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From CIO to CEO: Shaping Your ITaaS Transformation Approach

Jason StevensonBy Jason A. Stevenson

In this CIO to CEO series we’ve discussed how to run, organize, and finance an ITaaS provider. In this blog, we will discuss how to approach the ITaaS transformation to gain the most value.

Barriers to Success

Transforming a traditional IT organization to be a private cloud provider and/or public cloud broker using ITaaS contradicts many basic human behaviors. To undergo a transformation we must convince ourselves to:

  • Put other people first; specifically customers paying for the service and users receiving the service.
  • Place ourselves in a service role from the very top of the IT organization to the very bottom and allow ourselves to be subservient to others.
  • Give up the notion of self-importance and recognize each and every person plays an equal role in the chain when delivering an end-to-end service and accept a fair amount of automation of what we do on a regular basis.
  • Redistribute control from individuals to processes that leverage group intelligence and center authority within service ownership and lifecycle.
  • Become truly accountable for our role in service delivery and support where all involved can clearly see what we have done or not done.
  • Approach problems and continual service improvement in a blameless environment that shines light on issues rather than covering or avoiding them.

In other words, we must be: humble, honest, relaxed, and trusting. Not the kind of words you often hear in a technology blog but nonetheless accurate. In essence, we must change. That is different from he must change, she must change, or they must change; and that is very different from it must change. In the IT industry, we tend to abstract change by focusing on “it” which is often hardware and software and then deflect change to “they” which is often users or another department.

Are You Ready for Change?

The first two questions an ITaaS CEO (CIO) needs to ask are:

  1. “Do I really want change?”
  2. “Are we really willing to change?”

Initially the answer seems obvious “Of course I do, we have to.” In that subtle nuance of “I” and then “we” lies our challenge. As we wade in we realize the level of resistance that’s out there and the effort it will take to overcome it. We begin to realize the long term commitment needed. For the faint of heart, change dies then and there. But for those who take on challenge the journey is just beginning.

Many IT organizations are focused on service/technology design and operation and therefore do not have the necessary level of in-house expertise to guide their own organization through a complete people, process, and technology transformation. To ensure the greatest return on their investment, many organizations look to a partner that is:

  • Specifically experienced in transformation to instill confidence within their organization.
  • External to their organization and somewhat removed from internal politics to increase effectiveness.

Assuming a partnership is right for your organization for these or other reasons the question becomes “How do I pick the right partner?

Personal Trainer vs. Plastic Surgeon

You’ve heard the saying “Be careful what you ask for you might just get it.” This is very true of an ITaaS CEO looking for a partner to relieve some of the effort and commitment associated with change. Becoming a cloud provider/broker is hard work. The analogy of personal trainer was specifically chosen because of its implication that the hard work cannot be delegated. Though counterintuitive, the more an ITaaS CEO or his/her team attempts to push the “hard work” to a partner the more the partner becomes a plastic surgeon, “delivering” a pretty package with no guarantee that your organization won’t slip into old habits and lose all value gained.

A personal trainer doesn’t exercise or eat for their client, but coaches them along every step of the way. A personal trainer does not usually deliver exercise equipment, assemble the equipment, or even necessarily write a manual on how to use the equipment. What personal trainer does is show up at regular intervals to work side by side with an individual, bringing the knowledge they have honed by going through this themselves and assisting others.

For an IT organization that is looking to become a cloud provider/broker, reduce cost, or just be more consistent or agile, a partner can help more by providing consultation than deliverables. This isn’t to say that a partner shouldn’t develop comprehensive plans or assets, but your organization will get more value out of developing plans and assets as a team, coached by your partner, to ensure a perfect fit. Though the partner may recommend technology and then implement it, this is just one piece of the puzzle. Establishing a trusted relationship between the partner and the IT organization takes regular workouts/interaction.

My Approach to “Personal Training”

We all wish we didn’t have day jobs or family responsibilities when we want to spend time at the gym but reality mandates we spend short but regular amounts of time with our personal trainer. This is also true of the IT department and their partner. Though 100% of the organization must be involved in change at some point these workshops equate to approximately 10% of the time of 10% of the organization. When I am engaged in large-scale transformation with my customers, I find the optimal cadence for hands-on consultation is every two or three weeks, with three days (usually in the middle of the week) that feature half-day workshops consisting of a 2-hour morning session and a 2-hour afternoon session. These workshops are both timed and structured using principles that build goodwill with all stakeholders involved whether they are proponents or opponents to change.

