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Taming the Hydra: IT in a Multi-Cloud World

Kevin Lees

Photo Credit: iStock/ZU_09

Photo Credit: iStock/ZU_09

By: Kevin Lees

I know it’s hard to believe, but VMworld is upon us again. Where did the last year go? I know many of you were busy implementing, updating, extending, and managing your private cloud environment. Perhaps you’re busy implementing and getting comfortable working with NSX; busy realizing the great benefits software defined networking and security brings you as an IT service provider to you line of business customers. Regardless, I’m sure you’re busy making your customers happy with the standardized and customer-driven IT services you’re providing.

So, you’re getting comfortable in your private cloud world – but not too comfortable I hope, as a recent VMware study (VMware Customer Advocacy study”, Q1 2016) shows that 48% of enterprise applications will be cloud based within 3 years. Ok, that doesn’t sound too bad. That is until you see another statistic that says 65% of enterprises will use more than one public and/or private cloud platform and for 67%, and that:

For 67% of enterprises the ideal end state includes relying on multiple cloud platforms.

Relying on multiple clouds, really?

So how are you going to deal with that? How are you going to bring order to potentially multi-cloud chaos? It’s hard enough to get a handle on the workloads your enterprise developers are placing in one public cloud, how bad is it going to get? Well, if you start planning for multi-cloud now, it may not have to be bad at all. In fact, with proper planning, you can drive a good degree of control – without all of those pesky developers even knowing the difference.

If I’ve piqued your interest – or perhaps triggered the onset of a slight panic attack, please stop by my session, SDDC8994: Taming the Hydra: IT in a Multi-Cloud World, next Monday at 3:30 at VMworld 2016, and I’ll fill you VMworldin on some concrete steps you can start taking now to avoid the chaos as well as how the looming multi-cloud world might impact your IT role. I hope to see you there.

Download a full agenda of VMworld breakout sessions that will help IT leaders build a strategy for the digital era.

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Kevin Lees is Principal Architect for VMware’s global Operations Transformation practice and is based in Colorado.

3 Steps to Create an Automation Roadmap

Ahmed_croppedAutomation RoadmapBy Ahmed Al-Buheissi

Automation is at the heart of any cloud implementation.  It provides fast provisioning, resource monitoring and self-healing, capacity adjustment, and automated billing.  Also, automation will ensure consistency, prevent errors and free-up valuable staff time to work in more innovative projects.

But in order to embrace automation, the organization needs a roadmap. This roadmap needs to be based on an understanding of the current state of the organization, in terms of technology, people and process. You must also examine where the organization will want to be in terms of automation and define “to be” state. The roadmap creation process will determine what tools, skills and services are required to achieve the automation target, and then schedule these improvements to achieve the requirements.

With a comprehensive roadmap, the organization can be well-prepared for the journey, in terms or time, budget and resources.

Three Steps to Create an Automation Roadmap

There are three recommended steps to take in order to create the Automation Roadmap:

  1. Assess Your Current State: Using industry best-practices, you need to start off by assessing the organization’s current state in terms of:
    1. Technology
      What technology is available and fully adopted, in areas such as virtualization, self-service, automation and orchestration? Even DevOps-related tools should be assessed.
    2. Process
      Are related process and policies documented and implemented? For example, Service Definition, Request Fulfilment and Release Management.
    3. People
      Specific skills and roles are necessary for running an automation-oriented infrastructure. Some of these roles include Service Architect and Infrastructure Developer, which need to be documented, formalized and assigned.
    4. Interactions
      Ensure that proper interaction procedures are in place, such as interactions between groups, to the business, and to service providers.
  2. Get Your Priorities Right: You need to identify potential processes for automation, in areas such as IaaS, PaaS, Proactive Operations and capacity Monitoring. Once these opportunities are identified, they need to be evaluated and prioritized in terms of process, impact and readiness.
  3. Put it all on the Map: Now that we know where we are and what we need, we can put it all on a time-line chart. When creating the roadmap some consideration needs to be given to the length of time for the roadmap, as well as time and order required for implementing tools and processes.

If you want to learn more about establishing your Automation Roadmap, please join my Quick Talk at VMworld in Las Vegas:

VMworldAugust 28th 2016 –  1pm
“Service Automation Roadmap: Approach and Samples”
Add session SDDC7876 via the VMworld Schedule Builder

Download a full agenda of VMworld breakout sessions that will help IT leaders build a strategy for the digital era.

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Ahmed Al-Buheissi is a Senior Solutions Architect with the VMware Operations Transformation global practice and is based in Melbourne, Australia.

