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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

Download the full report

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.

Take Good Care of My Business (Using ITaaS BRM Best Practices)

By Jason Stevenson

Jason Stevenson“We be takin’ care of business–every day–every way!”1 At least that’s what we choose to believe in IT. Unfortunately, the reality is often far from it. The business would likely sing a much different tune — something closer to “It’s the work that we avoid. We’re all self-employed. We love to work at nothing all day.” 1 It sounds harsh, but more often than not, IT does avoid the real work of business, acting as an entity in and of itself, accountable to no one, focusing on putting out fires.

Now more than ever, the business has real choices in information technology. An internal IT department is no longer the only show in town and must provide measurable business value to compete with external solutions, particularly innovative solutions such as Software (SaaS), Infrastructure (IaaS), and Platform as a Service (PaaS).  IT must meet the business needs without clinging to old ways, regardless of whether that means developing solutions in-house, brokering services from appropriate providers or a combination.   Regardless of the solution, IT’s focus must be squarely on making business success easy, so positioning the IT organization as using an Information Technology as a Service (ITaaS) approach is paramount.  The foundation of this business-centric, service-based approach is business relationship management (BRM).

Who is the customer?

IT provides services to both customers and users. A customer is someone who pays for the service, while a user receives the service. In many instances, the customer and user are not the same. Service desk functions and processes like request fulfillment and incident management focus on the user. In contrast, business relationship management focuses on the customer. Often there are multiple customers in an organization including officers, executives, directors and their delegates.

What is business relationship management? 

The purpose of business relationship management is to establish and maintain a strategic connection between the service customer (business leadership) and the service provider (IT representative). Process activities include:

  • Communicating: Sharing ideas and information and coordinating communication channels between the customer (business) and service provider (IT).
  • Understanding: IT comprehending what is important to business; business realizing IT capabilities, value, and implications of changing technology.
  • Matching: Correlating business wants and needs to IT services within the portfolio to set clear expectations.
  • Navigating: Guiding business through IT organization and engagement of the project portfolio.
  • Prioritizing: Ranking IT services and projects and mediating competition for resources.
  • Tracking: Documenting customer opportunities, issues, compliments and complaints and translating desired business outcomes into service packages or solution roadmaps.
  • Escalating: Taking corrective action as needed.
  • Assessing: Continually soliciting customer satisfaction.

When and where do we engage the customer in business relationship management?

Often the means we use to facilitate business relationship management will change, depending on the participants and the length and quality of the relationship. Technically savvy customers may prefer to use a service web portal, while senior executives and officers may prefer the informality of golf or other social activities. A large organization may require a symposium to accommodate many (potentially geographically dispersed) customers. The approach and frequency should align with customers’ positions within the organization, their personalities, and what works culturally and historically within the organization. At a minimum, IT representatives should engage customers in a conference quarterly unless specified otherwise by the customer.

How do we provide business relationship management?

Transparency and trust directly relate to our human nature and are only accomplished through good old-fashioned communication. Both verbal and written communication create opportunities for IT to market how its commitment to an ITaaS approach to service provisioning benefits the business and how it drives business-focused IT decision-making. Stay tuned for an upcoming post with tips for building transparency and trust in your organization.

BRM: The Foundation

In summary, business relationship management is the foundation for ITaaS. Think of business relationship management first as a guide and translator then as a partner for the business. By balancing wants and needs with funding, we gain understanding of the business and translate that understanding into traceable business outcomes. Through integration with service and project portfolio management, IT representatives submit business outcomes in service packages to IT through an ITaaS services web portal after using multiple communication means with the customer. Now, the inner workings of IT are engaged to evaluate business value and risk and subsequently refine priority, which is then confirmed with the customer. Ongoing communication and reporting continually reinforce the relationship between the customer and IT, resulting in greater transparency and trust.

The following diagram illustrates the summary of these concepts.

BRM Governance Model

There you have it, critical success factors for ITaaS BRM. Give it a try! “Chances are you’ll go far if you get in with the right bunch of fellows.” 1


Jason Stevenson is a Transformation Consultant with VMware Accelerate Advisory Services.


© ITIL is a registered trademark of AXELOS Limited.
1 Quote from Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s Takin’ Care Of Business

Is Corporate IT Doomed to Bankruptcy?

By Kipp Bertke, Strategist, VMware Accelerate Services

Kipp_BertkeCorporate IT departments have been the best kept business secret in history. Evolution for IT has been a constant since the beginning, and IT departments have been the masters of their destiny. Who else has a captive customer base, a cost plus business model and a reward for slow and steady? If an IT department were a startup company, and you had invested in it from the start, the market capitalization would have been through the roof…until now.

A look back at history brings us to the defining moment facing today’s IT.

The First Disruptor
Most IT departments started with a mainframe and added a midrange due to the costs and complexity of the mainframe. The first disruptor of IT came on the scene in the early 80’s: the personal computer (PC). At first it was just a fad; it was fun and cool and any average person could do really neat things with it. (Yes, and there were the geeks, too, who did geeky things with it.) But IT departments had nothing to worry about, right? After all, they were in control of the real computers in the company.

