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IT’s Case for Service Catalogs: Why do you need one?

by Les Viszlai

I’m surprised by how often I come across IT organizations that still aren’t fully persuaded of the value of using service catalogs. There is a lot of conversation around the value to the Business but I would like to jump in and outline the advantages of service catalogs from an IT Organization’s perspective.

First and foremost, service catalogs defend IT spending and budgets.

Without a service catalog, IT owns the generic technology line items that keep other parts of the business running. It’s not unusual for the software, hardware, and external IT services used by finance, marketing, sales and everyone else to get lumped together and tracked within IT’s budget. This bundling makes the IT Department’s spend look like a massive cost center compared to other departments within the business.  This then suggests that IT is overspending and ripe for an across-the-board cuts.

Under the generic model, finance teams looking to cut business costs by a target amount across the board start with IT.   To add insult to injury, I have found that IT departments are normally understaffed compared to other departments within the business and often underpaid based on industry benchmarks.

Moving to a full services catalog model changes that game. A successful service catalog defines all of the various offerings individually provided by IT to the business and aligns the software, hardware, and external IT services components needed to provide each of these offerings.  The services catalog should also clearly communicate the costs and service-level agreements associated with each service, giving IT the ability to show-back or charge-back the other departments.  This isn’t as monolithic a task as it may sound.

How does a service catalog make life better for IT?

Service CatalogLet me give you an example of how this changes behavior.   A company I was involved with in the past was running a number of different CRM products as a result of company acquisitions over time.  We kicked off a project that justifies the consolidation of the various CRM tools for both cost and efficiency (see my blog on ROI for tips on building such a business case).

Consolidation projects usually transition various users off of the legacy CRM tool onto the new consolidated centralized tool. Inadvertently a core group of users (usually tied to the original acquisition) resist the migration for some good and some bad reasons.  The net result is that our IT team is stuck supporting two tools.  The difference now with a defined Service Catalog is that IT can clearly charge the hold outs for both CRM product services. The corporate sanctioned CRM tool and the legacy CRM tool can be clearly tied to the holdout business unit.   In addition, IT is now in a position to defend the costs related to this and any additional Service Catalog items now tied to the end user or department that uses the service.

Now, let’s fast forward to budget time.  The CFO asks IT to reduce costs by 15%. Where before the dialog might be framed around reducing head count on the networking team, it can now be about which services in the service catalog the company wants to go without.

From a purely selfish point of view, that insulates IT from demands that are all-but impossible to satisfy. It gives the organization the ability to clearly signal when proposed cuts will damage the business. Additionally, the business also benefits, because they have now a less opaque window into their IT spending and its impact on, and interconnection with, their business functions.

Benefits for both IT and the Business

When we look at the broader case for service catalogs from the business perspective, that interconnection goes deeper.

On-Demand Access and Reliability

Service catalogs, of course, allow us to move to a model where end users click on a service they need and then just click once more whenever they need it again. Even at the end of the quarter, or when there’s some looming deadline, those end users always have the extra resources they need available without having to wait. So they’re gaining reliability, especially during times when IT resources traditionally got bottlenecked.

Speed

This model also opens the window for IT to add additional automation to any service. Say your SLA for providing an FTP-based service for file uploads and downloads is three days. With automation in place, you may be able to speed that up to hours, if not minutes. What’s more, you can offer this service as soon as the initial automation is complete and then keep fine tuning it by adding new tools, capabilities, and resources as they’re developed.

Efficiency

Standardizing clients, logging, auditing, and security, and adding system-relevant restrictions based on user profiles, restricts on-demand access so you only get service requests from people with a valid reason to ask for them. This saves IT money and time.

More Growth Potential

That automation and simplification story hints at the other major win for IT here. With a much more streamlined process enabled by its service catalog, IT has more resources available to manage growth more efficiently than it would have been able to under the old model.

Improving Business and IT Alignment

At the core, what both IT and the business are gaining when they adopt a service catalog is better alignment to needs.

When you have a common language and supporting data to communicate with the business the conversations around budgets fundamentally change.  Whereas before IT might have just presented a shopping list for approval, they can now say to the business, for example: “We’re creating ten times more FTP sites than we anticipated and they have to stay around three times longer. We’re out of storage, though. So, we need storage for the FTP site service.”

Similarly, the business can explain to IT that it needs IT’s four day process for creating an FTP site to be reduced to four hours. And because IT thinks in terms of services, it can easily budget out the resources it will take to make that happen.

Both conversations are now about the substance of the services that IT offers. Framed that way, they’re likely to be much more productive for each side – helping IT make good decisions about where to place its resources and allowing the business to understand how they can positively impact the services they are getting from IT.