How NOT to Fail at Process Automation and Continual Improvement

Chris KunselmanProcess Automation and Continual Improvementby Chris Kunselman

A big part of my job at VMware is to help customers transform to an SDDC environment. For VMware Operations Transformation Services, that means understanding the business reasons behind their strategy for an SDDC and Private Cloud, and then defining the roadmap to achieving this strategy.  The transformation is the journey along the way.  Typically, this means significant changes to an organization’s culture, paradigms, skills, technology and operational processes.

Usually our customers already have some level of IT Service Management (ITSM) maturity around operations.  They also usually have highly qualified talent who understand the management of technology.  However, what they sometimes lack is the mindset, skills, and experience necessary to effectively scale a privately operated cloud.  To do this, they need to focus on end-to-end process automation through a rigorous approach to continual improvement.

Without an approach to automation, companies will not be able to scale their operations, retire their legacy environments, and realize the full business value from their investment in VMware technology.  Hear more about this at my VMworld 2016 breakout session, “Tips for Realizing the Full Value of Your SDDC Transformation” (add SDDC7692 to your agenda).

Continual improvement and process automation go hand-in-hand if an organization truly intends to operate their cloud as a business, and gain the benefits from the use of vRealize Automation (vRA), vRealize Orchestration (vRO), and vRealize Operations (vROps).  VMware solutions bring a new potential for an organization to finally achieve the highest level of process maturity.  Automation and continual improvement should be a component of every private cloud operations team.

The Importance of Continual Process Improvement

Imagine that you currently have six globally located private cloud data centers, and four thousand application workloads already migrated to your private cloud.  Not only that, but you are continuing to migrate an average of 400 legacy workloads per month into your SDDC.  That means in one year, the number of your workloads will have more than doubled!

In my experience working with customers, most of them don’t plan to manage their IT services in the same way and with the same number of resources as they manage their legacy environment.  They don’t plan to double their team size as their SDDC grows, but this is a very likely scenario.

Virtualizing your infrastructure creates more demand from the business, for even faster delivery of the same legacy services.  Merely moving your legacy environment to your new virtual private cloud does not give you the full payback you would expect, unless you also have a strategy for continual improvement and automation.  A vast amount of operational cost can be saved if you automate.  However, to achieve this, your continual improvement team should have a good mix of business process re-engineering, systems integration, and development skills

VMware’s Approach to Automating Processes and Establishing Continual Improvement

Say, for example, the request for increasing capacity occurs very frequently in your environment.  Let’s say it takes your team members eight hours to provision 20 of these requests in vRA.  The reasons it takes so long may vary, but it usually boils down to regulatory controls, change control approvals, documentation, and many tedious steps in various systems, performed by different teams.

You start with automating this process so that it takes just a button push to approve it and the rest happens automatically through vRO orchestration, and vRA to provision the request.  After taking out most of the manual tasks in this process, your same resource could provision 20 of these requests in an hour, becoming eight times as productive.  This is the type of scenario you want to tackle on a continual basis.

VMware operations transformation consultants use an incremental approach with customers that works well within agile IT environments.  We work with your business process team to identify these opportunities, prioritize them, and drive them to completion through a series of development sprints.  This requires a strong collaboration between IT business process experts, your ITSM systems and your VMware automation/development team.

Customers often miss crucial aspects of continual improvement, leading us at VMware to create a practical and comprehensive step-by-step approach to follow continual improvement practices by automating end-to-end IT processes.  By following this approach, customers can derive measurable value from their private cloud transformation by increasing the quality of service delivery, removing unnecessary labor, and human intervention

Deep Dive Analysis

We begin with a deep dive analysis of the particular processes we aim to automate.  We look at all types of changes that exist to identify changes that are executed frequently, performed with consistency and require many steps and approvals, then determine which of these can be automated.  We establish a backlog of these automation opportunities.

It is important to note that due to regulatory concerns, it is not possible to automate the provisioning steps of every type of change, especially major changes.  Typically, the list of potential automation opportunities is made up of standard change types that do not require approval.

Because we want to automate the end-to-end IT process, it is important to look at every segment of the manual process.  Some process segments will require forms and data capture, or integration that populates form data and automatically passes this data into vRO, and/or vRA.  Other processes may require approval steps.  This type of end-to-end automation involves integration between multiple systems, such as request ticketing, change ticketing, and VMware vRA, vRO systems for provisioning and orchestration.  We look at the business processes, business and compliancy requirements, as we engineer the automation to ensure we automate the right activities.