A simplified version of my approach to overcoming resistance and obtaining commitment is to:

  1. Start by sharing a common vision, how the vision has value, and how we all contribute to producing that value.
  2. Raise awareness and understanding through orientation to allow as many people as possible to reach their own conclusion instead of trying to tell them what their conclusion should be.
  3. Establish trust with all involved by involving them in an assessment. Not an assessment of technology or the environment; rather an assessment that draws people out and engages them by asking what is working and shouldn’t be changed, what isn’t working and needs to be changed, and what challenges do we foresee in making a change.
  4. Openly and interactively draft a service model that includes features, benefits, and commitments and a management model that includes roles, responsibilities, policies, processes.
  5. Automate and enforce the service model and the management model through tool requirements.
  6. Review and revise after group workshops and through great finesse. Over time the group will progressively elaborate on these models and tools, going broader and deeper just as a personal trainer would by adding more exercises, more weight, and repetitions.

Avoiding Burnout

At the gym, we may overcome the initial challenge of understanding health and exercise only to discover how painful our aching muscles can be. This stresses the importance of rest and cross training. Much like a personal trainer, our IT partner must not push an organization to gorge on change or focus on one particular component of change for too long. This can sometimes seem sporadic to our team so the approach must be clearly communicated as part of the vision.

You may have noticed the use of the word “team” and wondered who is it? We can consider team in this context as the service’s stakeholders. That is everyone involved in delivery of service and yes that does include customer and user representatives.

An ITaaS CEO that involves his or herself… and not only chooses change and discipline, but also a partner focused on promoting team change and self-discipline over short-cut deliverables, will find their organization in a much better position to transform to a cloud provider/broker using ITaaS.

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Jason Stevenson is a Transformation Consultant with VMware.

ROI Analysis: 4 Steps to Set the Scope

Everything and the Kitchen Sink

Lisa SmithBy Lisa Smith

As I discussed in “Introduction to ROI”, determining what to include or exclude in your ROI analysis can be tricky.  What if you leave off a metric that ends up being materially very significant and eats up all of your savings when you begin to implement?  Shouldn’t you just include ALL of your related costs, just to be sure?  Sometimes it feels much more comfortable spending many hours in “analysis paralysis”, just to be safe.

But I am jumping ahead of myself.  Let’s start with the mechanics of how to figure out the scope of your ROI Analysis.

Setting the Scope for ROI Analysis

The guiding principle is pretty simple:  Model the stuff your solution is going to impact.   

Step 1 – Create a Capabilities List

Create a list of all the capabilities your project is going to deliver in a single column (I like to use Excel, even for a text exercise like this).

Step 2 – Create a Benefits List

In a second column next to this list of capabilities, draft the benefits that are going to be delivered by these capabilities.  To do this you need to answer the question, “So what?” with regard to every capability you are delivering.  The lens for these benefits should be focused on what the company is going to achieve from the successful implementation of the project you are requesting funding for.  Don’t get caught up in how you are going to measure these benefits just yet.  Don’t judge what will be considered big savings or small savings.  Just free flow – write them down.

If this exercise is really hard then it might mean that you need to get a better handle on your desired future state.  If you have a great vision of where you are trying to get to with your project, a list of high level benefits should flow easily.

Step 3 – Refine Your Value Drivers

After you have your list of capabilities and benefits (I will refer to these items as “value drivers”), share that list with your peers who are familiar with your “as is” state and your “to be” state.   You might be given a few more value drivers to consider, or you might decide to drop a few value drivers.  If your project includes benefits or services consumed by other teams or end customers then you need to spread your wings, leave your nest and start talking to other people.  The conversation would sound like, “If we could provide, ABC Service, what would the benefits to your team be?”  This “voice of the customer” data provides a great insight into how well adopted your project or service would be; evidence that wider spread gains would be achieved beyond just your team.

“If you build it, they will come” may work in the movies, but the success of any technology project hinges on internal adoption.  Many internal cloud projects failed to get the adoption levels they were expecting from other lines of business.  They built it, but no one is coming.  Quite often these missteps could have been avoided if they had a greater understanding of their consumers’ needs and desires, and used those to fuel the short list of the cloud services provided.

Step 4 – Create a Value Model

Let’s create a value model using an example from VMware’s product vROPs, Capacity Management benefit statement:

“Capacity management helps identify idle 1 or overprovisioned2 VMs to reclaim excess capacity and increase VM density3 without impacting performance.  “

Reclaiming excess capacity is our “So what?”, or benefit statement.    We need to draft a model to calculate the financial impact of reclaiming excess capacity.  The model should include the before and after depiction from our three new capabilities:

  1. Removing idle workloads
  2. Reducing assets provisioned per workload
  3. Increasing VM density or consolidation ratio

ROI AnalysisThe net effect of reclaiming excess capacity refers to expenses associated with server and storage infrastructure capacity.   If that was the scope of your analysis, the capital expense associated with the server and storage savings would be all you needed.  You might also consider expanding the scope, to include the operating expenses also tied to that hardware.  Those operating expenses would cover the power and cooling of the hardware, the data center space overhead, the administrator labor needed to install, maintain, support and refresh that gear.  This technique is often referred to creating a “total cost of ownership” view, considering the acquisition cost as well as the ongoing operating cost of an asset.

