―or fail―quickly. Cloud-enabled IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS) should be the natural domain of the CIO and IT, based on their years of experience putting technologies such as security, integration and connectivity at the centre of their strategies. Cloud strategies should be no different.

But this past year, our team has seen multiple examples of organisations lurching toward using so-called “open” or “free” cloud-based services, rather than having a well-thought-out strategy with an execution plan for robust, secure, cloud-based services to support the business as part of a wider technology capability, delivered or brokered through the IT organisation.

As the CIO, make a resolution to create and own the “travel plan” for your organisation’s journey to ITaaS through the cloud. This is a journey that can involve a number of potential potholes along the way – and like all successful journeys, it requires a well-thought-out plan, informed by experience, expertise and appropriate risk management.

An important part of preparing for the journey involves encouraging closer working relationships between the operations and development teams. In a recent VMware Europe CIO event in Barcelona, Spain, IT leaders agreed upon the importance of bringing these teams closer together to build more collaborative ways of working to deliver better outcomes for the business.

Resolution 3: Protect the business with proactive security investments

Today, almost every user in your organisation has one or more mobile devices, which they use—or would like to use—to access business-critical information and applications. The process of closing the gap between IT’s capabilities and end-users’ expectations creates serious cyber security implications that warrant the full attention of the business.

This has typically been regarded as the domain of risk managers, and has not been seen as central to business success. However, the speed of change in technology and the blurring of lines between external and internal IT requires the insight and leadership of the CIO and their technology experts and security teams to address it.

As CIO, resolve to convince the business that cyber security is a business-critical topic and one that merits proactive investment. My team and I have had many conversations on this topic with CIOs and IT leaders in EMEA this year. Elan Yanovsky, ex-CIO of Israel Post, and now part of the EMEA Accelerate Advisory Team, shares this view:

“Though much has been said and written regarding cyber security, this is still the largest threat for the CIO. Many organisations still believe this will only happen to others. Mobile, Cloud and Social push us―IT―toward interesting times but also closer to the hands of evil players. What happened to Sony recently can―and actually does on a daily basis―happen to others.   See this infographic from Business Insider on the world’s biggest data breaches.  The CIO needs to be allowed to invest more on understanding the threats, exposing the vulnerabilities, and preventing the usage of them. The technology capabilities, such a micro-segmentation in the network, which VMware offers through NSX technology, or managing mobile email through Airwatch mobile management technology, are now available. Now it’s not just an option, it is all about survival.”

In Europe, specifically, IDC predicts the passage of recent EU Data Protection Legislation will also require incremental investment in IT governance and security. The CIO has a critical role to play in guiding the business in the best ways to apply the time and money required to complete a full assessment of the organisation’s security vulnerabilities and take action to eradicate them.

These are just three ideas around goals which might help to reinforce your focus for 2015 – and whatever they are, all the best for a successful and exciting year!


Sue Holly-Rodway is VMware’s Senior Director for Advisory and Professional Services Business Development in EMEA. Sue has held this role since January 2014 and is responsible for driving the deployment of the skills and capabilities in VMware’s Advisory and Professional Services teams.

3 Key Trends for 2015: How to Keep Pace with the Rapidly Changing IT Landscape

craig dobsonBy Craig Dobson

So much happened in 2014, and as the New Year begins, I’m looking forward to finding out what 2015 holds—both from a market and an industry perspective. One thing is for certain: the rapid changes we have seen in our industry will continue into the New Year. In fact, the pace of change is likely to accelerate.

I believe the following key trends will be shaping the IT landscape of 2015:

  • Increased application focus
  • Continued movement from CapEx to OpEx models (embracing “x-as-a-Service”)
  • Heightened focus on accurate measurement of the cost-of-IT

Let’s explore these trends in a little more detail.

Application Focus

All throughout 2014 I have been hearing clients say: “it’s all about the application.” In the face of global competition and with the rise of disruptive startups testing the old school business models, the lines of business are seeking innovation, market differentiation, and quick response to changing market dynamics. They are driving IT—and all too frequently looking outside, to cloud-based solutions— to enable quick response to these dynamic changes, often at a lower entry cost.