Calculate Expected Business Value

Next, we calculate the expected business value to be gained from the automation of each change type that we have identified as an automation candidate. This is a cost analysis of the duration, time, and number of people it currently takes perform each step in the process.  From this information, we can determine the “time-cost” of the entire process.  Once we have an idea of the time cost of every process in the backlog, we can determine which automation opportunities will drive the most benefit.  We rank and prioritize these opportunities based on how much value they will bring to the overall virtualization business case.

Develop a “To-Be” Design for Each Process

Starting at the top of the priority list, we write flow diagrams for how the process will work in an automated fashion.  The workflow diagrams include the user to user, user to system, and system to system interactions and use cases.  From these diagrams, we define functional requirements, inputs, outputs, triggers, roles and responsibilities.  Most importantly, during this step, we establish reasonable metrics for measuring the outcome of the effort.

Validation & Implementation

We then hand-off the functional automation requirements to the automation development team.  This team analyzes the functional requirements, and then creates a technical design.  During the design stage, the technical design team comes back to the business process automation engineer who validates whether or not the technical design meets the functional requirements.  This ensures that the goals for time-cost reduction will be met.

Very often, the development team cannot fit all the required functionality into the first release of this process automation.  So we also must prioritize the technical requirements associated with each automation opportunity, placing them into various releases.

By the time the final release is implemented, the full end-to-end automation exists and we are able to measure the business value metrics that we set out to achieve.  The customer begins capturing performance information on the automated process to determine if the automated effort is consistently saving the time cost it is intended to save.

Keys to Success

Following this methodology ensures that our customers get the benefits they were looking for, maximizing cost savings and optimizing operational efficiency.  By effectively prioritizing your process automations, we ensure the ongoing success of your continual improvement program.  We analyze the functional requirements of each end-to-end process first, ensure that we evaluate improvements to the process before automation, and make sure improvements align to existing policies and regulatory requirements.  It doesn’t make sense to automate a bad process.

Tight integration between your business process and your technical development teams is also key to success.  In some situations, a technical team will attempt automation on its own, often with little understanding of the full end-to-end process.  When that happens, their effort may not focus on achieving a clear business objective. By not evaluating the full end-to-end process, their attempt of automating only parts of a process, will not reduce the cost of labor effectively

By formalizing automation efforts as part of a continual improvement program, customers can achieve these improvements incrementally, over time, and within their normal operational budget.  But most importantly, they gain increasing value from the investment in VMware technology.  With our continual improvement approach, one successful automation project creates a “quick win scenario” that sets you up to tackle all the others that follow, with a focus on achieving and measuring specific business outcomes.

If you are interested in creating a plan for process automation and continuous improvement, reach out to your local VMware representative and my team would be happy to help.

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Chris Kunselman is a Senior Transformation Consultant with VMware Operations Transformation Services and is based in Pennsylvania.  ckunselman@vmware.com

A Day in the Life of a Cloud Service Owner

Pierre Moncassin-cropCloud Service OwnerBy Pierre Moncassin

Customers often tell me, “I totally get the principles behind the role of Cloud Service Owner – but can you describe what do they actually do throughout their work day?”

Let me start with a caveat: we are all aware that in a knowledge economy few roles have the luxury (or burden, depending on the point of view) of a completely predictable, set routine.  We are in an era where many traditional, factory assembly line jobs have been re-designed to become more agile and less repetitive, at least in some leading-edge companies.  The rationale being that job rotation and innovation if not creativity, leads to higher productivity. Less routine, more output.

What is a Cloud Service Owner?

When I say Cloud Service Owner (CSO), I am referring specifically to the Service Owner role described in the VMware white paper: Organizing for the Cloud.

A CSO is a relatively senior role that includes responsibility for the end-to-end life-cycle of cloud services, with numerous levels of interaction with the business and cloud team members. So I will endeavor to highlight some typical aspects of a ‘day in the life’ of that role – bearing in mind all the caveat above.

Cloud Service Owner

The Cloud Service Owner ensures a consistent, end-to-end Service Lifecycle

Cloud Service Owner Stakeholders and Interactions

The CSO interacts with a number of key stakeholders, first of all within the business lines. When a new service is requested, the CSO reviews the requirements with the Business stakeholders; which may include not only the definition and costing of the service but also a discussion of how quickly it can be placed into production.

