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Monthly Archives: February 2015

Collaboration Between AppDev & Infrastructure for ITaaS

Mark SternerBy Mark Sterner

Traditionally, IT organizations operated in a siloed environment. AppDev teams were tasked with meeting the needs of the business and Infrastructure teams provided the environment to support AppDev. These two organizations had little interaction and even less collaboration. Even worse, the infrastructure provisioning process was viewed as a roadblock to getting the business with what they needed when they needed it.

In today’s IT world two factors have turned this scenario upside down. The first is the trend toward virtualization and automation, which enable the infrastructure team to provide the supporting environments at the speed of business. The second is the desire of companies to adopt an ITaaS (IT as a Service) approach in which IT focuses on the outcomes the business needs and functions much like a business itself.  Evolving to an ITaaS approach requires a great deal of collaboration between all levels of the IT organization, including effective and structured collaboration between AppDev and Infrastructure.

One of the most powerful results of an ITaaS approach is the provision of cost effective, nimble solutions at the speed of business. To achieve this it is important for all IT teams to clearly define and understand the services they provide, particularly the end-to-end services delivered to the business itself.  Historically, defining end-to-end services has often fallen to the AppDev team who took an application-centric approach to the process. This led to a disconnect between AppDev and Infrastructure.  Ideally, this process is a collaborative effort between the two teams to clearly define the services, taking all aspects into consideration, including not only the applications, but also the infrastructure, the service level agreements for elements such as availability and performance and the relative importance of each service to the business operations.

While the process of defining IT services provides the basics of ITaaS, it is only the first step in truly transforming an IT organization. In order to deliver IT as a service, IT must provide the business with metrics that illustrate the benefits provided, particularly the financial value through increased productivity at a lower cost. To meet that goal the AppDev and Infrastructure teams need to collaborate on many different levels to realize these efficiencies.  Streamlining and effectively managing the allocation and deployment process is the first step to lowering the cost of IT.

Typically, AppDev teams of the past chose their solution to the business need with little thought to maximizing the efficiencies of the supporting infrastructure. Additionally, the Infrastructure team provided the environment with little understanding of the application architecture.  Leveraging the efficiencies of a virtualized environment can certainly provide a more agile environment, but only through a collaborative effort can IT truly provide the most effective solution.  AppDev and Infrastructure need to consider all aspects of delivering the solution. This includes availability, security, performance and scalability and reporting requirements. They must also understand and agree upon the application’s importance to the business. This will determine the disaster recovery strategy and define the support levels provided by both teams. Once all these factors are determined and defined, only then can the IT teams develop the most effective solution by aligning the application architecture with the most efficient infrastructure.  This effort will help to lay the groundwork for standardizing the integrated AppDev and Infrastructure processes and delivering measurable metrics that illustrate the success of the transformation to ITaaS.  Additionally, the standardization work can be leveraged to help implement Platform as a Service (PaaS), bringing even greater efficiencies to a virtualized environment.

Collaboration across the entire IT organization is not a new and trendy concept. Several models have emerged as best practice pathways to building and maintaining agile IT teams.  DevOps, for example, addresses the need for IT to provide rapid deployment of systems by breaking down the traditional barriers between IT teams. The “Dev” in DevOps does not simply refer to the AppDev teams, but includes all IT resources such as network engineers, sys admins, security teams and DBA’s. They are all part of the development lifecycle and have a role in the development of the most effective solutions to meet the needs of the business.  Through DevOps, IT organizations become a valued service provider and not a bottleneck to providing business solutions.

ITaaS requires organizations to rethink how they provide solutions to the business. Collaboration between AppDev and Infrastructure is central to successfully transforming to ITaaS. Traditional silos need to be broken down, blurring the lines between internal IT teams.  This may require an internal reorganizational effort to facilitate a more collaborative environment, but even without changes to organizational structure, working together towards a common, outcome-focused objective, is the key.  While managing this entire endeavor may seem a bit overwhelming, changes in the market, competition and technology are requiring most IT organizations to re-evaluate how they can keep up with the demands of today’s business environment.


Mark Sterner brings over 14 years of experience in IT Service Management. He has worked in both the process development and ITIL implementation areas for large IT organizations. Mark is currently a Transformation Consultant at VMware, Inc.

Two Steps to Put IT at the Heart of the Business: How Senior IT Professionals Can Get the Business to Fall in Love with IT

Ed HoppittBy Ed Hoppitt

As Valentine’s Day approaches, I thought it appropriate to pose the question: “How do you move IT from being seen as a mere service provider, to being at the heart of key business decisions and initiatives in 2015?” Put in the parlance of romance, “How do you get the business to fall in love with IT?”

In the last few years, technology innovations and emerging business models have enabled competition in surprising new ways—and from surprising new sources. Now supermarkets are becoming retail banks, and Uber has a higher market value than Hertz and Avis combined. When technology enables a competitor to rise from nowhere in no time at all, it’s up to you, as a senior IT professional, to take charge of shaping the business transformation to empower your colleagues—and earn a place in the heart of the business.

But how do you make that happen? The road to IT romance starts with the following steps.

Step 1: Work on Your Image and Approach

If you’re going to woo the business, you’ll want to put your best foot forward. It’s not enough to transform your organisation; you need to be sure the business notices your new positive changes, and experiences the benefits of your efforts.

First, realise that perception of your organisation is everything, and being seen as a roadblock to innovation and agility will not get you that first date. Winning hearts and minds requires focussing on strategy over technology to contribute a fresh approach to achieving goals rather than the “same old same old.”