In 2015, lines of business will prioritize and focus on the business applications that will support the goal of serving, winning, and retaining customers. Application portfolios will change to hybrid architectures that increasingly leverage x-as-a-service models. Supporting platform decisions (such as infrastructure and cloud) will be made based on application decisions. IT professionals will need to stay on top of evolving business applications in order to more effectively support the demands of the lines of business.

Moving from CapEx to OpEx

The appetite to consume anything-as-a-service from external providers has grown throughout 2014, and is now significantly shifting the IT funding model from three- to five-year CapEx investments to OpEx-based consumption models. This shift will accelerate in 2015, and will often be tied to shorter contract periods, with an increased focus on cost and an expectation of a continued improvement on cost-to-serve.

What is driving this change is a general acceptance by mainstream enterprise businesses and different levels of government (through policy changes) that cloud-based services make economic sense, combined with the fact that the business risk of consuming these services has decreased.

Accurate Measurement of the Cost-of-IT

With the shift from CapEx to OpEx models and the focus on the business value of the application lifecycle, the CIO will be under even more pressure to show value back to the lines of business. In 2015, with these new dynamics, and with IT moving to become a full broker of services or portfolio manager (for both internal and external services) delivering x-as-a-service capabilities, this change will demand a greater level of granular and real-time financial reporting at a service level for the consuming lines of business.

This increased financial awareness will provide the ability for IT to show value, offer apples-to-apples comparison between internal IT and external services, as well as comparison between suppliers.

In addition to the cost transparency measures, I believe we will also see an aggressive focus on driving down operational costs to allow the savings to be targeted at next-generation business applications.

Ready for 2015

Let’s face it — change is a given, and 2015 will be no exception for IT. Forward-thinking IT leaders will get ready to deliver applications that meet the dynamic demands of the business; x-as-a-service offerings that meet or exceed end-user requirements; and financial reporting capabilities that not only show end users what they’re paying for but also enable IT to quantify its value.


Craig Dobson is Senior Director of VMware Technical Services for the Asia Pacific region and is based in Sydney.

2014 in Review: Avoiding 3 Potential Potholes on the Road to ITaaS

 

Gene Likins bio portrait pic 2

 

 

By Gene Likins

Focus on outcomes, not technology

As the New Year approaches, I find myself thinking about some of the lessons learned from 2014. Of course, IT executives are perennially interested in lowering costs, increasing security and control, and achieving superior service delivery—and 2014 was no exception.  However, the emergence of public clouds has given “rogue IT” new life and forced IT organizations to think about how to compete.   As a result, IT organizations are revisiting a concept that has been around for several years – Information Technology as a Service (ITaaS) to drive broad, deep IT transformation within their companies.

Urgency is a critical ingredient to change and transformation. Best practices almost always point to executive sponsorship, planning ahead, setting realistic expectations and getting a firm grasp of current state.  But when IT transformations fail or stall, what are some common culprits? Here are three to avoid if ITaaS is on your radar for 2015:

1. Resist the temptation to lead with organizational changes. When we see the potential advantages of ITaaS, many organizations want to move very quickly. Demands for speed and efficiency are driving near-universal experimentation with IT operating models and organizational designs. There are plenty of theoretical, future-state organizational models available from the various research companies.

However, proceed with caution. The CEB published a study around a new model for IT service delivery, which reported that:

  • Nine out of 10 CIOs have recently changed their model or structure or have plans to do so
  • The changes affect all IT sub-functions, with more than 70 percent of EA, infrastructure, security, and PMO groups undergoing or recently completing a redesign

GLikins 1

 

Source: CEB CIO Executive Board: The New Model for IT Service Delivery

That’s why it’s critical to take the time to build a framework around service definitions and establish an operating model for how services will be delivered. For example:

  • How will processes change and how will the operations look on “day two”?
  • Are you embracing a new technology and/or solution only to attempt to retrofit it into your current operational model?

Once you have developed a solid plan for these issues, the organizational structure and the detailed titles, roles, and skill sets will be quite obvious.

2. Reduce friction between service management and infrastructure. More and more frequently we’re seeing a lack of coordination in this regard. For example, does this sound familiar?