In a DevOps environment, that interaction with the business lines will still take place, with the difference that business and application development may be a single team (the business stakeholder may be an application product owner). When the (DevOps) business proposes to launch a new product (i.e. cloud based application or application features), they may need to discuss with the Service Owner how to develop the continuous delivery automation to support that new product.

The CSO will also interact with the members of the cloud operations team, for example with the Cloud Service Architect who will assist in all aspects of the design of the automation workflows and blueprints underlying the services.

Interactions will also include working with other support groups such as the Service Desk – for example, to review incidents relating to the services and work out patterns or root causes; possibly involve the Service Analyst to improve the monitoring and risk management underpinning these services.

Of course the list does not end there. The CSO may also interact with third party providers (especially in a hybrid cloud or multi-cloud model), as well as contractors. If the cloud platform is part of an outsourcing arrangement, the CSO will likely have a counterpart within the outsourcer.

Key Processes for a Cloud Service Owner

From a process perspective, our CSO will be involved in all aspects of the service life-cycle – this is by definition of the broad remit of the role. But I can highlight some key ‘moments’ in that life-cycle.

  • Initial definition of the service in cooperation with the business stakeholders.
    This is a critical stage whether both the scope of the service is defined, but also the expected costs and service levels.
  • Monitoring the performance of the service.
    In traditional IT, the review of SLA performance with business takes a key role once a service is up and running. In a cloud environment, much of SLA monitoring may be automated, however SLA review is still an important role for the CSO.
  • Continuous Improvement and ultimately, de-commissioning of the service.
    It is expected that the service will evolve and that ultimately it will be de-commissioned (possibly freeing some capability). This is also an activity that needs close cooperation with business lines.

Toolsets for a Cloud Service Owner

I mentioned at the outset that the CSO is not necessarily expected to a toolset expert.  However, in order to fully leverage the capabilities of a cloud platform, the CSO will be able to leverage the key cloud management tools, specifically:

  • vRealize Automation – the CSO will have a solid understanding of how blueprints are designed and where/when existing blueprints can be re-used to create new (or amend existing) services.
  • vRealize Business – understand the costing models and how they can be built into the tool to automate charging/billing.
  • vRealize Operations – leverage the tool to track service performance, and generally managing service ‘health’ and capacity.
  • NSX – the CSO is less likely to interact with this tool on a daily basis, but will benefit from a solid understanding the capability of this tool to help design the automation workflows and to plan the security controls that may be required when deploying the services (e.g. leveraging micro-segmentation).

The list is not exhaustive. Many organizations are considering, or already working towards DevOps adoption, and in those cases the CSO will benefit from a broad grasp of industry tools whether related to continuous delivery (think Jenkins, Codestream, Puppet, Ansible), or specifically to Cloud-Native Applications (think Docker,  VMware’s Photon OS).

Take Aways:

  • For roles such as Cloud Service Owner, design activities should take precedence over fire-fighting. These roles will prefer an engineering approach to problems (fix a problem once).
  • Do not expect a rigid work-day pattern – the Cloud Service Owner is a senior role and will need to liaise with a range of stakeholders, and interact directly and indirectly with several tools and processes.
  • The Cloud Service Owner will maintain a healthy understanding of toolsets; and leverage that knowledge daily to design, manage and occasionally de-commission services. This is an aspect of the role that may be significantly different from more traditional Service Manager roles.
  • However, the Cloud Service Owner is not meant to be a toolset specialist. If they spend their entire day immersed in toolsets, it is a sign that the role is not fully developed!
  • The Cloud Service Owner will work in increasingly close cooperation with the business lines– not from silo to silo but through an increasingly permeable boundary.

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Pierre Moncassin is an operations architect with the VMware Operations Transformation global practice and is based in the UK.

Mind the Gap: Breaking Down Silos

Part 1:  Getting Started.

Kevin LeessilosBy Kevin Lees

For IT to truly transform into an effective, business-focused service provider it has to do more than implement an enabling technology like software defined data center, though that’s certainly a great start. In fact, according to the recently published State of IT Transformation analysis done by EMC and VMware, 95% of participants believe having an IT organization that has no silos and works together to deliver business-focused services at the lowest cost is critical.  Yet, not astonishingly based on experience, less than 4% reported they currently operate like this. That’s quite a gap!

According to the same analysis, operating without silos was one of the top 10 goals in all but one of the industries represented in the study (17 of 18 industries) and was in the top 11 for all industries. Thankfully, while there is a significant gap between desire and current state, IT operating without silos is top of mind and viewed as critical to success regardless of industry. So how do you navigate this gap? Where do you start? How do you proceed without causing an anxiety attack or worse, intransigence, within IT? In this two part blog, we’ll walk through some critical steps we use for closing this gap.