Try grouping the value drivers into themes such as reducing computer hardware infrastructure, reducing incident management processes, or reducing time to market for application development.  For a single theme it is best to create a single value model for all of those value drivers.  This is most helpful in providing a single depiction of the “as is” costs or process effort of today compared to a view of the future “to be” state – comparing apples to apples.

So where do we draw the line on scope?

If your value drivers are a pretty short list, feel free to model every aspect of those benefits.  If your value benefits list is lengthy and your “so what” list has over 10 items, please consider scoping to only key and material items.

While I am going to be applying a bit of circular logic here for a minute – if any one line item in your TCO analysis is less than 10% of your total savings, you might consider dumping it from your model.  The savings does not support the effort to QA your math or the effort to socialize the savings.  Secondly, if your savings is considered “soft savings” you might want to consider dropping it also.  Especially if you have plenty of hard dollar saving to justify the investment.  Don’t gild the lily.  If you are not familiar with “hard and soft dollars” concept, I will be covering that in a future article.

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Lisa Smith is a Business Value Consultant in the VMware Accelerate Advisory Services team and is based in New York, NY.

Commodity IT – It’s a good thing for everyone!

les2By Les Viszlai

Traditionally, IT commodity services and products have the highest percentage of being outsourced in our industry. There is a belief among a majority of people in our industry that IT commoditization is a very bad thing.

In its simplest form, a company’s success is measured by its capability to produce a product or service efficiently and to meet the market demand for that product or service.  Running IT as a business implies that we need to also do the same for our internal customers by providing products and services cost effectively with repeat-ability and predictability at an agreed cost.  IT organizations are viewed as a business enabler and trusted advisor by getting out of the business of building and running commodity IT products and services and focusing on providing the business with resources that provide new product capabilities and business differentiators in their market.

We need to understand what a commodity is in order to change how IT is run and provide that business focus.

commodity starts as any thing that has a perceived value by a consumer. A more common understanding of a commodity is a product that is generic in nature and has the same basic value as all similar items. (a simplified example is a Server)

For example, virtualized hardware, in the IT data center context, is a device or device component that is relatively inexpensive, widely available and more or less interchangeable with other hardware of its type.

By definition, a commodity product lacks a unique selling point. In an IT context, the term usually differentiates typical IT products from specialized or high-performance products. A commodity, when looked at this way, is a low-end but functional product without distinctive features.  Generally, as hardware moves along the technology cycle, that hardware becomes a commodity as the technologically matures in that marketplace. That implies that most hardware products, like network switches, that have been around for a long time are now available in commodity versions, although they aren’t generally marketed as such.  In the past, physical networking infrastructure was viewed as specialized until the maturity of virtualization of this layer of technology became available and more widely spread.

Example IT Transformation Journey - Commodity Services

Example IT Transformation Journey

Lets look at a more traditional commodity example, the local gas station.  The gas at your pump is the same as the gas at any of the other pumps. It’s also the same as the gas at the station across the street or across town.  There may be a very slight change in price, but the products essentially sell for the same basic price and are the same regardless where they are purchased.  Can your consumers of IT products and services get this same consistency? Are we trying to refine our own gas before providing it to our consumers?

When we compare this scenario to a traditional IT organization we need to ask ourselves, what commodity areas are we focusing on reinventing and providing. From the IT standpoint, can we virtualize our hardware environment and reap some of the benefits like “FASTER TIME TO MARKET”, “COST EFFECTIVENESS” and “IMPROVED QUALITY”.  Are we already doing this and can we drive further up the technology curve build and/or broker services and products such as IaaS, PaaS or SaaS to drive faster business value?

Our common fear is that “Commodity IT” implies low quality and cost or that our roles will be outsourced.  In comparison, a commodity product or service is not sold cheaper that it takes to produce or run it.  Like wise a commodity IT product or service should have affordability, repeat-ability and predictability in delivery and as brokers not builders,  IT organizations can provide this service to the business.

In summary, studies have shown that IT organizations focus a lot of effort and resources on building and running products and services at the back end of the transformation curve.  This is the area with the least amount of business value but consumes a majority of IT time & resources.  IT organizations need to shift focus to the front of the technology cycle and help the business create and engineer new products and services that drive revenue.

IT best practices exist to help IT organizations move to the front of the technology cycle by reorganizing people, process and technology to use the building blocks of various commodity products and services to provide affordable, repeatable and predictable services. This allows IT organizations to focus on the front of the curve.  Now that’s a lot more valuable and fun.