The infrastructure group develops a service and publishes it into the service catalogue. The service management team reviews it and determines it doesn’t meet the criteria of a service. Perhaps it’s not customer facing enough. Perhaps it’s not a robust enough service. Either way, it represents wasted time and frustration for both groups.

It’s important to understand what services are going to be offered and what resources are available to support them—and to ensure that all the parties are aligned in support of the service catalog. Service management and infrastructure are both a part of IT, it helps if there is greater communication and collaboration between the two functions.

3. Aggressively market and communicate IT success.  As IT takes a larger responsibility for high-level business outcomes, it’s more important than ever to build a formal IT marketing and communication plan with customized messages to sell BUs and other users on your services.

Alex Salicrup, VMware Transformation Architect, noted in his recent blog on IT Marketing that, “it’s very important that IT staff understand a unified vision/message. They should become active ambassadors of the IT brand and the services the team provides.”

The vision must be both ambitious and “strategically feasible.” Don’t be afraid to act like marketers with videos, go-live parties, prizes for focus groups, etc. It’s better to err on the side of being a little “corny” and gaining awareness rather than quietly being unnoticed.

Stay on the leading edge of ITaaS

As the concept of IT transformation moves beyond the “early adopter” stage and gains traction with a wider cross-section of companies, these red flags and best practices will continue to change and evolve. Stay tuned to this blog to find out what we identify as the year unfolds.

For more insight on the subject right now, refer to these posts:


Gene Likins is the Americas Director for VMware’s Accelerate Advisory Services

The Impact of ITaaS on Request Fulfillment

worthingtonp-crop-150x150

By John Worthington

 Automation and standardization benefits IT…and the business

 

Advances in technology are rapidly enabling new levels of standardization, cost control, pre-authorization and automation far beyond traditional IT environments. This makes it possible to deliver IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS), with IT focusing on the outcomes the business needs and functioning much like a business itself. This is particularly true for change request fulfillment.

To boost efficiency, the request fulfillment function utilizes a library of pre-defined and pre-authorized service requests. This can include change requests that have been adequately standardized, but in traditional approaches, many change requests are too complex and risky to be effectively standardized. In these cases, requests need to be handled via the core change and release process, and manual provisioning to fulfill the request can take weeks.

ITaaS allows provisioning to be designed as a standard change that can be handled as a service request and automated via the service catalog management and request fulfillment process instead of via change and release management. This approach can reduce the time-to-provision to hours or even minutes—without involving IT staff.

ITaaS for request fulfillment is vitally important to the success of your organization

The impact of technology-enabled ITaaS on request fulfillment is broad-based and very significant to both the business and IT. In addition to vastly more efficient provisioning, other benefits include:

  • Automation of end-to-end delivery and management of infrastructure that allows IT staff to be more productive
  • Application deployment and releases that are accelerated
  • The ability to leverage re-usable components and policy-based governance that allows for right-sizing of resources or applications at the appropriate service level
  • The ability to manage multivendor, multi-cloud infrastructure and applications while leveraging existing infrastructure tools and processes flattens the learning curve
  • Reducing time-consuming, manual processes that results in consistent, automated delivery and management of IT services
  • Request fulfillment that can establish a library of request models for all users—both business and IT

While these are usually thought of as ‘IT benefits’ they also drive universal business objectives including faster time-to-market, reduced costs, better service levels, and accelerated innovation.

Benefits also include the impact on related processes such as change, release, incident, and access management. These might be such things as:

  • Reduction in the backlog of change requests
  • Enhanced customer satisfaction, perhaps tied to a specific request model
  • Reduction in the use of unauthorized hardware and software, non-standard and variant builds that increase complexity, support costs and risk to the business services
  • Fewer exceptions reported during configuration audits
  • Fewer incidents caused by request model errors (i.e., incorrect access settings, incorrectly executed fulfillment plan, etc.)

These metrics can be used to compliment base level metrics for request fulfillment depending on the focus of the request models added to the request catalog. As with all metrics, they should be linked to the critical success factors, objectives, and the goals that they support; this can help measure the benefits of improvements to the process.

