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Monthly Archives: October 2014

IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS): Transforming How We Manage IT

By Reg Lo

Reg LoAs enterprises make their way along the journey to IT-as-a-Service, CIOs and technology leaders must consider an overhaul of how they run IT – from technology enablement, to the operating model itself. A phased approach to technology enablement, designed as a maturity model, helps provide structure to the journey.  Breaking down traditional IT silos leads to a more functional, service-focused operating model.

Based on years of customer experience, we have developed a three-phased path to ITaaS, as seen in Figure 1.  In Phase I, when IT was seen as a cost center, virtualization created dramatic CapEx savings, resulting in more efficient IT production.  In Phase II, automation results in faster business production, and implementing management tools improves quality of service and reliability.  And in Phase III, IT becomes a service broker, reducing OpEx and increasing agility.  In this phase, IT uses an “IT-as-a-Service” approach, focusing on the end-to-end services that support the business mission, and leveraging technologies and sourcing options that make providing those services reliable, agile, flexible and cost-effective.

ITaaS  Journey

Figure 1. Enabling Technologies for IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS)

It makes sense, then, that the transformation into an IT-as-a-Service approach requires more than just the enabling technologies.  IT needs a new operating model to be successful – a new way of thinking and organizing people and process.

Today, many IT organizations are process-oriented.  Their key IT Service Management (ITSM) processes are managed, process owners are identified, and their processes are enabled through an integrated ITSM tool.  But a process-oriented approach hasn’t changed how they think about managing the technology silos.

ITaaS Evolution

Figure 2. The Evolution of how we Manage IT

Mature IT organizations realize that focusing on managing “end-to-end services” helps them be more customer focused than managing discrete “technology silos.”  A service-oriented approach enables IT to link the customer outcome to IT services, to applications, and to the infrastructure.  These organizations are defining their services, publishing their service catalog, and establishing service owners.

Many IT leaders also talk about “running IT like a business.”  This brings a higher level of maturity to IT, with the same fiscal discipline required to manage a traditional business.  This entails economic transparency or even an economic transaction where the business pays IT based on service consumption and IT, in return, commits to delivering a certain service level.  In this model, business relationship managers act much like account managers in a commercial IT service provider, i.e. building a strategic relationship with the business.

This transformation from process-oriented, to service-oriented, to running IT like a business, results in a new, IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS) operating model.  Another way of looking at this transformation is Figure 3.  Note that the progression is not necessarily sequential, e.g. an IT organization may work on elements of becoming service-oriented and running IT like a business simultaneously.

ITaas Operating Model

Figure 3. ITaaS Operating Model

Many individuals might recognize elements of service management in the ITaaS IT operating model.  While the model builds on service management best practices, it emphasizes service characteristics that are associated with cloud-based XaaS services (where XaaS includes Infrastructure as a Service [IaaS], Platform-as-a-Service [Paas], and Software-as-a-Service [SaaS]).  XaaS are characterized by the quality of service being actively managed, services being rapidly provisioned (typically through automation), ability to pay for what you use, elastic capacity, and high availability and resiliency.  While service management encourages these characteristics, achieving these characteristics across all IT services is a goal of ITaaS.


Reg Lo is the Director of the Service Management practice for VMware Accelerate Advisory Services

Building Transparency and Trust with Business Relationship Management

By Jason Stevenson

Jason StevensonIn my last post, I touched on the idea that in the business relationship management process, nothing is more important than good communication. IT representatives must be prepared to both listen deeply and communicate transparently to ensure the relationship stays healthy and achieves business outcomes. Communication provides IT countless opportunities to market how the commitment to an ITaaS approach to service provisioning benefits the business and how it drives business-focused IT decision-making. It’s critical to ensure IT representatives are well trained in all forms of communication.

Transparency and trust through verbal communication
Business relationship management uses verbal communication to build transparency and trust. This includes marketing IT services and innovations, enabling continual service improvement, soliciting translating feedback into action, discussing desirable business outcomes, quantifiable business investment, customer/IT commitment, and risk.

Non-verbal communication such as professionalism and demeanor play a significant part in building transparency and trust. Though IT may choose what level of the business to engage, ultimately it is unable to choose its customers.  However, IT can choose who will represent it. Good IT representation is based not only on understanding of IT organization, processes, and services but also alignment and affinity with the customer.

Transparency and trust through tools using written communication
Business relationship management uses written communications to supplement and reinforce verbal communication. Written communications include presenting reports on successes associated with opportunities or issues and compliments or complaints log as well as dashboards for services (cost, priorities, levels, and satisfaction), projects (time, resource and scope constraints and priorities), high-risk changes, and integrated customer and IT calendar.