Breaking Down Silos

When IT sets out to deliver a new service, like the simple FTP examples above, it’s very likely to involve people from a number of areas – in this case, networking, storage, and servers. In the past, everything and everyone was siloed. The network guy would work on the job then hand it over the hill to the server gal, who would hand it over the hill to the storage guy. With the new model, that behavior is broken down, because the network, storage, and server people are collaborating and sharing IP, all aligned to this one service, not their own specific technology silo.

Furthermore, by moving to a services model, IT is now aligning those various siloed resources in a way that enables knowledge transfer and increases overall efficiency and speed of delivery, and very likely lowers costs too.

Overall, the services model offers a route for IT to give business what it needs, but on terms that don’t compromise performance. Supported by the productive dialogue with IT that the model enables, the business can stay agile and scale up to meet demand, all while getting the most bang from its IT buck. That leads to growth, which IT, under this model, will be ready to support. Which of course is a good thing for everyone.

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Les Viszlai is a strategist with VMware Advisory Services and is based in Atlanta.

Quantifying the Business Impact of IT Agility

Harris_SeanBusiness ImpactBy Sean Harris

Let’s examine a story I see often in my work with customers as part of the VMware Advisory Services team.  The names and details have been changed to protect the innocent.

Jessica, the new Head of IT Service Delivery at ABC Banking Corp, was frustrated with being told that the cost of delivery of IT was too expensive. She wanted to show that had she massively reduced the cost of IT delivery with the new private cloud that her team had delivered.  Not only that, but the elastic demand and agility of the service had generated so much value to the business, in terms of revenue and market share, that the business should be investing considerably more in this solution going forward than they had done to date.

She worked with VMware’s Advisory Services to build a model that showed the true value of the private cloud solution in terms of time to market, market share (as a result of being earlier to market) and revenues over a 3-year period.

They first built a model that looked at supply and demand and showed the impact of shortage of supply on the loss of customers to competing services (so reducing demand and market penetration).  Once they understood the organisation’s ability to service demand they were able to estimate the revenue impact from lost customers, using the metric for average revenue per customer.

The Assumptions

The model did not consider the application development time of the service. It was assumed that this has already been done.  There is another value model that can be built to show the benefits of time to market through agile and cloud native application development vs traditional application development approaches, but that was out of scope for this exercise.

For a traditional service delivery model, it was assumed that capacity would be built linearly over time.  You need a certain capacity before the capability is available and/or there is a marketing decision made to delay the launch (availability) of a service (to prevent customer dissatisfaction due to disappointment when the service is actually not yet fully available).

For the cloud (public, private or hybrid) service it was assumed that the capability can be delivered from day one.  The agile elastic capacity of the private cloud infrastructure means the service receives the infrastructure capacity that it needs on demand.

The final key assumption was that they existed in a competitive market place and so there were other equivalent competitive services available to consumers. This means that if demand out strips supply and some consumers are unable to get the service when they want it a percentage will go to a competitive service and never return.

The Results

Business ImpactArmed with this model, Jessica could show her leadership team that with a traditional service delivery approach they were unable to deliver the service from day one, resulting in demand outstripping supply.  This would have resulted in a loss of final market share of 10 points (down from 40% to 30%) and a loss of 3 year service revenues of around 25%.

By switching to a private cloud delivery model, that allowed supply to match demand from day one, they would not lose out on revenue to their competitors.  Not only that, but she proved that a private cloud significantly reduced the TCO (total  cost of ownership) of infrastructure delivery at ABC Banking Corp. and that while some competing public cloud solutions were comparable in price, they were not fully compliant with (sometimes unique) security and audit requirements of the business and external regulators.

The lines of business and marketing were now able to clearly see the value to the business of the new private cloud infrastructure service and quickly approved additional investment in current private cloud.  They added private cloud services as well as directed a multiple new projects to target Jessica’s private cloud platform.

What can we learn from this story?

Providing on-demand infrastructure absolutely increases the agility of the business, and that agility has far reaching benefits throughout the organization, particularly for the bottom line.  A well-researched business case has proven to be the linchpin of success for many of the transformation initiatives, making it easy for the business to see the massive return on investment they will realize through shifting to a private cloud delivery model.

Like Jessica, many IT leaders have limited or no direct experience of creating business cases that go beyond IT costs and into revenue, market share or margin impacts to the business itself  If that’s the case for you, contact your VMware representative take advantage of the deep expertise of VMware Advisory Services.

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Sean Harris is a Business Solutions Strategist in EMEA based out of the United Kingdom.

VMware Honored for Professional Services Innovation and Excellence by the Technology Services Industry Association

Technology Services Industry Association AwardThe Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA) announced the 2016 STAR Award winners at the Technology Services World Conference held in Las Vegas. VMware Professional Services was named the 2016 STAR Award winner for Innovation in Enabling Customer Outcomes.