Planning for success: key terms and roles

A transformation plan is critical as you look to leverage automated, on-demand cloud infrastructures. For example, accelerated ITSM can help bridge the gap between traditional infrastructures and cloud automation by clearly identifying how existing processes, roles, and governance will need to evolve as part of your implementation plan.

As you move forward you will also want to ensure that your team has a solid understanding of basic concepts as well as the increased role that request fulfillment will play in the design stage of the service lifecycle. Taking the time to understand and define some of the terms and roles involved can improve communication and coordination as you consider your ITaaS strategy:

  • The service catalog defines the end-to-end processes and supporting IT services that are available. The service catalog management process must ensure that any links and interfaces between the service catalog and the request catalog are maintained.
  • The request catalog lists available request models that can facilitate self-service for all users—including IT staff. The request fulfillment process must manage the library of request models and must assume ownership of the request catalog.

Request fulfillment and service catalog management

Figure 1. Relationship between request fulfillment and service catalog management

  • In an ITaaS approach, the number and complexity of request models may increase significantly. The request fulfillment manager must optimize the requests associated with IT services, and make them easier for customers to request, and more efficient for IT to fulfill. To that end, the request fulfillment process owner establishes what specifications must be captured for the request model during the design phase.
  • Service owners work with service catalog management to ensure that IT services are well defined, and that standard service requests being fulfilled are associated with the IT service for an easy request process and effective fulfillment. For example, the service owner is accountable for making sure the right subject matter expert is completing the specifications during design.

Ready for a change?

The benefits of an ITaaS approach to request fulfillment are many and far-reaching. But maximizing the benefits requires a studied approach to transformation. Carefully defining IT Services, Standard Service Requests and the supporting processes can help design a catalog architecture that meets your current and evolving requirements.


John Worthington is VMware Transformation Consultant with 30 years experience in the Information Technology industry. John’s been involved in IT Service Management since 2000, is an ITIL® Expert, and holds the PMP and CISA certifications. He is an accredited instructor for all levels of ITIL® certification, as well as a TIPA™ Lead Assessor. 

Living in the Age of the Software-Defined Taxi

Kipp_Bertke Co-authored by: Kipp Bertke and Scott Weinstein

How on-demand service, on time delivery and full cost transparency make Uber customers very happy—and what that means for enterprise IT

If you’ve ever tried to hail a taxi when it’s raining, you know it can be nearly impossible. But Uber—an app-based service that connects users with a taxi, private car or a rideshare in minutes—has leveraged innovations in software and smart phones to ensure that a dry car ride is always just a few clicks away. With just a few taps, Uber has completely disrupted the traditional taxi business in 200 major cities across 45 countries—and they’re just getting started.

Why is the software-defined taxi service so compelling?

The rising popularity and adoption of Uber highlights the fact that customers are turning to software-defined services in droves, and coming to expect the service on-demand model in more and more areas of their lives. And that paradigm is carrying over into enterprise IT departments. How will that affect your IT department? To answer that question, let’s compare the traditional taxi service to the traditional IT department:

Traditional taxi service Traditional IT department
Delivery Time  Unpredictable at best, unavailable at worst. The time for traditional IT to deliver a new service can exceed weeks to months.
Cost Transparency  You get the bill at the end of your ride, and you hope you have enough money. IT spend is hidden in the costs of projects – and emergency funds might be requested mid-project.
Operations  They use an inefficient, outmoded system (hand gestures, telephones and CB radios) to attempt to match taxis to customers. Siloed teams work on core competencies, which can result in disparate views of the health of a service, and no desire to share whatever visibility IT has with others.

As you can see there, are a lot of similarities to the pre-Uber taxi industry and the traditional IT department. Ask yourself this: if you could pick the size and type of car, the exact location where the taxi picks you up, and get complete transparency of the cost to get to your destination, would you ever take a traditional taxi again? Now, ask yourself the same question in the context of IT: if you were working on a project with aggressive timelines and high business value and you could provision your own services—including all security needs—in minutes with just a few clicks of your own mouse, would you ever go back to waiting months trying to get IT to do it for you?