Commodity IT – It’s a great thing for everyone!

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Les Viszlai is a principal strategist with VMware Advisory Services based in Atlanta, GA.

Understanding Software-Defined Networking for IT Leaders – Part 1

Reg Lo By Reg Lo

Software-defined networking (SDN) is revolutionizing the datacenter much like server virtualization has done. It is important for IT leaders to understand the basic concepts of SDN and the value of the technology: security, agility through automation and cost-savings. This blog post explores some of the security benefits of SDN using a simple analogy.

DomiNations

Courtesy of the game DomiNations, Nexon M, Inc.

My kids are playing DomiNations – a strategy game where you lead your nation from the Stone Age to the Space Age. I recruited their help to illustrate how SDN improves security. In this analogy, the city is the datacenter; walls are the firewall (defense against attackers/hackers), and the workloads are the people/workers.

The traditional way of defending a city is to create walls around the city. In the same manner, we create a perimeter defense around our datacenter using firewalls. However, imagine there is a farm outside the walls of the city. Workers need to leave the protection of the city walls to work in the farm. This leaves them vulnerable to attack. In the same way, as workloads or virtual machines are provisioned in public or hybrid clouds outside the datacenter firewalls, what is protecting these workloads from attack?

DomiNations

Courtesy of the game DomiNations, Nexon M, Inc.

In an ideal world, let’s say my kids have magical powers in the game and they enchant the city walls so they can expand and contract to continuously protect the workers. When a worker goes to the farm, the walls automatically extend to include the worker in the farm. When they return back to the city, the walls return to normal. SDN is like magic to your firewalls. Instead of your firewalls being defined by physical devices, a software-defined firewall can automatically expand into the public cloud (or the part of the hybrid cloud that is outside of your datacenter) to continuously protect your workloads.

This ability to easily and automatically configure your firewalls provides another benefit: micro-segmentation. As mentioned before, in a traditional city, the city walls provide a perimeter defense. Once an attacker breaches the wall, they have free range to plunder the city. Traditional datacenters have a similar vulnerability. Once a hacker gets through the firewall, they have free range to expand their malicious activity from one server to the next.

DomiNations

Courtesy of the game DomiNations, Nexon M, Inc.

Micro-segmentation of the network is like having city walls around each building. If an attacker breaches the outer perimeter, they can only destroy one building before having to re-start the expensive endeavor of attacking the next line of defense. In a similar fashion, if a hacker penetrates one application environment, micro-segmentation prevents them from gaining access to another application environment.

Software-defined networking can improve information security. Every few months there is a widely publicized security breach that damages a company’s brand. CIOs and other IT leaders have lost their jobs because of these breaches. SDN is a key technology to protect your company and your career.

In Part 2 and 3 of this series, “Understanding Software-Defined Networking for IT Leaders,” we’ll explore how SDN increases agility and drives cost savings.


Reg Lo is the Director of VMware Accelerate Advisory Services and is based in San Diego, CA.  You can connect with him on LinkedIn.

Solving the Shadow IT Problem: 4 Questions to Ask Yourself Now

Harris_SeanBy Sean Harris

Most IT organizations I speak to today admit they are concerned about the ever-increasing growth in the consumption of shadow IT services within the business; the ones that are not concerned I suspect are in denial. A common question is, “How do I compete with these services?” The answer I prefer is: “Build your own!”

What Would It Mean for My IT Organization to Truly Replace Shadow IT?

Totally displacing Shadow IT requires building an organization, infrastructure and services portfolio that fulfills the needs of the business as well as—or better than—external organizations can, at a similar or lower cost. In short, build your own in-house private cloud and IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS) organization to run alongside your traditional IT organization and infrastructure.

Surely your own in-house IT organization should be able to provide services that are a better fit for your own business than an external vendor.

IT service providers often provide a one-size-fits-all service for a variety of businesses in different verticals: commercial, non-commercial and consumer. And in many cases, your business has to make compromises on security and governance that may not be in its best interests. By definition, in-house solutions will comply with security and governance regulations. Additionally, the business will have visibility into the solution, so the benefits are clear.

How Do I Build My Own Services to Compete With Shadow IT?

Answering the technical part of this question is easy. There are plenty of vendors out there offering their own technical solutions to help you build a private cloud. The challenge is creating the organizational structure, developing in-house skills, and implementing the processes required to run a true ITaaS organization. Most traditional IT organizations lack key skills and organizational components to do this, and IT organizations are not typically structured for this. For example:

  • To capture current and future common service requirements and convert these into service definitions, product management-type skills and organizational infrastructure are needed.
  • To promote the adoption of these services by the business, product marketing and sales-type functions are required.

