By Reg Lo
As 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.
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.
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.
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