“VMware is thrilled to be recognized for the progressive advancement of our Professional Services business,” said Bret Connor, Vice President of Professional Services at VMware. “This award reflects our commitment to enabling customers to realize differentiated business value and drive accelerated IT transformation through the adoption and deployment of VMware’s technology vision.”

VMware’s global Professional Services organization has long played an important role in enabling customer successes. Over the past five years, as VMware has evolved from a single product company to a multi-product solutions provider, the maturation, innovation and transformation of its professional services business has driven new and higher levels of business success and customer satisfaction.

According to TSIA, “Many Professional Services organizations are doing some of these things, but very few are doing all of them. The business and customer impacts have been substantial…” The transformative approach to customer success has resulted in a tripling of VMware’s Professional Services NPS score and a 50% decrease in project escalations in the Americas.

Read the full article on the VMware Radius Blog.

Today @ VMworld – Two Can’t Miss Customer Stories

VMworldVMworld is here!  The packed schedule today starts with our CEO, Pat Gelsinger, who will present  the general session, “Competitive Advantage in the Multi-Cloud Era – Connecting People, Apps & Data to Propel your Business Forward”.  

If you are still working out what breakout sessions to attend this afternoon, you shouldn’t miss these two sessions from VMware customers who are going through their own multi-cloud transformation and have built out strategies to transform their organization for the digital era.

American Tire Distributors:  Our Journey to a Modern Private Cloud

Monday, August 30th, 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM
As an organization experiencing rapid growth, American Tire Distributors (ATD) recognized the need to modernize their infrastructure platform to support the changing needs of their business.

Starting with a holistic assessment of their IT organization across people, process and technology, ATD worked with VMware to create an actionable and collaborative roadmap for the modernization of their private cloud.

Join ATD’s VP of IT Operations, Ravi Ramaraj, as he shares his experiences and practical advice across:

  • Value found in starting with an actionable assessment
  • Establishing a strategy and plan for SDDC transformation
  • Modernizing their data center
  • Adopting a service oriented IT model with defined services, automation and security

Add session SDDC8930 to your agenda.

Sun Trust’s Cloud Journey:  IaaS, PaaS and Beyond

Monday, August 30th, 3:30 PM – 4:30 PM
How can a Southern Bank compete with Wall Street? They need to be fast, agile, and drive a culture of innovation and change.

SunTrust has built an environment that will create immense value to its customers by delivering on a vision of a stable and efficient cloud that enables its development team to build world-class applications.

Listen to Bryan Clements, Senior Vice President of Sun Trust, discuss how he has created an internal focus on innovation and testing new ideas to help their customers.  Bryan will discuss:

  1. His vision of the multi-year transformation journey that he is enabling and how the new wave of applications are creating opportunities for his business.
  2. The operational efficiencies needed to build their forward compatible cloud, and the value of the developer-focused model.
  3. How a DevOps model is influencing the culture changes needed to drive this type of platform.

Add session SDDC8975 to your agenda.

DevOps Sessions at VMworld 2016

DevOps VMworld 2016Join Our DevOps Experts at VMworld 2016 for Real-World Advice and Customer Stories to Improve the Agility and Velocity of Application Delivery

Increasing the speed, quality and reliability of application delivery is, or should be, on the agenda of every IT organization this year.  To help our customers build a strategy for this evolution, a DevOps track has been added to the VMworld agenda for 2016 featuring sessions spanning a wide range of topics related to transforming your application delivery process.

Download this handy guide to DevOps Sessions at VMworld 2016 to take with you next week, or use the links below to add these sessions to your agenda via the VMworld Schedule Builder.