Now, ask yourself the same question in the context of IT: if you were working on a project with aggressive timelines and high business value and you could provision your own services—including all security needs—in minutes with just a few clicks of your own mouse, would you ever go back to waiting months trying to get IT to do it for you?

  Uber Transformed IT
Delivery Time

 

Real-time and adaptive End-to-end services fulfilled in hours
Cost Transparency

 

Cost before commit Reasonable cost estimation and interactive cost modeling and reporting
Operations

 

Customer focused transparency of service availability Single window of a services health and proactive corrective actions

It’s time for a change

Delivering on the growing demand for end-to-end delivery of cataloged services, resources on-demand, and “pay-for-what-you-use” resources  is simply not possible with existing models used in traditional IT environments. If you have an entrenched workflow and no interest in finding a different—better—way to deliver services to your end-users, you just may be replaced by the new guard, one that lives in software, imagines a world without boundaries, and embraces capabilities with no dependency on people, processes or technology. The software-defined enterprise represents a sea change, similar to the one Uber brought down on the traditional taxi industry. Navigating the shift to a service delivery model—based on a software-defined foundation and abstracted from the physical world of traditional IT—calls for a transformation, and not just with technology. The people and processes used to deliver IT services must transform as well. This calls for a total enterprise-wide transformation to deliver IT-as-a-Service (IaaS) for business users.


Kipp Bertke is a Business Solutions Architect for VMware Accelerate Advisory Services.


Scott Weinstein_Profile1 Scott Weinstein is a Senior Systems Engineer at VMware.

IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS): Transforming How We Manage IT

By Reg Lo

Reg LoAs enterprises make their way along the journey to IT-as-a-Service, CIOs and technology leaders must consider an overhaul of how they run IT – from technology enablement, to the operating model itself. A phased approach to technology enablement, designed as a maturity model, helps provide structure to the journey.  Breaking down traditional IT silos leads to a more functional, service-focused operating model.

Based on years of customer experience, we have developed a three-phased path to ITaaS, as seen in Figure 1.  In Phase I, when IT was seen as a cost center, virtualization created dramatic CapEx savings, resulting in more efficient IT production.  In Phase II, automation results in faster business production, and implementing management tools improves quality of service and reliability.  And in Phase III, IT becomes a service broker, reducing OpEx and increasing agility.  In this phase, IT uses an “IT-as-a-Service” approach, focusing on the end-to-end services that support the business mission, and leveraging technologies and sourcing options that make providing those services reliable, agile, flexible and cost-effective.

ITaaS  Journey

Figure 1. Enabling Technologies for IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS)

It makes sense, then, that the transformation into an IT-as-a-Service approach requires more than just the enabling technologies.  IT needs a new operating model to be successful – a new way of thinking and organizing people and process.

Today, many IT organizations are process-oriented.  Their key IT Service Management (ITSM) processes are managed, process owners are identified, and their processes are enabled through an integrated ITSM tool.  But a process-oriented approach hasn’t changed how they think about managing the technology silos.

ITaaS Evolution

Figure 2. The Evolution of how we Manage IT

Mature IT organizations realize that focusing on managing “end-to-end services” helps them be more customer focused than managing discrete “technology silos.”  A service-oriented approach enables IT to link the customer outcome to IT services, to applications, and to the infrastructure.  These organizations are defining their services, publishing their service catalog, and establishing service owners.

Many IT leaders also talk about “running IT like a business.”  This brings a higher level of maturity to IT, with the same fiscal discipline required to manage a traditional business.  This entails economic transparency or even an economic transaction where the business pays IT based on service consumption and IT, in return, commits to delivering a certain service level.  In this model, business relationship managers act much like account managers in a commercial IT service provider, i.e. building a strategic relationship with the business.

This transformation from process-oriented, to service-oriented, to running IT like a business, results in a new, IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS) operating model.  Another way of looking at this transformation is Figure 3.  Note that the progression is not necessarily sequential, e.g. an IT organization may work on elements of becoming service-oriented and running IT like a business simultaneously.

