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The Secret to Avoiding the Portfolio Management Bottleneck: Simplicity

By: David Crane  

Delivering a set of standardized infrastructure services is a critical dependency as IT becomes more service oriented. Getting application owners who are used to custom infrastructure to agree to only use standard service configurations may be the defining problem of the cloud era.

The lifecycle of defining new service elements, adding them to the service portfolio, then formally releasing them for use by adding to service catalog is the very heart of the problem when getting multiple developers and application owners to agree to use standard services.

The process is critical.  And the process must be streamlined and oriented to the needs of users and funders of the service, and not the internal machinations of the IT organization.

However, traditional ITSM Service Portfolio Management is a cumbersome process geared to the needs of the IT organization.  IT includes numerous points of IT management sign-off, and the process is not optimized for actually developing and releasing new services into use.  The traditional approach tends to be heavy on oversight, and light on actually doing work. This approach reduces agility and wastes scarce resources. Not good in an era where increased agility and reduced operating costs are key measures of success.

Things are different within a virtual cloud ecosystem like VMware’s vCloud Automation Center (vCAC). With vCloud Automation Center, authorized users can access standardized services through a secure self-service portal, as vCAC acts as a service governor to help enforce business and IT policies throughout the service lifecycle. In this environment, a radically simplified design lets IT service managers focus their energy on the needs of users and funders and helps them get their work done with minimal internal IT process overhead and friction.

vCAC simplifies portfolio management in two main ways:

  • Policy-based service definition – Through vCloud Automation Center, users can request and manage their compute resources within established operational policies – cutting IT service delivery times. Users can build specifications into vCAC that contain the automation policies that specify the inputs needed and actions required to maintain your portfolio.
  • Improved service transition – Moving a new service out of the portfolio and into the catalog where it can be used requires keeping the portfolio and catalog elements up-to-date and aligned with each other. With vCAC, release and ongoing management functions are built into the tool set, and thus both automated and massively simplified.

One way to think of what’s changed here is in terms of oversight versus enablement. Traditional ITSM can be geared as much as 80% towards oversight, with just a 20% focus on the people who actually go and do the work. The vCAC approach flips that around.

Oversight is still essential, and it’s built in to the new model.  Prior to vCAC, traditional ITSM involved significant initial investment, top heavy input requirements, with repetitive multiple touch points to senior management., vCAC presents fewer, better-designed gates to your workflow, so you can work both safely and fast while gaining the agility that comes with a true cloud environment.

It’s About Standardization

The key to giving cloud consumers the services they want as quickly as possible, while still keeping the necessary corporate controls in place, is standardization.

Under vCAC’s blueprint model, service elements (e.g. backup, capacity, and provisioning requirements, security and other policies etc.) are preapproved to sit in the catalog and are thus ready to be deployed in new ways whenever they’re needed. In other words, if an item is in the catalog, and you have authority to access it, then you can provision at will – without having to go up the chain of command every time you want to respond to customer demand.

The result:

  • Fast efficiency processes focused on quickly and efficiently delivering new services to users, so that users don’t feed the internal IT machine.
  • Simplified processes with policy-based service definition capability and improved service transition, business agility and time to market.
  • Automated interfaces between the service portfolio and service catalog, with minimal resources and overhead required.

And you do it with higher quality, and at scale. With a set of preapproved blueprints and policies, it’s much easier to address increases in either the volume or variety of demand that you want to meet, and do it in a way that is more deterministic and improves service quality over time.

What’s more, you’ve done all that while reducing your company’s overhead and the resources you need to draw on.

With the help of vCAC, your portfolio management is simpler, more agile, more efficient and faster-to-market, too.

This is the first in a series of posts we’ll be writing about service portfolio management in a vCloud ecosystem. Next up, we’ll go deeper in to the simplified, three-step process of vCloud portfolio management.

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