Step 1:  Secure an Executive Sponsor

First and foremost you have to realize and acknowledge that the biggest challenges you will face in breaking down silos are cultural and in all likelihood political challenges. That has been my experience and that of my colleagues when working with companies to break down their IT silos. And of the two, the political challenge can be the harder to overcome.  Which brings us to the first step in closing the gap: getting executive sponsorship and not just any executive sponsorship, you need proactive executive sponsorship.

You need an enthusiastic, proactive executive sponsor for this kind of change.  Indeed, that’s your number one goal – to have an executive involved who completely embraces this idea and the change it requires, and who’s committed to proactively supporting you.  He or she is critical to success in many ways, not the least of which in overcoming the cultural and political challenges. To overcome these challenges the executive sponsor has to have the enthusiastic support of those in the management chain of the organization in which the silos exist.

But how to you generate the enthusiasm when we know how resistant some people are to change, especially change that might affect their span of control?

Step 2:  Sell the Change

Work with the executive sponsor to craft a communication plan aimed at both the management chain and the organization as a whole. When building the communication plan, you would ideally derive the intent for the change from a strategy and roadmap focused on transforming IT into a service provider to the business that has both executive and business support. If not, developing that IT transformation strategy and roadmap becomes step one!

The communication plan should focus on why you’re making the change, why it is critical for the business, and what value embracing it has for the affected IT managers and employees– what they stand to gain as individuals.  And individuals do stand to gain, for example through recognition, increased visibility, opportunity to participate in something truly innovative, obtaining new skills that are highly valued in both the company and the industry, and new career opportunities. The goal is to make participating in the change aspirational. But enthusiasm only goes so far. You also have to provide them a safe way to modify their behaviour – as well as provide a little extra nudge to those in management who are still a bit reluctant to change.

Step 3:  Modify Behavior

Modifying behaviour is a key step but one that is overlooked more often than not. This involves modifying annual performance review criteria, and bonus critera if applicable, to reflect the desired outcome.  If this is not done individuals will default to their incentivized behaviour when prioritization decisions need to be made – or, for a few, as an excuse for not fully embracing the change.  Modifying this criteria is absolutely critical for the management chain in order to help address the political challenge. It’s also important for members of the silos whose walls are to be torn down, as we’ll see in the final step.

Step 4:  Break the Silos

I say the “final step” but that’s a bit of a misnomer, as the final step can take some time and consists of many activities as it is the actual breaking down of the silos. In part two of this blog I will focus on the approach we have found to be successful when undertaking this type of organizational change.

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Kevin Lees is Principal Architect for VMware’s global Operations Transformation Practice and is based in Colorado.

 

It’s All in the Context: Practical Advice for Using IT Benchmarking

Ton van TubergenBy Ton van Tubergen

IT BenchmarkingIn my role as an Operations Transformation Architect, I have been involved in many large and small IT Transformations, addressing people, process, technology, governance and organizational aspects and their dependencies.

As a responsible IT leader, managing uncertainty and risks will be an important part of steering the organization through a transformation. So, they are often asked:

  1. How are we doing compared to others? (Slow/fast)
  2. Are we doing the right things? (Did we bet on the right horse?)
  3. Which step first? (We know we have a lot to do, but where do we start?)
  4. What are lessons learnt from others? (Give us best practices so we do not make the same mistakes.)

One source to get answers and grow confidence is benchmark reports, allowing you to do a quick comparison with your own organisation. Reading benchmark reports is not always an easy job, and often disappointing.

Getting the most out of benchmarking

There are many advantages to benchmarking:

  1. It can trigger and energize the improvement (transformation) of the organization and its services
  2. It provides new insights
  3. It provides early warnings about where an organisation is performing and where it is lacking behind
  4. It can motivate all stakeholders before and after a transformation (when good new scores are available)

But before you start reading benchmark reports, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What does our organisation want to achieve? Do we have the same (business) objectives and priorities as our peers in the benchmark?  Do we want to be the same as our peers/competitors?
  2. Are we level hunting, or are we focusing on our own business success?
  3. Are the measurements comparable and are the scores relevant for what we want to achieve? What is the quality of the data?
  4. Is there an explanation for different scores?
  5. Are best practices described in such a way that we can re-use them?

The State of IT Transformation Report

Having this framework in mind, let us now have a look into “The State of IT Transformation” recently published by VMware and EMC, a benchmark and analysis about the State of IT Transformation, and talk about how your organization can effectively use this data to further your owns goals.