Sun, Aug 28th 1:00 PM CNA7813-QT Architecting Cloud-Native Systems with Photon and Pivotal Cloud Foundry
Sun, Aug 28th 2:00 PM SDDC7881-QT Cloud Service Lifecycle in a DevOps-Focused Delivery Model
Mon, Aug 29th 11:00 AM MGT8766 How IT Can Enable DevOps and Development Teams to Rapidly Deliver and Iterate Robust Applications in a Multicloud Environment including VMware, AWS, Azure and Softlayer
Mon, Aug 29th 1:00 PM DEVOP7788 Industry Perspective: Enterprise Reality of Doing DevOps
Tues, Aug 30th 11:30 AM DEVOP7730 DevOps Bootcamp
Tues, Aug 30th 11:30 AM DEVOP9965 Implementing DevOps with VMware vRealize and Cisco UCS
Tues, Aug 30th 12:00 PM ELW-1730-USE-1 vSphere Integrated Containers Workshop
Tues, Aug 30th 12:30 PM INF8092 The Power Hour: Deep Dive, DevOps, and New Features of PowerCLI
Tues, Aug 30th 2:00 PM DEVOP7859 Real-World DevOps Customer Panel
Tues, Aug 30th 3:30 PM MG77652 OpenStack in the Real World: VMware Integrated OpenStack Customer Panel
Tues, Aug 30th 4:00 PM DEVOP8971 Run a Hybrid Application Across VMware and Google Cloud Platform
Tues, Aug 30st 5:30 PM CNA8145 From Today to ”CNA”: VMware Technologies and DevOps Frameworks as a Service
Wed, Aug 31st 8:00 AM DEVOP8924 Building an Actionable Strategy Around DevOps and Platform as a Service (PaaS)
Wed, Aug 31st 10:50 AM STP9983 How enterprise IT is evolving their Infrastructure to support DevOps and new application architectures like Containerization and Microservices
Wed, Aug 31st 11:30 AM MGT8499 Moving to Infrastructure as Code: How Fannie Mae Is Managing the SDDC with the vRCS Management Pack (aka Project Houdini)
Wed, Aug 31st 12:30 PM DEVOP9093 Unpanel: How I Survived the DevOps Transition
Wed, Aug 31st 2:30 PM MGT8969 Forrester Research POV on DevOps, Automation, and Virtualization Maturity Trends
Wed, Aug 31st 4:00 PM MGT7751 A Technical Deep Dive into VMware Integrated OpenStack
Thurs, Sept 1st 10:00 AM DEVOP7915 Network as Code: DevOps Implications of Programmable Infrastructure
Thurs, Sept 1st 12:30 PM MGT8763 3 Best Practices for IT to Enable Developers to Deploy on Amazon and Azure While Ensuring Security and Accountability
All Days All Times SPL-1721-USE-4 vRealize Automation for DevOps Hands on Lab
All Days All Times SPL-1706-SDC-2 DevOps-Ready IT with vRealize Code Stream Hands on Lab
All Days All Times SPL-1730-USE-1 vSphere Integrated Containers from A to Z Hands on Lab

VMworld 2016: IT Strategy Sessions

VMworld

Download a PDF Guide

At VMworld 2016, IT leaders will join their peers to learn about strategies for meeting the growing requirements of their businesses in the digital era.

In addition to the valuable networking and thought-provoking conversations that happen at VMworld, you can take advantage of a full slate of breakout sessions. These sessions can help you build a comprehensive IT strategy and roadmap for digital transformation.

Add these sessions to your agenda

 

Monday, August 29

11:00 AM SDDC7616 Strategizing Cloud Business Management Using vRealize Business
11:30 AM EUC7870 VMware’s Solution Strategy on Mobility’s Evolution to Internet of Things into 2016 and Beyond
2:00 PM SDDC8930 American Tire Distributors: Our Journey to a Modern Private Cloud
3:30 PM SDDC8975 IaaS, PaaS and Beyond – SunTrust’s Cloud Journey
3:30 PM SDDC8994 Taming the Hydra: IT in a Multi-Cloud World
5:00 PM SDDC8214 Case Study: VMware’s Private Cloud Journey to Over 100K Virtual Machines

Tuesday, August 30

11:00 AM SEC8730 NSX Security and Micro-Segmentation Customer Panel
1:00 PM CTO9036 Providing Management Tools for the Emerging IoT Infrastructure
2:00 PM SDDC8357 If They Come, Are You Ready? Strategic Demand Management for Cloud Services
2:30 PM DEVOP7859 Real-World DevOps Customer Panel
5:30 PM CNA8145 From Today to “CNA”: VMware Technologies and DevOps Frameworks as a Service

Wednesday, August 31

8:00 AM DEVOP8924 Building an Actionable Strategy Around DevOps and Platform as a Service (PaaS)
10:00 AM MGT8884 Our SDDC Journey: See How SDDC Transformed IT in Just 12 Months and Changed How We Think About “Automation” at Johnson & Johnson IT
11:30 AM SDDC7692 Tips for Realizing the Full Value of Your SDDC Transformation
12:30 PM DEVOP9093 Unpanel: How I Survived the DevOps Transition
2:00 PM MGT8969 Forrester Research POV on DevOps, Automation, and Virtualization Maturity Trends
3:30 PM SDDC9971 Experience the Business Impact of IT Innovation and Transformation in This Live Interactive Simulation
4:00 PM SDDC7886 Implementing an Operating Model for Agility: A Customer Success Story

 

Wed @ VMworld – 2 Wildly Different Ways to Discuss Next Gen IT Strategy

Reg LoLively discussionBy Reg Lo

The theme of VMworld 2016 is be_Tomorrow.  As we’ve talked about in many previous blog posts, it’s no secret that the demands on IT are changing and that IT leaders need to evolve their strategies or risk the decline of their company’s market position and the loss of relevance for internal IT.

For IT leaders attending VMworld, I hope to offer you a couple of unconventional ways of fostering discussion with your peers around the pressing challenges you’re facing today.