These are not typically present in traditional IT organizations. Building this alongside an existing IT organization has three main benefits:

  • It is less disruptive to the traditional organization.
  • It removes the pain of trying to drive long-term incremental change.
  • It will deliver measurable results to the business quicker.

What If External IT Services Really Are Better?

It may be discovered after analyzing the true needs of the business that an external provider really can deliver a service that is a better fit for the business needs – and maybe even at a lower cost than the internal IT organization can offer. In this case, a “service broker” function within the IT organization can integrate this service into the ITaaS suite offered by IT to the business far more seamlessly than a traditional IT organization can. The decision should be based on business facts rather than assumptions or feelings.

How Do We Get Started?

As part of VMware’s Advisory Services and Operation Transformation Services team, I work with customers every day to map out the “Why, What and How” of building your own ITaaS organization to compete with Shadow IT services:

  • Why
    • Measurable business benefits of change
    • Business case for change
  • What
    • Technology change
    • Organizational change
    • People, skills and process change
  • How
    • Building a strategy and roadmap for the future
    • Implementing the organization, skills, people and process
    • Measuring success

In the end, customers will always choose the services that best meet their needs and cause them the least amount of pain, be it financial or operational. Working to become your business’ preferred service provider will likely take time and resources, but in the long run, it can mean the difference between a role as a strategic partner to the business or the eventual extinction of the IT department as an antiquated cost center.


Sean Harris is a Business Solutions Strategist in EMEA based out of the United Kingdom.

What Is DevOps, and Why Should I Care? — The IT Leadership Perspective

kai_holthausBy Kai Holthaus

One of the newest buzz words in IT organizations is “DevOps.” The principles of DevOps are contrary to how IT has traditionally managed software development and deployment. So, why are more and more organizations looking to DevOps to help them deliver IT services to customers better, cheaper and faster?

But…what exactly is DevOps anyway? It is not a job or a tool or a market segment; it’s best defined as a methodology, or an approach. It has ideological elements that are in common with techniques like Sigma Six and Lean. More on this later.

Software Development and Deployment Today

DevOps todayIn today’s world, there’s a “wall” between the teams that develop software and the teams that deploy software. Developers work in the “Dev” environment, which is like a sandbox where they can code, try, test, stand up servers and tear them down, as the coding work requires. Teams working in the “Ops” environment deploy the software into a production environment, where they also ensure the software is operational. Often, the developed software is literally ‘thrown over the wall’ to operations teams with little cooperation during the deployment.

Why Was It Set Up That Way?

This “wall” is an unintended consequence of the desire to allow developers to perform their tasks, and operational teams to do theirs. Developers are all about change; their job is to change the existing (and functional) code base to produce additional functionality. Operations teams, on the other hand, desire stability. Once the environment is stable, they would like to keep it that way, so that customers and users can do their work.

For that reason, developers usually do not even have access to the production environment. Their work—by nature—is considered too disruptive to the stability of the production environment.

The Problems with Today’s Development and Deployment

Because of the separation between developers and operations, deployment is often cumbersome and error-prone. While developers are usually asked to develop deployment techniques and scripts, these techniques first have to be adapted to the production environment. Then they have to be tested. And since the deployment teams don’t usually understand the new code (or its requirements) as well as the developers, the risk to introduce errors rises. Worst case, it will lead to incidents, which are all too common.

Additionally, in today’s datacenters that are not yet software-defined, new infrastructure—such as compute, storage or network resources—is hard to set up and integrate into the environment. This further slows down deployments and raises the possibility of disruptions to the environment.

DevOps to the Rescue

At its core, DevOps is a new way of developing and maintaining software that stresses collaboration, integration and automation. It attempts to break down the “wall” between development and operations that exists today by removing the functional separation between the teams. It uses agile development and testing methodologies, such as Scrum, and relies on virtualization and automation to migrate entire environments instead of migrating just the codebase between environments.

The main goal of implementing a DevOps approach is to improve deployment frequency—up to “continuous deployment”—of small, incremental improvements to the functionality of software. Essentially, “dot releases,” and with software updates evolving from manufactured media to online streaming, this makes complete sense.

DevOps_graphic2

Why DevOps? Why Now?

With the increased availability and utilization of software to provision, manage and decommission resources—such as compute, storage and network in datacenters and IT environments—the DevOps approach is becoming more and more common. IT organizations are now able to create new resources, integrate them quickly into environments, and even move them between environments with the click of a button. This allows developers to develop their code in a particular technology stack, and then easily migrate the entire stack to the production environment, without disrupting the existing environment.

Sounds Great, How Do I Start?