ITaas Operating Model

Figure 3. ITaaS Operating Model

Many individuals might recognize elements of service management in the ITaaS IT operating model.  While the model builds on service management best practices, it emphasizes service characteristics that are associated with cloud-based XaaS services (where XaaS includes Infrastructure as a Service [IaaS], Platform-as-a-Service [Paas], and Software-as-a-Service [SaaS]).  XaaS are characterized by the quality of service being actively managed, services being rapidly provisioned (typically through automation), ability to pay for what you use, elastic capacity, and high availability and resiliency.  While service management encourages these characteristics, achieving these characteristics across all IT services is a goal of ITaaS.


Reg Lo is the Director of the Service Management practice for VMware Accelerate Advisory Services

Building Transparency and Trust with Business Relationship Management

By Jason Stevenson

Jason StevensonIn my last post, I touched on the idea that in the business relationship management process, nothing is more important than good communication. IT representatives must be prepared to both listen deeply and communicate transparently to ensure the relationship stays healthy and achieves business outcomes. Communication provides IT countless opportunities to market how the commitment to an ITaaS approach to service provisioning benefits the business and how it drives business-focused IT decision-making. It’s critical to ensure IT representatives are well trained in all forms of communication.

Transparency and trust through verbal communication
Business relationship management uses verbal communication to build transparency and trust. This includes marketing IT services and innovations, enabling continual service improvement, soliciting translating feedback into action, discussing desirable business outcomes, quantifiable business investment, customer/IT commitment, and risk.

Non-verbal communication such as professionalism and demeanor play a significant part in building transparency and trust. Though IT may choose what level of the business to engage, ultimately it is unable to choose its customers.  However, IT can choose who will represent it. Good IT representation is based not only on understanding of IT organization, processes, and services but also alignment and affinity with the customer.

Transparency and trust through tools using written communication
Business relationship management uses written communications to supplement and reinforce verbal communication. Written communications include presenting reports on successes associated with opportunities or issues and compliments or complaints log as well as dashboards for services (cost, priorities, levels, and satisfaction), projects (time, resource and scope constraints and priorities), high-risk changes, and integrated customer and IT calendar.

Transparency and trust through process
In addition to oral and written communication, another key element in securing transparency and trust is the use of a consistent process. The following illustration provides four simple steps to initiate business relationship management.

4 Steps to Initiate BRM

 

These initial steps include identifying points of contact within the business to populate a customer portfolio, then selecting the appropriate service provider representation from IT to correspond to each customer within the portfolio. The ratio does not need to be a one to one; however, adequate thought must be given to the number of customers an IT representative can handle before quality becomes a concern.

The simple act of communicating between customers and IT representatives will foster transparency with insight into what each organization is doing. As more information (such as plans, dashboards, and calendars) is shared, the organization becomes more transparent. Often, the more frequent the communication between the organizations, the more trust is built, taking care not to become an annoyance to the customer. With some transparency and trust in place, real discussions around what IT currently offers the customer can mature into a greater discussion of how IT can support current and future wants and needs within the business. With this understanding, IT representatives working with their customers can begin to prioritize and categorize customer wants and needs with corresponding IT services or projects based on volume, size, value and risk.


Jason Stevenson is a transformation consultant with VMware Accelerate Advisory Services.

Found in Translation: IT as Interpreter

By David Smith

David SmithThere is a plethora of articles written about the need to transition and transform IT from a technology focused organization into a business driven organization; from running the business to innovating the business; from control to empowerment; from reactionary to proactive, and so on. But, how do we make sure transformation actually happens and ensure that it sticks?

Why we fail
To be clear, IT is an enabling function of the business … not vice versa. With the advent of pervasive internet technologies, cloud computing and public SaaS offerings, lines of business’ now have more choices than ever, either putting pressures on their IT department or purchasing these services directly. That means, as IT, we need to be the best choice for the things we want to control. The number one reason that transformative initiatives fail is lack of user acceptance, meaning somewhere along the way IT misses understanding, setting, or managing expectations (or all three).

More modern organizations work together across silos in IT — but they don’t break the barriers into business. The business works horizontally by nature, and it doesn’t think in bits and bytes. Business users think about getting work done. Knowing this, IT’s answer to “I need email,” can’t be, “We’ll give you some servers with Exchange and small inbox quotas.” It should be, “For how many users, in which locations, from where will you access, will you need to leverage other systems as part of your workflow, etc.” IT then translates these into architectural components and technical solutions.