Unpanel:  How I Survived the DevOps Transition

Wednesday, August 31st – 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM

If you’ve ever joined an Unpanel before, you know you’re in for some lively discussion – and to be prepared at any moment to jump up on stage!

Join me and my colleagues, Ed Hoppitt of Battlebots (and VMware) fame and Tom Hite who leads VMware’s DevOps and Open Cloud Services team, as we moderate a dynamic exchange between IT practitioners and their development counterparts. You will hear about the dos, don’ts, and gotchas from both perspectives.

We will invite you to participate with your opinions and insights, and you might become part of the panel.

Add session DEVOP9093 to your agenda

Experience the Business Impact of IT Innovation & Transformation in this Live Interactive Simulation

Wednesday, August 31st – 3:30 PM – 4:30 PM

Join your peers in IT leadership for a live interactive simulation where you get to experiment on what series of IT initiatives will lead to the greatest impact on business revenue and IT costs. This is a unique experiential learning session.

Using a software-based simulation platform, I will team up with my colleague, Andy Troup of VMware Operations Transformation Services, to present you with a variety of IT innovation project options, representing a wide spectrum from developing cloud capabilities to advanced micro-segmentation. Acting as a company with a set budget for operating expenses and innovation, your team will choose which projects to focus and then see the results of your selections.

Will revenue increase because you were able to speed time to market? Will your operating expenses increase or decrease? Will you experience set-backs if you focus on one area but neglect others?

Test your IT strategy theories, participate in lively discussions about today’s options in IT, and walk away with tips for how to build a roadmap for innovation that will work for your organization.

VMworld_ITStrategy (288x300)Add session SDDC9971 to your agenda

I hope to see you at both of these sessions at the end of this month!

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

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Reg Lo is the Americas Director of VMware Accelerate Advisory Services and is based in California.

Business IT is Coming Out of the Shadows

Harris_SeanShadow ITBy Sean Harris

For a number of years the perception among businesses that internal IT is unable or incapable of delivering to their needs (particularly for new and emerging requirements) has led them to bypass internal IT and source their solutions directly from external vendors. This is commonly referred to as Shadow IT.

According to most analysts (see references below), the shadow is now bigger than original object that cast the shadow, which only happens during the final hours of sunset (an interesting analogy) and has brought about the joke that the title CIO stands for “Career is Over”. Synonymous with this is the rise of the Chief Digital Officer (CDO), Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and application development teams, who are becoming more embedded in the lines of business.

How and why has this happened and what can Enterprise IT and the CIO do to reverse this trend?  Or is it too late?

Why is Shadow IT So Prevalent?

Ten to fifteen years ago, for the vast majority of businesses, IT and technology ran the business. By this I mean they ran the business systems, such as HR, CRM, inventory management, financial systems and logistics. There were a few notable exceptions such as mobile operators, media companies, investment banking and the likes of Thomson Reuters, for whom IT and technology was/is the business. In those cases, the revenue generating services that they provided were dependent on IT and technology.

This is even more true today. There are few, if any, businesses that do not rely on technology and IT of some sort to deliver business services to their customers, partners and channels or use IT to provide technology or IT services to enhance the customer experience. This is part of what is often referred to as the Digital Revolution. So why haven’t internal IT departments benefited from the increasing dependence of the business on IT and technology

There are a number of reasons for this. In no particular order these include:

  • A focus on the stability and reliability of IT systems, and the processes and procedures that support them, at the expense of agility has led to a perception that in-house IT is unable to react at the speed of business. This is despite the fact that technology has moved considerably in the direction of delivering agility combined with reliability and availability.
  • Organisational silos in IT make the organisation rigid and unable to react to the changing needs of the business.
  • A one size fits all approach to IT operations. The push for standardisation and shared services to improve IT operational efficiency has led to a one size fits all approach to IT operations, governance, security and application development/delivery.
  • A focus on IT operational efficiency rather than focusing on end to end business benefits and linking IT investment to business gain (market share, margin and revenue). This is often at the expense of user experience and business outcomes.
  • A lack of clear understanding of the IT and technology needs of the business and the clear articulation of this to all in IT. Without this, it’s impossible to articulate to the business of the value that internal IT delivers.

This has led to the lines of business looking elsewhere to fulfill their technology and IT needs. Most CIO’s and IT departments that I speak to complain of ever increasing pressure to reduce spending on IT and cut costs.  However, many analysts point to an increasing spend on technology and IT (see references below). So where is the money going?

The answer is what we call Shadow IT, but so we can hardly call it “Shadow” any more.  Most analysts point out that Shadow IT spend is now greater than the CIO’s IT spend. It is well and truly mainstream.

5 Steps To Reverse This Trend

Step 1

It may sound blindingly obvious, but the first step is to get a clear understanding of the needs and KPIs of the business and how IT maps into that. From this it is possible to start mapping IT spend into business benefits and making the case for IT investments.