The three main aspects that need to be addressed to implement a DevOps approach for the development and operations of software come down to the familiar elements of project management:

  • People
  • Process
  • Technology

On the people side, teams have to be established that have accountability over the software across its entire lifecycle. The same teams that develop the software will also assure the quality of the software and deploy the software into the production environment.

From a process perspective, an agile development methodology, such as Scrum, must be implemented to increase the frequency at which deployable packages of software are being created. Reducing the amount of change at each deployment cycle will also increase the success rate of the deployments, and reduce the number of incidents being created.

On the technology side, DevOps relies heavily on the Software-defined Datacenter (SDDC), including high levels of automation for the provisioning, management and decommissioning of datacenter resources.

VMware Is Here to Help

VMware has been the leader in providing the software to enable the SDDC. VMware also has the knowledge and technology to enable you to use DevOps principles to improve your software-based service delivery. VMware vRealize Code Stream enables continuous deployment of your software. And if you like to be on the leading edge of technology, check out VMware Photon for a technology preview of software that allows you to deploy new apps into your environments in seconds.


Kai Holthaus is a delivery manager with VMware Operations Transformation Services and is based in Oregon.

4 Key Elements of IT Capability Transformation

worthingtonp-crop-150x150By John Worthington

As with any operational transformation, an IT organization should start with a roadmap that lays out each step required to gain the capabilities needed to achieve their desired IT and business outcomes. A common roadblock to success is that organizations can overlook one or more of the following key elements of IT capability transformation:

Technical

Technical capabilities describe what a technology does. The rate of technological change can drive frantic cycles of change in technical capabilities, but often, it is critical to examine other transformation elements to realize the value of technical capabilities.

People

A people-oriented view of a capability focuses on an organization’s workforce, including indicators of an organization’s readiness for performing critical business activities, the likely results from these activities, and the benefit from investments in process improvement, technology and training.

Transitioning people requires understanding what roles, organizational structure and knowledge will be needed at each step along the transformation path.

Process

A process sharpens the view of an organizational capability. Formally calibrating process capabilities and maturity requires processes be defined in terms of purpose/objectives, inputs/outputs and process interfaces. One advantage of a process view is that it combines other transformation elements, including people (roles) and technology (support for the process).

Transitioning processes is more about adaptation – assuming the organization has defined processes to adapt. While new working methods associated with cloud computing—such as agile development and continual deployment—are driving ‘adaptive’ process techniques, an organization’s process capability will remain a fundamental and primary driver of organizational maturity.

Service

A service consciously abstracts the internal operations of a capability; its focus is on the overall value proposition. A service view of a capability is directly tied to value, since services—by definition, according to ITIL—are a “means of delivering value to customers by facilitating outcomes customers want to achieve without the ownership of specific costs and risks.”

As you assess your organization’s readiness for transformation, and create a roadmap specific to your organization, it’s essential that these transformation elements are understood and addressed.


John Worthington is a VMware transformation consultant and is based in New Jersey. Follow @jMarcusWorthy and@VMwareCloudOps on Twitter.

3 Key Trends for 2015: How to Keep Pace with the Rapidly Changing IT Landscape

craig dobsonBy Craig Dobson

So much happened in 2014, and as the New Year begins, I’m looking forward to finding out what 2015 holds—both from a market and an industry perspective. One thing is for certain: the rapid changes we have seen in our industry will continue into the New Year. In fact, the pace of change is likely to accelerate.

I believe the following key trends will be shaping the IT landscape of 2015:

  • Increased application focus
  • Continued movement from CapEx to OpEx models (embracing “x-as-a-Service”)
  • Heightened focus on accurate measurement of the cost-of-IT

Let’s explore these trends in a little more detail.

Application Focus

All throughout 2014 I have been hearing clients say: “it’s all about the application.” In the face of global competition and with the rise of disruptive startups testing the old school business models, the lines of business are seeking innovation, market differentiation, and quick response to changing market dynamics. They are driving IT—and all too frequently looking outside, to cloud-based solutions— to enable quick response to these dynamic changes, often at a lower entry cost.

In 2015, lines of business will prioritize and focus on the business applications that will support the goal of serving, winning, and retaining customers. Application portfolios will change to hybrid architectures that increasingly leverage x-as-a-service models. Supporting platform decisions (such as infrastructure and cloud) will be made based on application decisions. IT professionals will need to stay on top of evolving business applications in order to more effectively support the demands of the lines of business.

Moving from CapEx to OpEx

The appetite to consume anything-as-a-service from external providers has grown throughout 2014, and is now significantly shifting the IT funding model from three- to five-year CapEx investments to OpEx-based consumption models. This shift will accelerate in 2015, and will often be tied to shorter contract periods, with an increased focus on cost and an expectation of a continued improvement on cost-to-serve.