Sample 1: Cloud Infrastructure – Hybrid Cloud Architecture

Hybrid Cloud ArchitectureThe report states that “most companies are not where they want to be in having a well-engineered hybrid cloud architecture,” and the infographic shows us 2 groups: Overall (N=660, so pretty relevant for you!) and Top 20% performers.

So, you are probably not alone, but how can you accelerate, and relatedly, what slowed you down? There could be a variety of answers (lack of capacity, expertise, sponsorship, acceptance, complexity too high), but even more interesting, what re-usable accelerators did the top performers use?

Sample 2 – Virtualization (%)

VirtualizationThis info graphic shows level of Virtualization in different categories. Progress is compared to 2 years ago (see info graphic in full report).

What you can learn here is that many peers follow a shared pattern: first compute (most virtualized), then storage and application, network and desktop (less virtualized). That’s interesting information, but to identify if they apply to you ask yourself:

  • What is our business-case for virtualization?
  • Based on that business-case, is it wise to virtualize everything (including legacy) to 100%?

Sample 3 – Operating Model

StrategyHere we find big gaps between what peers want and what they currently have.

In our experience, many organizations are struggling with this.  It can sometimes be difficult to answer the questions, “What should my end-state look like and how do I get there?”

What is important to remember is that you should not think about transformation as going from one static state to another, but develop your organization in an agile never ending change, responding to changes in business needs and technology opportunities during the journey.

Practical advice for leveraging benchmarks

The first step is to trace and understand the best practices in the benchmark, and why they worked well in these organizations. But that does not mean that all best practices are transportable. That’s like a heart-surgeon saying, “Every excellent beating heart can be transplanted to any patient”.

Even if best practices are available and credible (no coincidence), they still need an expert judgment to decide what and how to re-use them effectively.

What’s in it for you? A lot, keeping in mind the advantages I discussed before, but you need to invest in understanding the background of the research and how it could apply to you.  It can be extremely valuable to talk to those who participated or the experts in a similar workshop.

It’s important to get outside help with this process.  Someone impartial with expertise in this area can advise you on what is working, what could be done better, what is coming up next and how they’ve seen other organisations overcome similar challenges to yours.  To leverage our experience, contact your local VMware representative to engage with VMware Advisory and Operations Transformation services (OTS).

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Ton van Tubergen is a VMware Operations Transformation Architect and is based in the Netherlands. 

Surviving Change: 12 Organisation Transformation Principles to Help You Cope

Craig SavageBy Craig Savage:

Change Organisation TransformationIn my role as an Operations Transformation Architect, I get the privilege of working with many different organisations in many different markets and geographies, and as our team are closely knit, we share a lot of knowledge and experience amongst ourselves and globally after each engagement we undertake. What follows are some of the key principles that we believe can and should be applied across all the large IT organisation transformation projects we see.

  1. Understand that transformation is EXPENSIVE – in terms of time, money and emotional energy.
    1. Time – any cultural change will take time, traditions need to be re-made, new balance created (many times) and new roles will take time to settle.
    2. Money – your people will need to gain new skills and competencies; you will also need to reflect on your compensation model.
    3. Emotional energy – Some people thrive on change, others find it very hard work so being aware of how the process is affecting your people and making sure you keep everyone is engaged is crucial.
  2. Realize that every transformation journey is different – there is no “one size fits all” as every company has a different culture and a different diversity in their people, as well as a uniquely evolved process framework to take into account. That said, there are a lot of common elements, that if treated similarly to architectural building blocks, can be re-used
  3. Culture change must be a primary priority and must be led top down. Realistically assess your current culture before beginning – decide what to keep, what needs to be transformed and what will have to be scrapped. Get outside help!
  4. There is a great deal of value in structuring the programme effectively – it really needs to be about constant, small and iterative changes that drive towards a larger goal. One huge project with fixed milestones generally runs into issues, whereas a programme with a clearly defined end state, with multiple smaller, short projects or a more Agile-esk sprint structure will deliver earlier realised outcomes at lower cost.
  5. You will need to change the way you recognise and reward your people – people management and the skills of acquiring and retaining the right people will become increasingly valuable. Keep the management structure focused on performance, development and reward management, managers should be mentors and coaches. Doing this allows for people to hold different roles in different teams without the artificial tribal boundaries that tend to arise in the older models.
  6. Be transparent about the changes taking place – people will be uncertain anyway, and we have seen countless times how destructive rumours can be, whereas every time we have seen openness and clear communication we have seen a far easier transformation journey. Be mindful that local laws, unions, etc. can often inhibit this, so sometimes you will need to be creative in order to keep your people informed and engaged without exposing your company to additional risk.
  7. You will likely need to increase headcount while you transform, unless your current team are grossly under utilised or your current process model is very inefficient. Get help understanding when and how to flex your teams.
  8. Encourage innovation, value it highly and find ways to make it valuable to yourself and your teams. Encourage people to hold multiple roles, increasing the skills and capability diversity and capacity across your team.
  9. Identify and work with your resistance fighters – they may have a valid concern and they definitely have passion, find a way to make them part of the change.
  10. This may sound terribly obvious – keep your current environment running! Alienating your business by delivering bad (or worse) service now will not help.
  11. Understand you are no longer the sole provider of IT for your organisation, no matter how much may seem to be true, your business will already be taking some IT services from other providers. Work towards becoming the broker of these services and being your organisation’s preferred IT provider.
  12. Technology can only effectively transform an operation when the people that operate it and the processes that they carry out are able to take full advantage of that technology. In our experience, implementing technology and expecting the people and process change to take place organically fails almost every time.