Step 2

The next step is to understand that not all applications are equal. Simon Wardley does an excellent job of explaining what I mean in his blog.  Organisations need to take a good look at their application portfolio, what categories they drop into, what their natural lifecycle is and where they are in that lifecycle. This will help to build a multi-modal IT strategy based on the needs of the business and the applications that support the business services.

Step 3

Next we need to switch to a user experience and business outcomes approach to defining and developing IT services rather than features and functions and a sole focus on IT operational efficiency.

Step 4

Next recognise that in-house is not always the best answer. Sometimes the best solution is a third party service and so you need to build an architecture to support a service broker function. In this way IT can ensure that the business gets the best solution for its needs while ensuring that corporate governance, security, audit and compliance requirements are all meet, something that is often compromised by Shadow IT.

Step 5

The final step is to build an organisation and multiple sets of operational procedures and processes (reflecting multi modal operational requirements) to support all of the above. A key part of this transformation is a clear focus on a service-driven organisation designed around the need to support business services and needs of the business.

To be clear this is not a case of tweaking minor parts of the IT organisation of a typical enterprise.  This is a major transformation, but this is your only hope to stop the increasing marginalisation of internal IT and the role of the CIO.

If the IT organisation is able to make this transformation it will lead to a massive increase in investment in the IT organization, redirecting the business IT spend away from third party vendors and back to the IT organisation.  This leads to a massive change in perception of the contribution of the IT organisation to the business.

If you need help applying these principles to your orgnaisation, VMware’s Advisory Services can help you build a strategy and roadmap to undertake the transformation needed to move to a business focused IT delivery organization, maximising the value (and perceived value) of the internal IT organisation within the business.

References:

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Sean Harris is a Business Solutions Strategist in EMEA based out of the United Kingdom.

CIO Imperative: Master Customer Experience to Remain Relevant

Begin a New Life as an Innovation Services Team and Deliver the Experience Your Customers Feel Entitled To

Heman Smithcustomer experienceBy Heman Smith

What is meant by customer experience – for those whom IT serves?

Today’s customers are used to immediate access to an app, typically via a mobile device, immediate ability to execute a task, and immediate results.  This delivers satisfaction and a positive customer experience.  Every industry is experiencing this, with nearly any transaction type you can imagine: banking, healthcare, retail, hospitality, travel and more. Surprisingly, this perceived expectation of immediacy is also spreading rapidly to sectors commonly considered slow to change and respond to change: public sector, utilities, military, etc.

Perception is reality – because people make decisions based on what they perceive to be true. Customers (internal and external) will now often choose the path to easiest results and lowest cost, with less loyalty and commitment than ever before.

What must be done for IT to regain its “preferred provider” status?

Whether we like it or not, IT is not always seen as the business’ preferred provider.  In-house IT is no longer seen as a “must-have”.  Alternatives not only exist, but are expanding and becoming equivalently mature and capable (SaaS, cloud-native apps in the public cloud, etc.). What must IT do now to develop and provide new value to replace its old role and charter?

Optimize Core Services

Immediately and aggressively optimize the core services IT offers that support easy application development, deployment, access and consumption:

  • IaaS, PaaS, Environment as a service, etc.
  • Open and flexible application access
  • Support any app/any device/anytime/anywhere (ie: EUC via solutions such as VMware’s Workspace ONE)
  • Application-focused security based on modern, multi/hybrid cloud-data center network models (VMware’s Airwatch, NSX, etc.)
  • IT-as-a-Business practices: show-back, charge-back, etc.

Embrace the Innovation Services Brand and Mindset

Move away from the legacy name and identity of IT (Information Technology), and adopt a new stance or brand as “Innovation Services”, leading the charge to provide capabilities-as-services needed by the business, using a best resource model as appropriate (developed, or brokered). Much of this change is leadership and culture driven, with process re-design and technology choices supporting the decisions made.

This approach requires the practice of teams counseling together to create an ideal process for delivering more ideal outcomes; both (1) internal to the teams themselves, making their lives easier, and (2) external to the end customer, making their lives easier.  This delivers better customer experience to each party!

Because of this shift in stance, the choice of technologies made by the team(s) is determined by the needed outcome, and how well a technology can rapidly, easily and cost effectively enable that outcome.

Will that cause a lot of technology loyalty shift? Yes.

Must vendors respond by being on-point to support that speed and adaptability in order for their IT customers to deliver better experience and outcomes? Absolutely!

The applications people use, coupled with ubiquitous mobility – are driving the pace of business and IT. DevOps is a response to that opportunity and pressure.