What is driving this change is a general acceptance by mainstream enterprise businesses and different levels of government (through policy changes) that cloud-based services make economic sense, combined with the fact that the business risk of consuming these services has decreased.

Accurate Measurement of the Cost-of-IT

With the shift from CapEx to OpEx models and the focus on the business value of the application lifecycle, the CIO will be under even more pressure to show value back to the lines of business. In 2015, with these new dynamics, and with IT moving to become a full broker of services or portfolio manager (for both internal and external services) delivering x-as-a-service capabilities, this change will demand a greater level of granular and real-time financial reporting at a service level for the consuming lines of business.

This increased financial awareness will provide the ability for IT to show value, offer apples-to-apples comparison between internal IT and external services, as well as comparison between suppliers.

In addition to the cost transparency measures, I believe we will also see an aggressive focus on driving down operational costs to allow the savings to be targeted at next-generation business applications.

Ready for 2015

Let’s face it — change is a given, and 2015 will be no exception for IT. Forward-thinking IT leaders will get ready to deliver applications that meet the dynamic demands of the business; x-as-a-service offerings that meet or exceed end-user requirements; and financial reporting capabilities that not only show end users what they’re paying for but also enable IT to quantify its value.


Craig Dobson is Senior Director of VMware Technical Services for the Asia Pacific region and is based in Sydney.

2014 in Review: Avoiding 3 Potential Potholes on the Road to ITaaS

 

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By Gene Likins

Focus on outcomes, not technology

As the New Year approaches, I find myself thinking about some of the lessons learned from 2014. Of course, IT executives are perennially interested in lowering costs, increasing security and control, and achieving superior service delivery—and 2014 was no exception.  However, the emergence of public clouds has given “rogue IT” new life and forced IT organizations to think about how to compete.   As a result, IT organizations are revisiting a concept that has been around for several years – Information Technology as a Service (ITaaS) to drive broad, deep IT transformation within their companies.

Urgency is a critical ingredient to change and transformation. Best practices almost always point to executive sponsorship, planning ahead, setting realistic expectations and getting a firm grasp of current state.  But when IT transformations fail or stall, what are some common culprits? Here are three to avoid if ITaaS is on your radar for 2015:

1. Resist the temptation to lead with organizational changes. When we see the potential advantages of ITaaS, many organizations want to move very quickly. Demands for speed and efficiency are driving near-universal experimentation with IT operating models and organizational designs. There are plenty of theoretical, future-state organizational models available from the various research companies.

However, proceed with caution. The CEB published a study around a new model for IT service delivery, which reported that:

  • Nine out of 10 CIOs have recently changed their model or structure or have plans to do so
  • The changes affect all IT sub-functions, with more than 70 percent of EA, infrastructure, security, and PMO groups undergoing or recently completing a redesign

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Source: CEB CIO Executive Board: The New Model for IT Service Delivery

That’s why it’s critical to take the time to build a framework around service definitions and establish an operating model for how services will be delivered. For example:

  • How will processes change and how will the operations look on “day two”?
  • Are you embracing a new technology and/or solution only to attempt to retrofit it into your current operational model?

Once you have developed a solid plan for these issues, the organizational structure and the detailed titles, roles, and skill sets will be quite obvious.

2. Reduce friction between service management and infrastructure. More and more frequently we’re seeing a lack of coordination in this regard. For example, does this sound familiar?

The infrastructure group develops a service and publishes it into the service catalogue. The service management team reviews it and determines it doesn’t meet the criteria of a service. Perhaps it’s not customer facing enough. Perhaps it’s not a robust enough service. Either way, it represents wasted time and frustration for both groups.

It’s important to understand what services are going to be offered and what resources are available to support them—and to ensure that all the parties are aligned in support of the service catalog. Service management and infrastructure are both a part of IT, it helps if there is greater communication and collaboration between the two functions.

3. Aggressively market and communicate IT success.  As IT takes a larger responsibility for high-level business outcomes, it’s more important than ever to build a formal IT marketing and communication plan with customized messages to sell BUs and other users on your services.

Alex Salicrup, VMware Transformation Architect, noted in his recent blog on IT Marketing that, “it’s very important that IT staff understand a unified vision/message. They should become active ambassadors of the IT brand and the services the team provides.”

The vision must be both ambitious and “strategically feasible.” Don’t be afraid to act like marketers with videos, go-live parties, prizes for focus groups, etc. It’s better to err on the side of being a little “corny” and gaining awareness rather than quietly being unnoticed.

Stay on the leading edge of ITaaS

As the concept of IT transformation moves beyond the “early adopter” stage and gains traction with a wider cross-section of companies, these red flags and best practices will continue to change and evolve. Stay tuned to this blog to find out what we identify as the year unfolds.