With your people heading in the direction of the new and clearly defined way of working, and your processes being re-written and optimised to deliver on that new vision, your organisation will have started off well.

It’s important to get outside help with this process.  This major change requires someone impartial with the skills and experience to advise you on what is working, what could be done better, what is coming up next and to give you ways they’ve seen other organisations overcome those new challenges.  To leverage our experience, contact your local VMware representative to engage with VMware Advisory and Operations Transformation services.

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Craig Savage is a VMware Operations Transformation Architect and is based in the UK. You can follow @craig_savage on Twitter.

IT Service Strategy: Catalogs and Portals

Insight from the EMC and VMware 2016 State of IT Transformation Report

self-service portalGuest Blogger:
Denise Partlow, Director, Product Marketing Cloud Professional Services, EMC Corporation

IT organizations are experiencing a cultural revolution. CIOs want to run IT like a customer-focused business. They want to empower users with self-service and enable them to make value-based consumption decisions. This means packaging IT services for easy consumption by the business, providing financial transparency through unit-based pricing and billing, and developing processes, roles, and skills to successfully manage the supply and demand side of the portfolio.

As I mentioned in my last blog, EMC and VMware have been doing workshops on IT transformation with our customers for several years now. We recently analyzed the data collected during these workshops. The top gap, identified by all organizations, is their ability to provide and efficiently manage user requests through a service catalog and self-service portal. 80% plan to have a self-service portal and service catalog in place by the 2016-2017 timeframe.

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EMC, VMware Release ‘State of IT Transformation’ Report

The ‘State of IT Transformation’ report takes a look at more than 660 EMC and VMware enterprise customers across 18 industries, and identifies gaps, progress and goals in their current IT Transformation initiatives.

By focusing on data provided by CIOs and their direct reports who participated in a transformation workshop led by EMC or VMware, this analysis provides deep insight into the biggest goals and challenges for organizations who are actually in the midst of an IT transformation.

The full State of IT Transformation Report (PDF) can be downloaded here.

Where do Organizations Want to Improve Most in 2016?

State of IT TransformationCloud Infrastructure

While more than 90% of organizations are only in the early stages of evaluating a well-engineered hybrid cloud architecture, and 91% of organizations have no organized, consistent means of evaluating workloads for hybrid cloud, 70% want to standardize on a hybrid cloud architecture across the organization within the next two years.

Operating Model

Running IT like a customer-focused business is a high priority for IT organizations, but 88% of companies have not begun, or are only in the preliminary stages of developing skills in business-facing service definition, and only 24% have a well developed service catalog in place.

Organizations recognize that collaboration is key to meeting customer expectations, with 95% of organizations expressing that having no silos and working together to deliver business-focused services at the lowest cost this is critical.  However, less than 4% of organizations reported that they currently operate like this.

Agility is also critical to success.  For over half of the participants it currently takes between a week and a month to provision infrastructure resources.  The goal this year for 77% of participants is to be able to do this in less than a day, or dynamically when needed.

Applications

Accelerating application development is a high priority for CIOs this year.  68% of the organizations surveyd take 6-12 months to complete a new development cycle.  This is likely due to the fact that 82% of the companies currently don’t have a scalable, infrastructure-independent application delivery framework on which to rapidly and consistently build mobile-friendly, cloud-native apps.