Develop Your DevOps Model… Now

IT must leap into supporting and accelerating the successful adoption of an appropriate-fit DevOps model in order to be of real value to the business. If Infrastructure Services teams don’t clearly understand this mandate, and rapidly take the stance of championing DevOps, then the application development side of the house will find other resources. This change is not optional; it is already underway, and will occur rapidly in the near future whether or not traditional IT teams want it.

If IT doesn’t rapidly respond to this need and change, its chance to be the business’ preferred provider will disappear because some new, successful, out-sourced or internally-stood-up alternative will be entrenched, and change will be seen as too difficult, or unnecessary.

What does this mean for me as an IT leader, and what can I do today?

Delivering exceptional customer experience must be the new mantra and reality for any effective IT leader, and thus for their IT organization. Becoming an “Innovation Services” team, instead of old-fashioned technology maintenance team is the key.

Focus on reducing friction in how any “consumer” (internal / external) accesses and consumes the new services (EUC, IaaS, PaaS, DevOps, etc.). The very mindset of IT staff must shift from habitually operating from a “keep it up and running” mentality – operations first, and adopt a new framework.

Innovation Services now focuses on:

  • How can we make “this” (whatever service “this” may refer to) easier to do, access, support, etc.?
  • How can we make consumption more appealing, more cost effective, more transparent?
  • How can we make us and our services as invisible as possible?
  • And, as I often hear during consulting conversations with frustrated IT leaders: “How can we function more like, so we can compete with, Amazon?”
  1. Mindset is a critical first step: Words have power. So take a stand, make a commitment, and step up to a different future. Craft a vision of opportunity, and invite each member of IT to step into becoming part of the new Innovation Services organization.
  2. Thinking through, and adopting a proven model for change as an Innovation Services provider is the second step. VMware has leading practices and services that assist with this.
  3. Re-organize based on service delivery function, not technology silos.
  4. Stick with it through the challenges of change. Partner with those who know and can coach you to success.

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Heman Smith is a Strategist with VMware Accelerate Advisory Services and is based in Utah.

If They Come – Are You Ready?

Part 1:  Optimizing demand management to deliver “Just in Time” cloud service provisioning.

Bill IrvineBy Bill Irvine

Demand ManagementA common phrase overheard during the creation of new cloud based innovation environments for modernized applications is “build it and they will come”.

The surprise for many IT organizations is that they do come and the challenge becomes dealing with that success and the on-going management of their new environments. Many organizations do not operationalize their capabilities or establish the governance processes they need to be successful as a cloud service provider by the time the technology goes live.

Common Complaints about Cloud Services

In my work with customers designing solutions to address the needs of their business via cloud-based innovation, we hear a consistent list of concerns.

“We are always blindsided by requests that we don’t have the capacity to fulfill – it came out of nowhere”

“We never get enough specific information from the business on what they want until it’s too late”

“They always want to over-provision the environments – we’re always in negotiation mode on resource requirements”

“There’s never enough capacity to meet the business and operational demand”

“Nobody ever gives back resources – even when we know they’re not being used”

“There’s never enough budget to buy capacity when we need it”

“We are always getting escalations about the speed of provisioning and spend most of our time reacting to delayed and unfulfilled requests”

“We have to wait for approvals for every piece of the PaaS puzzle”

 “Everything we do is custom which makes it impossible to automate”

These and a host of similar issues relate to a common theme – the need for effective demand, capacity and request management to ensure a standardized, streamlined, consistent and automated approach to service provisioning.

In this blog series, we will cover each of the key processes in the lifecycle and their importance in creating an IT service brokerage model that can always support the dynamic business demand. The expectations on IT have never been greater.

Communication is Key to Demand Management

The primary goal of demand management is to understand the pipeline of service requirements from the business and to interpret these needs into a predictable forecast of consumption. This forecast becomes a vital part of ensuring that IT always has the capacity to fulfill the evolving requirements and requests.

Sounds easy enough, but the challenge in predicting demand for most organizations is the difference in language between the Line of Business (LOB), the development teams supporting them and the infrastructure providers charged with hosting the services.

IT capacity planners want technical specifications and details of the individual resource components (CPU, Memory, Storage etc.) required in order to ensure the appropriate configuration of resources in the correct “landing zones”.

The business representatives however, typically present their needs in terms of market growth, marketing initiatives that may drive increases in transactions or potential decreases in business volume based on the seasonality of the service supported. These needs are rarely static by nature and evolve over time from conception to reality.

The conversion of business and service needs into technical resource requirements is often more art than science and relies on effective communication and collaboration between a broad group of stakeholders to continuously interpret, structure and mature demand data into knowledge that can be acted upon.

IT needs to interact proactively with the stakeholders to identify demand as early as possible at its source. This source data should be documented in a system of record so that it can be tracked, aligned by service and updated as more detailed information becomes available.  Demand data is progressed through a maturity funnel where requirements are codified, refined, validated, prioritized and compared against historical patterns & trends. This enables the initial business data to be transformed into technical resource requirements and actionable plans.