For more insight on the subject right now, refer to these posts:


Gene Likins is the Americas Director for VMware’s Accelerate Advisory Services

The Impact of ITaaS on Request Fulfillment

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By John Worthington

 Automation and standardization benefits IT…and the business

 

Advances in technology are rapidly enabling new levels of standardization, cost control, pre-authorization and automation far beyond traditional IT environments. This makes it possible to deliver IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS), with IT focusing on the outcomes the business needs and functioning much like a business itself. This is particularly true for change request fulfillment.

To boost efficiency, the request fulfillment function utilizes a library of pre-defined and pre-authorized service requests. This can include change requests that have been adequately standardized, but in traditional approaches, many change requests are too complex and risky to be effectively standardized. In these cases, requests need to be handled via the core change and release process, and manual provisioning to fulfill the request can take weeks.

ITaaS allows provisioning to be designed as a standard change that can be handled as a service request and automated via the service catalog management and request fulfillment process instead of via change and release management. This approach can reduce the time-to-provision to hours or even minutes—without involving IT staff.

ITaaS for request fulfillment is vitally important to the success of your organization

The impact of technology-enabled ITaaS on request fulfillment is broad-based and very significant to both the business and IT. In addition to vastly more efficient provisioning, other benefits include:

  • Automation of end-to-end delivery and management of infrastructure that allows IT staff to be more productive
  • Application deployment and releases that are accelerated
  • The ability to leverage re-usable components and policy-based governance that allows for right-sizing of resources or applications at the appropriate service level
  • The ability to manage multivendor, multi-cloud infrastructure and applications while leveraging existing infrastructure tools and processes flattens the learning curve
  • Reducing time-consuming, manual processes that results in consistent, automated delivery and management of IT services
  • Request fulfillment that can establish a library of request models for all users—both business and IT

While these are usually thought of as ‘IT benefits’ they also drive universal business objectives including faster time-to-market, reduced costs, better service levels, and accelerated innovation.

Benefits also include the impact on related processes such as change, release, incident, and access management. These might be such things as:

  • Reduction in the backlog of change requests
  • Enhanced customer satisfaction, perhaps tied to a specific request model
  • Reduction in the use of unauthorized hardware and software, non-standard and variant builds that increase complexity, support costs and risk to the business services
  • Fewer exceptions reported during configuration audits
  • Fewer incidents caused by request model errors (i.e., incorrect access settings, incorrectly executed fulfillment plan, etc.)

These metrics can be used to compliment base level metrics for request fulfillment depending on the focus of the request models added to the request catalog. As with all metrics, they should be linked to the critical success factors, objectives, and the goals that they support; this can help measure the benefits of improvements to the process.

Planning for success: key terms and roles

A transformation plan is critical as you look to leverage automated, on-demand cloud infrastructures. For example, accelerated ITSM can help bridge the gap between traditional infrastructures and cloud automation by clearly identifying how existing processes, roles, and governance will need to evolve as part of your implementation plan.

As you move forward you will also want to ensure that your team has a solid understanding of basic concepts as well as the increased role that request fulfillment will play in the design stage of the service lifecycle. Taking the time to understand and define some of the terms and roles involved can improve communication and coordination as you consider your ITaaS strategy:

  • The service catalog defines the end-to-end processes and supporting IT services that are available. The service catalog management process must ensure that any links and interfaces between the service catalog and the request catalog are maintained.
  • The request catalog lists available request models that can facilitate self-service for all users—including IT staff. The request fulfillment process must manage the library of request models and must assume ownership of the request catalog.

Request fulfillment and service catalog management

Figure 1. Relationship between request fulfillment and service catalog management

  • In an ITaaS approach, the number and complexity of request models may increase significantly. The request fulfillment manager must optimize the requests associated with IT services, and make them easier for customers to request, and more efficient for IT to fulfill. To that end, the request fulfillment process owner establishes what specifications must be captured for the request model during the design phase.
  • Service owners work with service catalog management to ensure that IT services are well defined, and that standard service requests being fulfilled are associated with the IT service for an easy request process and effective fulfillment. For example, the service owner is accountable for making sure the right subject matter expert is completing the specifications during design.

Ready for a change?

The benefits of an ITaaS approach to request fulfillment are many and far-reaching. But maximizing the benefits requires a studied approach to transformation. Carefully defining IT Services, Standard Service Requests and the supporting processes can help design a catalog architecture that meets your current and evolving requirements.


John Worthington is VMware Transformation Consultant with 30 years experience in the Information Technology industry. John’s been involved in IT Service Management since 2000, is an ITIL® Expert, and holds the PMP and CISA certifications. He is an accredited instructor for all levels of ITIL® certification, as well as a TIPA™ Lead Assessor.