Transparency and trust through process
In addition to oral and written communication, another key element in securing transparency and trust is the use of a consistent process. The following illustration provides four simple steps to initiate business relationship management.

4 Steps to Initiate BRM

 

These initial steps include identifying points of contact within the business to populate a customer portfolio, then selecting the appropriate service provider representation from IT to correspond to each customer within the portfolio. The ratio does not need to be a one to one; however, adequate thought must be given to the number of customers an IT representative can handle before quality becomes a concern.

The simple act of communicating between customers and IT representatives will foster transparency with insight into what each organization is doing. As more information (such as plans, dashboards, and calendars) is shared, the organization becomes more transparent. Often, the more frequent the communication between the organizations, the more trust is built, taking care not to become an annoyance to the customer. With some transparency and trust in place, real discussions around what IT currently offers the customer can mature into a greater discussion of how IT can support current and future wants and needs within the business. With this understanding, IT representatives working with their customers can begin to prioritize and categorize customer wants and needs with corresponding IT services or projects based on volume, size, value and risk.


Jason Stevenson is a transformation consultant with VMware Accelerate Advisory Services.

Found in Translation: IT as Interpreter

By David Smith

David SmithThere is a plethora of articles written about the need to transition and transform IT from a technology focused organization into a business driven organization; from running the business to innovating the business; from control to empowerment; from reactionary to proactive, and so on. But, how do we make sure transformation actually happens and ensure that it sticks?

Why we fail
To be clear, IT is an enabling function of the business … not vice versa. With the advent of pervasive internet technologies, cloud computing and public SaaS offerings, lines of business’ now have more choices than ever, either putting pressures on their IT department or purchasing these services directly. That means, as IT, we need to be the best choice for the things we want to control. The number one reason that transformative initiatives fail is lack of user acceptance, meaning somewhere along the way IT misses understanding, setting, or managing expectations (or all three).

More modern organizations work together across silos in IT — but they don’t break the barriers into business. The business works horizontally by nature, and it doesn’t think in bits and bytes. Business users think about getting work done. Knowing this, IT’s answer to “I need email,” can’t be, “We’ll give you some servers with Exchange and small inbox quotas.” It should be, “For how many users, in which locations, from where will you access, will you need to leverage other systems as part of your workflow, etc.” IT then translates these into architectural components and technical solutions.

A tool for success
Use cases (a list of steps defining the interaction of the user with the system to achieve a goal) are a powerful tool to help bridge the gap between business expectations and IT delivery. With a use case, you objectify the discussion and allow the business to clearly articulate what they need, which allows IT to clearly articulate the resulting requirements. IT leverages these use cases to also identify common needs and create reusable platform components. Which in turn helps break down custom-built environments (silos), decreases cost by maximizing IT investments across many lines of business and helps standardize integration points across the architecture. There are several tools and frameworks that help guide the creation of these use cases, but it all starts with a conversation.

Use Case ElementsTake, for example, a company that had embarked on a transformational IT initiative. The pressure from the business to reduce time to provision devices and applications was so great that they decided to begin with end user computing. They needed to get desktops to devices and applications to users, but they had segmented users into 35 or 40 different profiles and device types. Then they swung the pendulum over to other side to offering only three device-based options for desktops, from fully managed to BYOD. Their challenges remained. The missing piece was how to take these three desktops that was an IT centric view to a use-case driven view. What they really needed was alignment with business on five or six use-case driven segments including roles, responsibilities and workflows.

Defining this happy medium allowed the company to tie the user to the HR system. So now when a user joins the organization, the provisioning process is automated. If an employee changes jobs, the process originates in HR as well, with all the IT steps that were formerly manual becoming fully automated. In this case there was a very clear definition of where to put automation. This set the ground for a continual improvement process between IT and business. Instead of meeting once a year, they now meet monthly and with help of the use cases, they align on where to prioritize IT efforts and investments.

What next?
Every organization must find a balance in how deeply and in how much detail they want to take use cases. Try not to go overboard and paralyze your process through analysis. Start with a business function in a line of business to understand your organization’s appetite for change. Any amount of progress toward meeting the needs of the business will facilitate real transformation.


David Smith is a business solutions architect with VMware Accelerate Advisory Services with 17+ years of experience consulting, advising and directing business and IT transformation initiatives for major global organizations. David applies his contemporary business and technical expertise to collaboratively develop, design and implement actionable roadmaps that help customers realize their SDDC and ITaaS strategies.