Demand Maturity Concepts

In order to create a comprehensive and contextual picture of current and future business and service demand, requirements should be subjected to a series of analytical steps to refine the demand.

demand management maturity
Fig 1. Demand Maturity Funnel

  • Capture data from all available sources. Different sources will have differing levels of specificity from business concept to actual service performance data.
  • Understand the sources (e.g. LOB, Service data, etc.) to enable comparisons and correlation with past requirements. Grouping requirements by service should become the overall organizing principle to help make sense of the overall demand.
  • Develop, configure and size a logical grouping of resources into a service offering (e.g. Infrastructure or Platform as a Service) to simplify the calculation of future needs and enable IT to better standardize and automate the provisioning processes. Pre-defined service offerings also provide the opportunity to steer the customer towards preferred solutions that are more efficient and cost effective.
  • Identify patterns of business activity (PBA) for each service and develop educated assumptions as to future needs through the analysis of past requirements, requests and configurations. It’s OK to make assumptions, the business is often guessing at the early stages. Even placeholder information can be valuable especially early in the funnel. Assumptions can be validated and adjusted over the life of the requirement.
  • Develop LOB user profiles and analyze their service usage patterns to further refine the understanding of the needs and requests.
  • Understand existing patterns of business activity, prior demand and the technical profile of related platforms consumed by the specific business unit, the applications supporting the service and the volume of transactions to form an evolutionary pipeline or funnel.

Demand requirements managed through these activities will provide IT the confidence to commit to more aggressive service levels and guarantees regarding capacity and associated cloud resource provisioning.

Key Demand Management Roles

As mentioned, there are many parties and stakeholders involved in managing demand effectively. The most obvious and often overlooked stakeholders are the lines of business themselves. IT’s continuous interaction with the business is key to their improved understanding of the customer needs and to break the cycle of being reactive and unresponsive.

Two of the key roles to ensure this ongoing relationship and demand based dialog are the Business Relationship Manager (BRM) and the Service Owner. These roles are critical to understanding the patterns of business and service activity and ensuring appropriate capacity and capability on a service-by-service basis.

The BRM has a primary responsibility to represent all of elements of IT and the associated service provision and performance to the business function. They are responsible for orchestrating the capture of demand from the business and assisting in the conversion of these needs into the technical capacity that meets the expectations. BRM activities in support of demand prediction include:

  • Identification of customer needs
  • Capture of planned projects and initiatives
  • Communicating changes in service profiles or volumes
  • “Selling” the improvements in service capabilities and helping to influence customer behavior and optimize the business usage of the services provided.

The Service Owner ensures that there is an understanding and awareness of the service as a whole, who utilizes the service, how it supports the business functions, the service capabilities and the current service performance. The Service Owner will be responsible for:

  • Quantification and codification of the overall service needs, resource proportions, configuration and operational dynamics to optimize the performance of the production service
  • Key input into decisions regarding resource capacity and configuration changes required
  • Creation of the environment profiles and service offerings used in the downstream environments (e.g. Dev, Test, QA) as required by the development and operational functions

Demand Management Benefits

Implemented successfully, demand management will enable improvements across all aspects of service provisioning but especially in the areas of capacity and request fulfillment.

Some of the key benefits include:

  • Increased customer satisfaction with services and requests being provisioned without the delays inherent in a reactive environment
  • Improved and faster understanding of service and business requirements with demand being objectively quantified
  • Capacity based risk is identified and addressed throughout the course of the above activities
  • Accurate demand and capacity trending will reduce “over-provisioning” and provide more accurate budgetary planning data to optimize resource / infrastructure costs
  • Basis for JIT (Just In Time) purchasing and release of capacity using confidence-driven forecasts
  • Improved alignment with business goals giving an accurate “picture” of demand activities required to enable business goal attainment
  • Increased confidence in allocation of IT resources and their readiness for service provision

Next Steps

So how do you get started with improving demand management? Some proven initial steps developed with our customers include:

  • Start talking to the business customers and associated development teams to open the dialog and establish the process
  • Enhance standard requirements capture with each line of business defining their requirements by service
  • Capture future needs and updates earlier in the lifecycle to feed the forecasting process
  • Update the guidelines for all requirements capture to be consistent regardless of type (e.g. innovation, run, grow etc.) in a common format for input into demand planning
  • Establish improved methods for collecting trend based run and growth requirements by service.
  • Develop Patterns of Business Activity for each service and monitor key performance and consumption metrics to model current and future operational needs.
  • Analyze and redefine the real-time metrics you collect to better track and report against ongoing capacity use, headroom requirements and growth

In my next post in the series, I will discuss the capacity management stage of lifecycle, focusing on the conversion of demand into capacity requirements and optimization of the overall capacity plan.

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