How does your organization stack up?

Are you curious about how the results changed by industry, or by geography?  Read the full State of IT Transformation Report to see how your organization compares to your peers.

If you need assistance identifying the gaps in your own organization, and developing a comprehensive strategy and roadmap for moving forward, contact your VMware Advisory Services strategist or your local VMware representative today.

Cloud Services Definition

Part 3 of the Cloud Business Management Series

By Khalid Hakim, Kai Holthaus and Bill Irvine

Services DefinitionIn our last cloud operations business transformation blog, we talked about the cloud business strategy and its importance in formulating the vision and the plan as to how you want to run your cloud as a business. In today’s blog, the focus begins to shift to executing the strategy and laying out the foundations of a service-oriented and business-driven “operating model”.

There is a saying: you can’t manage what you can’t control, and you can’t control what you can’t define.  Imagine that you are planning to open a new business. The first step is to define what services/products you want to offer your consumers and what distinguishes your market value among the others. Similarly, cloud business management starts at this point. IT should identify and define what cloud services would be offered to its consumers in order to truly drive a services-oriented and value-driven organization.

Key Areas of Services Definition

VMware recommends a unique approach for defining cloud services, through which a service owner defines a 360-degree view of how the cloud services would be established, managed and delivered effectively and efficiently to meet or exceed the expected value. To paint this panoramic view, cloud service owners should consider the following areas:

  • Service Overview – describe the service in terms of its purpose, goals, consumers, criticality, availability criteria and rhythm of business.
  • Virtual Service Team – organize your team members around the services you deliver. Team up as a virtual service team.
  • Services Definition ChartService Chart – map out the end-to-end cloud service in a graphical representation that is easy to consume. The service chart helps to visually understand the core components of a service and contributes when costing services.
  • Service Portfolio and Consumer Management – the service portfolio answers the questions, who are our customers and why should they buy the service from us. It contains all of the service categories and the business units that consume them and aids with making informed “service” and “business” based investment decisions.
  • Service Design and Development – provide high level information about how the services will be designed and developed, especially if the service isn’t yet in production. This helps with understanding the customer business need and developing the most valuable solution possible.
  • Service Catalog Management – identify service catalog structure parameters and possible blueprints. Also, define what columns or key fields should be included in service catalog entries.
  • Service Level Management – define key SLA/OLA targets to ensure provisioning time and quality meets specific business needs.
  • Service Desk Management – describe how the service will be supported. Draft a plan for service-desk requirements, skills needed and required knowledge transfer.
  • Proactive Operations Management – define the service operation requirements for support and reliability from the event and performance monitoring to availability, demand, capacity, continuity and security management.
  • Provisioning and Change Management – define the service provisioning lifecycle and associated change management policies including how the service will be pre-approved and auto-provisioned (for maximum efficiency). New leaner change management workflow needs to defined / refined (i.e. standard changes).
  • Service Financial Management – define the service cost and charge back/ show back model along with pricing and connections to the service catalog.
  • Service Performance and KPIs – define any applicable service related strategic, tactical and operational performance indicators (KPIs), and the metrics that will be collected to demonstrate that required performance was achieved. Also define how and when the KPIs and metrics will be reported, and to whom.
  • Service Reviews – define service-based review meetings to discuss and remediate any operational or consumer related topics. Follow a standard cadence for all services. Discuss potential changes in demand for services. Capture new or enhanced service requirements.
  • Service Marketing – define the key applicable service marketing elements for a successful service promotion and value realization within different company cultures.

Now, how long do you think this exercise will take? In most of our engagements, defining a service takes between 1 to 2 weeks. It is never intended to fully document all the areas above immediately, or establish all of the processes, as many organizations don’t have this all of this information available. Think of the Service Definition as a living and breathing document. The service owner should establish a working draft, develop it to the point of release and then maintain in for its life as an active service offering. All undefined services are treated as areas for improvement.

In our next blog, we will take this to the next level as we learn to establish a cloud service-based cost model and cost out cloud services end-to-end.  This will enable you to understand the cost of a unit of a cloud and provide the required level of cost transparency internally and to consumers.

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Khalid Hakim is an IT Business/Financial Management Lead with the VMware Operations Transformation global practice. You can follow him on Twitter @KhalidHakim47.

Kai Holthaus is a Sr. Transformation Consultant with VMware Operations Transformation Services and is based in Oregon.

Bill Irvine is a Principal Strategist with VMware Accelerate Advisory Services and is based in Colorado.