A large part of this entails transforming how you source and procure IT services. Most IT organisations are still focussed around complex hierarchical structures that simply aren’t agile enough to support a rapidly changing business environment. Hanging on to old delivery models—like old love letters—will only hold you in the past.

Here, the CIO’s leadership is critical in changing the organisation’s image from “gatekeeper” to “orchestrator.” You will need to champion a collaborative, hybrid sourcing model that allows you to draw on internal innovation—or leverage the dynamic new commercial ecosystem—based on the best solution to the challenge at hand.

Step 2: Contribute Something Meaningful to the Relationship

Having worked so hard to get a seat at the table, you’ll want to be sure you have something to offer once you get there. The following are three areas where you can add value to the business in 2015.

  • Hybrid: 2015 is going to be the year hybrid really takes off, becoming wholly integrated with enterprise IT. It will become key to be able to run a true Bi-Modal IT function, where “and” rather than “or” becomes the norm. No longer will a one-size-fits-all approach work, and the ability to be both a trailblazer of innovation for your business, as well as a safe pair of hands is critical going forward.
  • Internet Of Things (IoT): Internet Of Things (IoT): 2015 looks like the year IoT will become all pervasive. For example, British Gas has announced an IoT project called Hive, which allows customers to control their heating from a smartphone. When a commodity utility business unleashes software (a move driven by IT) as a differentiator, other markets (and competitors in the same market) will quickly follow. It is through taking the initiative and spotting that opportunity to use emerging technologies and then drive that change in your business and market that will bring success in this space. If, as CIO, you see an opportunity and seize it, the rest of the business can’t help but recognize IT as an orchestrator – not a gatekeeper.
  • Security: No company is going to accept a ‘Sony’ moment in 2015, and no IT executive is going to survive one. For too long, security management has lagged behind developments elsewhere in IT. Security needs to be at the heart of business, and that means it needs to be associated with workloads and data, not with the expensive proprietary hardware running complex software that doesn’t understand the constructs of the business.

This Valentine’s Day, do your best to help the business fall in love with you. They may not realise it yet, but you’re about to become the key to their future happiness—and survival. It’s time to get their attention and make some magic happen. Good luck!


Ed Hoppitt is a VMware EMEA Advisory Services & CTO Ambassador

Configuration Management and ITaaS

kai_holthausBy Kai Holthaus

IT as a Service (ITaaS), in which IT focuses on the outcomes the business needs and functions much like a business itself, holds the promise to dramatically change the way customers and users experience and consume IT services. Making extensive yet appropriate use of virtualization and cloud solutions, it will make ordering IT services and consuming services much easier and less painful. What does this paradigm shift mean on the back-end? How does IT need to change its ways to deliver ITaaS? This blog post looks at a couple of aspects related to Configuration Management, i.e. the process of tracking, controlling and managing configuration items used by an IT department to deliver services to the business.

Two things come to mind with regards to Configuration Management in an ITaaS world. First, it will be very common to supply services made up of a mix of in-house and outsourced IT services. Configuration Management policies and processes will have to be re-examined to ensure the right level of control is exercised over both the in-house and the outsourced services to ensure quality services are being delivered. This aspect of how Configuration Management would work in an ITaaS world will have to be the subject of a later blog post, as I would like to focus on the second aspect.

This second aspect to consider is the automating of updates to the Configuration Management System (CMS) as changes in the environment are increasingly automated. The CMS is the collection of tools and databases that an IT organization uses to collect, store, manage, update, analyze and present its configuration information.  Most organizations today rely on a form of discovery to detect what the IT environment looks like. Some organizations allow discovery to update the CMS when discrepancies are found, and report what was updated to the responsible roles within the organization. However, this form of automated updates is still an after-the-fact update, resulting in a CMS that does not reflect the actual IT environment for some period of time, depending on how often discovery is run.

Instead, the CMS should be updated as part of the automated workflows that are being implemented to perform the changes themselves.  For instance, if an automation engine automatically provisions a new virtual machine, or changes the layout of the software-defined network, the same automation engine should also update the CMS records at the same time. This way, the CMS remains an accurate reflection of the IT environment, even as the rate of change increases.  Note that it would be important to maintain a history of these changes – just as with ‘manual’ updates of the CMS, the tool must also keep track of historical records and versioning information for snapshot baseline and audit purposes.

As an example, let us consider an application that is being delivered over the web. In a “traditional” environment, this application would utilize multiple web servers, typically behind a load balancer, to deliver the user interface to the users. The capacity for these web servers would have to be sized to meet even spikes in utilization. In contrast, in a virtualized environment, the environment could be configured to monitor usage levels continuously. Once the usage levels exceed a pre-defined threshold, additional web servers could be provisioned in the public cloud and be made available to serve the additional needs. Once usage levels drop below a defined threshold, the additional servers in the public cloud could be decommissioned automatically.

In an ITaaS world, this process of automatically provisioning and de-provisioning resources to serve additional demand would also automatically enter the new servers as new CIs into a CMS (and change their status following decommissioning), ensuring that at any time the CMS would provide an accurate view into the environment. Should incidents occur in this environment of in-house servers and servers hosted in the public cloud, support personnel are equipped to make the right decisions based on the current and dynamically changing situation.

In summary, the process of Configuration Management will have to adapt to a new way of doing things in an ITaaS world. Automation of operational tasks should include updating the CMS in this world to ensure the CMS remains an accurate reflection of the live environment, therefore providing valuable information to IT support personnel when making decisions.


Kai Holthaus is a Transformation Consultant with the Accelerate Advisory Services team and is based in Portland, Oregon.