Authors: Michael Hubbard / W. Eric Ledyard
Today, many IT organizations are finding themselves suddenly being compared to external cloud service providers through the lenses of cost and/or level of service provided. Whether they ever had aspirations of providing their organization with “a platform as a service,” they now find themselves being compared with providers that are architected solely to provide similar IT services “as a service.” The Accelerate team calls this phenomenon “Accidental Platform,” and it is a very common occurrence today. Many times, we work with organizations that we hear saying things like, “The business owners want to compare us directly to what they can get from Amazon or Google, but what they don’t realize is that we are not built in the same way they are, so it is an unfair comparison.”
Unfortunately, this is not going to keep these folks from making these comparisons and as a result, many IT organizations are now being challenged to provide detailed explanations to the company’s executive team as to why external providers can provide (a perceived) higher level of service at a much lower cost. Whether or not there is any truth to the external providers’ claims, the challenge that we typically see is that the internal IT organization is not even speaking the same ‘service language’, let alone functioning in the same operational manner, which can put them at a significant disadvantage when having these conversations with senior leadership.
Becoming an agent of change
“Well, what do we do—we aren’t built that way, and we do not see ourselves as having a service provider infrastructure?”
The first step toward success is to become an agent of change — start seeing yourself as a service provider to the organization and begin acting like it. For years now, your IT organization has been providing services to the rest of the company. You may not call yourself a service provider based on what your perception of what that phrase may or may not mean, but the fact is you are providing a service, and now the organization is going to compare you to other providers. You need to be armed to have the same type of conversation these providers will have when talking to your executive teams. For example, if you are speaking the same type of service-oriented language and measuring yourself against the same key performance indicators (KPIs) that service providers do, you will be able to explain much more eloquently and succinctly why you are or are not the best provider for a given service.
Accelerate the transformation of your IT organization
“That sounds great to say, but we have a very large IT organization, and it will take forever to get anything to change in how we function in our daily operations.”
You are not alone. Every IT organization faces these same issues and challenges today as cloud computing gains more and more momentum. In fact, because of this trend, VMware has invested heavily in creating an organization that can help you accelerate your transformation efforts. By putting together a team of experts who have lived and breathed these same challenges in the market at executive levels, VMware’s Accelerate Advisory Services has created a broad portfolio of services designed specifically towards addressing each of the challenges that an IT organization faces when trying to move from a traditional IT structure to an internal IT service provider. We have tackled the challenges of measuring, transforming, and building an ongoing strategy for all our clients and can do the same for your environment. The result will be a complete plan for how you can move from an accidental platform to a true service provider in as little time as possible.
We believe that there are three key stages in transforming your IT organization, and we have built the following service offerings aligned to achieving this process:
1.) Accelerate Benchmarking Services: Only by measuring where you are today can you create a plan for transforming your environment to meet your end-state goals. We have created a number of offerings that allow you to quickly measure your organization and provide you with clear visibility on where you are today and what gaps exist in achieving your goals.
2.) Transformation Readiness Services: We provide a number of service offerings that help you transform the organizational, operational, and financial aspects of your IT organization to enable the transition from the traditional environment to a service-provider environment.
3.) IT Strategy Services: We then work with you to design a transformation strategy across seven key areas of your organization to get you to a point where you are running your I.T. environment as a service (ITaaS).
There are many examples where we have seen success working with large organizations. One that is very relevant is an organization where after meeting with the CIO, he came to the realization that he “…didn’t have a technology problem, he had a mentality problem.” It was at that point that we gathered 25 of his mid-level IT leaders, some HR people, plus a few business line leads and performed a morning workshop of mission alignment. We brought everyone together on the same goals of the organization, and held an afternoon workshop with the better-aligned team to understand and catalog the capability gaps on what was stopping them from acting in a different manner. Was it an issue of permission, capability, budget, skills, and so forth? From this point, we were able to help the CIO by re-aligning his leaders toward a common goal, identifying roadblocks to their success that he could help them overcome, and by providing a strategy for achieving overall success.
Another great example of how we have helped organizations is one where we helped a financial company achieve 100% of its cloud capabilities by shedding light on areas that were previously unseen, which would have been detrimental for the IT organization reaching its business goals. In this example, the CIO was supportive of virtualization but wanted more transparency around what the IT organization was accomplishing through its efforts. The VP of Infrastructure shared a common industry misperception that “…virtualization saves us so much money; we don’t even need to measure it. We know it works and is a positive thing.”
Despite that misperception, the Accelerate team worked with the reticent blessing of the VP to gather detailed KPIs from his team and environment to define the exact amount of impact – financial and operational – that virtualization and entry-level automation was having on the capability and cost profiles of Infrastructure within their organization. While directionally the data was not a surprise to the VP at all, quantitatively there were two bold “ah-ha moments” for the VP and his infrastructure organization. First, the overall savings were 4X what the VP had estimated and second, that he was leaving 75% of the savings on the table.
At this point in their journey, the team was only 25% of the way to its goal of a full private cloud—and that had taken them three years to achieve. Did the VP really want to continue on a 12-year journey to realize his team’s goals, or did the Accelerate team have the proof needed to “accelerate” the completion of their direction? In fact we did — through a data-driven, historical approach that would show the financial opportunity and address risk by bringing a balanced approach of technology and strategy to achieve what other VMware customers were achieving.
The other compelling impact we had within this organization was in discovering that their current budget proposal (that was in the process of being whittled down by Finance) would not allow the organization to complete its journey — in its current state, their budget would only be able to take them from 25% of their goal to around 50% of where they wanted to be. When the CIO saw this and understood the ramifications, he took ownership to champion a larger capital request to the Board of Directors for a full set of budget, resources, consulting, and training to get the organization to 100% of the desired-state goal. By taking a data-driven approach to analyzing their environment, the CIO was able to gain sponsorship and buy-in of his peers, paving the way to take the steps necessary to ensure successful completion of their projects.
Hope is not a strategy
Don’t find yourself caught unprepared to have this conversation with your stakeholders when the time comes. If you have not been approached yet with these questions or challenges, consider yourself lucky and take a proactive approach towards transforming your IT organization. If you have already been hit with these requests and are wondering where to start, know we have worked with some of the world’s largest organizations and have helped drive impactful results for them through our proven methods of IT assessment, transformation and strategy. By transforming their people, process, and technology elements, we have enabled their IT teams to drive business agility throughout the IT organization and become the preferred service provider.
Let us show you how we can help you accelerate your IT transformation efforts and help you turn your “accidental platform” into a true IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS) organization.