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Getting Started on Your Journey: On-Demand Services

Author: Michael Francis

IT organizations are experiencing the change from monopoly holder of IT service delivery to being a supplier of many IT services to the business. And as a supplier of services, IT needs to engage with the business with competitive differentiation.

As CIO, you know that your business customers will migrate to paths of least resistance to achieve their desired business outcomes—many times this means engaging public cloud services. The risk to your IT organization and the enterprise is a lack of governance and the risk of increased cost. Inevitably this approach, which initially may result in agility for the business customer, can quickly become detrimental to achieving broader business initiatives for the enterprise.

I see a second bump on the hype curve of public cloud in my region—Australia. Many of my customers are planning the relocation of assets to the public cloud, with the assumption that it must be more cost-effective. But as the CIO, it’s critical to understand what you’re gaining from relocation and why. Analyzing what drives costs in your private cloud and why these will be reduced in the public cloud is a critical element for success.

Public cloud does play a role in extending enterprise IT capabilities—everything from SaaS-based applications to IaaS-platforms—and today’s CIO needs a strong financial and capability-centric business case to act as a service broker. Transforming your IT organization to deliver more value to the business requires a focus on enabling new business capabilities in a more agile way—a focus on the business needs rather than on a commodity that may or may not be more cost effectively delivered by a third-party supplier.

To successfully transition to an IT broker, the transformation of people, process, and technology must begin with the CIO. Without the support of the CIO, any change will likely be incomplete and focus on only one axis of the people, process, and technology composition.

The next step in architecting an IT broker environment is to envision what the environment may look like in the future and why it will look this way. The image below depicts a progressive, mature enterprise IT architecture. IT services are delivered to the presentation layer and consumed through the brokerage layer implemented in the corporate services cloud. This enables the consumer to access a service with an SLA-based agreement between the consumer and IT. The brokerage layer located in the corporate services cloud is responsible for vendor management and SLA reporting.

Once the CIO and enterprise architects share a common vision for the future, the next step is to identify the existing business services offered by the IT organization and their common SLA requirements. This commonality forms the basis to define the initial IT service offerings. Initially this process would only consider infrastructure-level SLA requirements such as availability, recovery, performance, and security. Start with the infrastructure layer, as it tends to have a high degree of commonality and minimal differentiation. It is also the foundation for more advanced IT service offerings like PaaS and SaaS.

To recap, as CIO you will maximize the probability of success at the onset of your journey to becoming an IT service broker by having a shared vision with your enterprise architects—I can’t overemphasize the importance of a clear and shared understanding of the desired future state. The next step is to implement a brokerage capability—the combination of people, process, and technology operations. Lastly, identify the common SLAs defined for existing business services—these will form the first IT service offerings.

On-demand services can provide the efficiency and agility needed to transform your IT organization from reactive provider to engaged service broker, and finally, to a strategic partner driving the goals of the business.

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Michael Francis is a principal systems engineer at VMware, based in Brisbane.

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