A tool for success
Use cases (a list of steps defining the interaction of the user with the system to achieve a goal) are a powerful tool to help bridge the gap between business expectations and IT delivery. With a use case, you objectify the discussion and allow the business to clearly articulate what they need, which allows IT to clearly articulate the resulting requirements. IT leverages these use cases to also identify common needs and create reusable platform components. Which in turn helps break down custom-built environments (silos), decreases cost by maximizing IT investments across many lines of business and helps standardize integration points across the architecture. There are several tools and frameworks that help guide the creation of these use cases, but it all starts with a conversation.

Use Case ElementsTake, for example, a company that had embarked on a transformational IT initiative. The pressure from the business to reduce time to provision devices and applications was so great that they decided to begin with end user computing. They needed to get desktops to devices and applications to users, but they had segmented users into 35 or 40 different profiles and device types. Then they swung the pendulum over to other side to offering only three device-based options for desktops, from fully managed to BYOD. Their challenges remained. The missing piece was how to take these three desktops that was an IT centric view to a use-case driven view. What they really needed was alignment with business on five or six use-case driven segments including roles, responsibilities and workflows.

Defining this happy medium allowed the company to tie the user to the HR system. So now when a user joins the organization, the provisioning process is automated. If an employee changes jobs, the process originates in HR as well, with all the IT steps that were formerly manual becoming fully automated. In this case there was a very clear definition of where to put automation. This set the ground for a continual improvement process between IT and business. Instead of meeting once a year, they now meet monthly and with help of the use cases, they align on where to prioritize IT efforts and investments.

What next?
Every organization must find a balance in how deeply and in how much detail they want to take use cases. Try not to go overboard and paralyze your process through analysis. Start with a business function in a line of business to understand your organization’s appetite for change. Any amount of progress toward meeting the needs of the business will facilitate real transformation.


David Smith is a business solutions architect with VMware Accelerate Advisory Services with 17+ years of experience consulting, advising and directing business and IT transformation initiatives for major global organizations. David applies his contemporary business and technical expertise to collaboratively develop, design and implement actionable roadmaps that help customers realize their SDDC and ITaaS strategies. 

Exclusive Report: CIOs on Innovation and the Software Defined Enterprise

By Laurent Finck, VMware Advisory Services Lead, South EMEA

Laurent FinckAs the software defined enterprise becomes an inevitability, rather than a possibility, how can CIOs move their departments from the Industrial Age of IT to the Digital Age of IT?

Report

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In preparation for the upcoming VMware EMEA CIO Summit in October 2014, we spoke to eight CIOs about their top priorities in managing the changing expectations for their role in light of business digitalization. Business digitalization is both an opportunity and a risk for companies – successful digitalization could increase revenue, while failed digitalization could mean a loss of momentum and market share. As a result, CEOs are turning their attention toward IT departments, and the work of the CIO.

Given this increased level of exposure, we asked these CIOs for their perspectives on the highest priority changes that need to occur within IT departments to keep up with the delivery and operational changes required to support business digitalization. They offered their insights on the importance of data management, refreshing IT governance, and adjusting their strategy to pivot toward service brokerage.

The future of IT requires more agility, scalability and service quality. To meet these demands, the CIOs delved into how the software defined enterprise frees up internal resources that once supported infrastructure to refocus on cloud, application and enterprise architecture. Shifts in culture and operations will be required to stay aligned with the needs of the business and the priorities of other departments that will require a high level of responsiveness and flexibility.

Download the full report for more CIO insights into the changing state of IT and the challenges and opportunities ahead.


Laurent Finck leads the VMware Advisory Services team in Southern Europe, a team of strategy consultants who help CIOs and IT organizations understand how VMware solutions can help them better serve their business needs. Prior to VMware, Laurent has been an IT strategy consultant at Accenture and Gartner, where he focused on IT organizations and IT transformation efforts, and then leveraged this experience to design and deploy go-to-market strategies for large IT vendors, on an international basis.