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What Do We Mean by IT Services in the Cloud Era?

By Kevin Lees

You hear it all the time from cloud evangelists: instead of delivering based on projects, IT should now be delivering around a common set of services.

It’s not a new idea—but cloud computing promises to finally make it a reality.

Before we get too excited, though, we should ask: what do we actually mean by cloud services? That’s not something cloud advocates always make clear.

So here’s an example:

The other week I was talking with a customer who runs a cloud that supports production dev test environments for a  government agency. These environments are in turn supporting mission-critical applications that play a major role in maintaining the public’s health.

From a service perspective, the tenant ops team is identifying and building a set of common development platforms as virtual applications. In this case each platform consists of three tiers, with each tier running a Windows operating system that’s been pre-built to meet government security policies. The composite platforms all have monitoring drivers already installed, and also feature commonly-used development environments – in this case they’re either a Microsoft dot-net type environment or Java-based.

Collectively, that creates a common virtual dev test vApp pre-built with a lot of the core capabilities and requirements to do this type of mission-critical application development. My customer’s team is then offering this multi-tier stack as a “service” via self-service on demand provisioning.

In the past, it could have taken two to three months to stand up something like this for a new round of development and testing. Now, with these prepackaged, common services, a new development environment can be deployed in less than an hour..

It’s a great example of how quickly you can provision, not only from infrastructure perspective, but so that developers don’t have to repeatedly start out with raw infrastructure and build-in all of their own environments.

This standardized, pre-packaged development environment can also be used across multiple development teams and even across multiple departments. Each may need to do some tweaking for their particular area, but it saves everyone an enormous amount of work.

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