But then something amazingly crazy happened. Accounting started using the personal computer for working on simple spreadsheets. They didn’t have to rely on IT and its inflexible systems. Over the next two decades the personal computer quickly spread throughout the business world and IT departments had a new technology to manage, like it or not.

New Layers of Technology
In the midst of the personal computer invading IT, another disruptive technology emerged: the x86 server. It was cheap, flexible and didn’t fall under the control of traditional IT departments. But for all the good it did, the x86 added yet another layer of technology for IT departments to support. This is the start of the ‘silo’-ing of technology and the people and processes that are the ecosystems around it, which largely still exists today.

With the x86 server came additional disruptors: the evolution of client-server and multi-tiered architectures. These, along with the multiple changes in form factors of x86 servers, impacted the ecosystem and significantly increased its complexity. It was the start of the x86 sever sprawl. Despite all the predictions of these architectures replacing the “old” mainframe/midrange computers, it never happened. And the silos grew deeper and wider, as did the complexity of managing, operating and budgeting.

The Internet Layer
Then there was the Internet. Not an IT disruptor at first. It was more of a social disruptor; innovating they way people shared information and communicated. Again, IT departments had nothing to worry about as long as they secured the connections.

This is where it gets good.

Power to the People
With smartphones and tablets, people started to bring their personal devices into work. At the same time, the Internet was taking a leap forward in evolution with software ‘as a service’ offerings. Again, IT departments largely saw these events as just another fad that they wouldn’t have to deal with, not a disruptor. There was no way they were going to let a personal device get on their network.

This is the dawn of the cloud and mobile era, which is liberating IT’s customers with flexibility, elasticity, accessibility and cost transparency.

The cloud and mobile era is a disruptor, but is a different from those of the past. It is not just another technology to adapt, integrate and support; it is a paradigm shift. It’s radically impacting the business of IT and forever changing the landscape of those who deliver and consume it. With infrastructure offered ‘as a service’ and the advent of the cloud, the bubble burst for IT.

A New Dawn…
History is rich with businesses that were once wildly successful, but due to a lack of innovation, lost their way and their customers. And those that didn’t heed the signs went bankrupt or out of business. There are also success stories of businesses avoiding or coming out of bankruptcy leaner and more competitive than ever.

If IT can adjust to the paradigm shift, knowing that its customers are empowered, emboldened, and liberated with cloud (XaaS) and mobile, they can avoid the painful process of bankruptcy. One of the keys to success in this new paradigm is IT acting as a broker of a portfolio of capabilities and services and being held accountable over a competitive landscape. Accomplishing these shifts will finally result in that ever elusive alliance between corporate IT and the businesses it serves — ensuring the health of IT for decades to come.


Kipp Bertke is an Architect and Strategist with VMware Accelerate Advisory Services and has over 25 years of professional IT and leadership experience. His passion is helping organizations develop actionable and prescriptive IT strategies and roadmaps, closely aligning them to their organization’s business strategy and mission for a measurable business outcome. He leads teams through strategic development engagements with VMware’s Enterprise clients.

How to Keep Your IT Strategy from Becoming Shelfware

By Barton Kaplan

Barton KaplanWe’re living in tumultuous times. That sounds like a cliché, but a cursory glance at the most recent headlines and earnings news bears it out.

Technologically, we’ve moved from the mainframe, to the client-server, and now to the mobile-cloud era, with tremendous implications for both the sellers and consumers of enterprise technologies. Recent geopolitical events have shaken long-held assumptions and created new uncertainties.

Together, this combination of forces has made the work of an already beleaguered group within IT – strategic planners – even tougher. And it’s not as if things were going swimmingly prior to this latest wave of change. When advisory company CEB surveyed business partners about IT strategic planning, a meager 23% agreed that it was effective.[1]

But as tempting as it might be to fire your IT strategist and declare planning dead, 93% of those very same business partners also said they thought IT strategic planning was important.

Which begs the question: In a time of unprecedented change, how do you keep your strategy from becoming shelfware?

Leading organizations I’ve worked with employ the following three best practices to ensure their IT strategies stay relevant:

  1. Embed scenarios into strategy. It’s standard practice to align IT initiatives to business goals and objectives. In today’s environment, however, it isn’t enough to align to a single outcome. An automotive company I worked with looks instead at a range of possible outcomes, listing best case, worst case, and most likely scenarios. Each scenario is then heatmapped against the current IT portfolio to understand the potential impact. As a result of this exercise, project cycle times were reduced by up to three months.
  2. Define strategic triggers. To increase the agility of its strategy, a financial services company began to include possible economic, business, and IT events (e.g., an acquisition, a new product launch, etc.) that would require revisions to its roadmap. They go so far as to list specific actions that need to be taken should any particular event actually come to pass.
  3. Make it a living document. Strategic plans are especially vulnerable to quickly falling out of date and losing their currency. Too many organizations place a lot of emphasis on and resources behind the creation of a strategy, but don’t adequately think through how that strategy will be maintained and refreshed going forward. Effective strategies require ongoing care and feeding, which only happens when owners are named and responsibilities clearly spelled out.

In times of constant, radical change, maintaining both focus and flexibility will ensure your strategy stays relevant.


[1] “Flexible Strategic Planning,” CIO Leadership Council Webinar, June 2014.


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