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Monthly Archives: February 2015

4 Steps to Better Market Your Cloud Services

By Alberto Martinez

Alberto Martinez-cropSuccessful cloud providers invest in marketing their services: promoting them, showing the value to customers, implementing strong pricing campaigns—and they understand how to rapidly adapt to changing market demands. But what prevents your internal IT organization from defining an effective marketing strategy to be more competitive and foster your cloud investments? And more importantly, how should you approach this effort to ensure success?

When moving to a cloud environment, most of the IT organizations that I work with focus on defining processes such as provisioning, support, or capacity, but forget about how to market the services they will be delivering and communicate their value to their customers. The same IT organizations end up with a private cloud infrastructure without clear target customers or, even worse, their cloud services are not used by the lines of business, resulting in a poor return on investment (ROI).

To realize the full ROI that enterprises are looking for from their cloud investments, the IT organization needs to drive the uptake of those services and persuade the lines of business away from using external service providers (shadow IT) or alternative legacy internal service provision options.

In order to mitigate those situations and increase their integration with the business, I advise my clients to define a consistent approach—as outlined below—to market their (internal or external) cloud services.

Defining Your Cloud Services Marketing Strategy
The approach to defining a cloud service marketing strategy must be innovative and not follow the traditional approaches. You need to apply a special focus on your customers in order to build a stronger relationship between your IT organization and the lines of business. That innovative approach has to contain similar characteristics as those of your cloud environment —simple and agile while powerful and impactful.

Below are four steps your IT organization can follow when defining a cloud services marketing strategy:

4 steps

  1. Define a service marketing strategy. As an essential initial activity, the key elements of the marketing strategy have to be defined with your CIO and leverage the expertise of your CMO and his/her marketing organization (experience, models, tools, and so forth). Those elements include market research, branding, pricing, differentiation, and competition.
  2. Create a communications plan. As my colleague Alex Salicrup wrote recently in this blog, communication is the key pillar to a successful IT provider. Define an effective communications plan for your cloud that will communicate its unique value to your customers and why they have to believe that differentiation is real (“reason to believe”). Your plan must define at a minimum what information will be communicated, how it will be communicated, as well as when it will be distributed and to which audience. Always keep in mind to exclude any technical information from the marketing materials.
  3. Develop marketing campaigns. One mechanism to create new favorable consumer perceptions of your cloud services is the marketing campaign. When developing tailored campaigns, you must identify what you are expecting from the campaign, what your customers can expect, what the impact will be on the audience, and how you will measure success. Measuring the success of your marketing campaigns is key to knowing the impact they had on your targeted audience.
  4. Measure. Benchmark your cloud environment against your competition, and set achievable actions to improve the value to business (always provide the best to your customers!).

Bridging the Gap Between the Cloud and Marketing Organizations

Establishing an IT services marketing capability is not just about defining the above steps—it’s also about your people in your organization and how they will execute upon those activities. To be successful, you need a strong integration between your IT organization and the marketing organization at two levels:

  1. Executive level: While defining the marketing strategy for your cloud environment, both your CIO and CMO have to work in tandem to ensure consistency with the business strategy. This will lead to the cloud services vision or value proposition, its unique value including differentiating factors, and the four steps previously described.
  2. Departmental lead/individual contributor level: Once you have defined your strategy, your IT organization—through cloud tenant operations—will have to work together with at a minimum two teams: 1) the marketing communications team to execute your cloud services communications plan, and 2) with the field marketing team to develop the marketing campaigns and success measurements.

Bridging the gap between the IT and marketing organizations will encourage an open environment of collaboration. I recommend to assign champions to integrate both areas, whose responsibility will be to support the promotion of the cloud services whilst leveraging the IT organization´s functions and expertise.

In summary, an effective cloud services marketing strategy promotes the value of your services and drives the adoption of those services within the lines of business. Start your effort early and with a consistent approach, so you can compete effectively against other cloud providers and achieve the ROI the business is looking for from its cloud investments.

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Alberto Martinez is an operations architect with the VMware Operations Transformation global practice and is based in Spain.

How to Take Charge of Incident Ticket Ping Pong

By Pierre Moncassin

Pierre Moncassin-cropWhen incident tickets are repeatedly passed from one support team to another, I like to describe it as a “ping pong” situation. Most often this is not a lack of accountability or skills within individual teams. Each team genuinely fails to see the incident as relevant to their technical silo. They each feel perfectly legitimate in either assigning the ticket to another team, or even assigning it back to the team they took it from.

And the ping pong game continues.

Unfortunately for the end user, the incident is not resolved whilst the reassignments continue. The situation can easily escalate into SLA breaches, financial penalties, and certainly disgruntled end users.

How can you prevent such situations? IT service management (ITSM) has been around for a long while, and there are known mitigations to handle these situations. Good ITSM practice would dictate some type of built-in mechanisms to prevent incidents being passed back and forth. For example:

  • Define end-to-end SLAs for incident resolution (not just KPIs for each resolution team), and make each team aware of these SLAs.
  • Configure the service desk tool to escalate automatically (and issue alerts) after a number of reassignments, so that management becomes quickly aware of the situation.
  • Include cross-functional resolution teams as part of the resolution process (as is often done for major incident situations).

In my opinion there is a drawback to these approaches—they take time and effort to put in place; incidents may still fall through the cracks. But with a cloud management platform like VMware vRealize Suite, you can take prevention to another level.

A core reason for ping pong situations often lies in the team’s inability to pinpoint the root cause of the incident. VMware vRealize Operations Manager (formerly known as vCenter Operations Manager) provides increased visibility into the root cause, through root cause analysis capabilities. Going one step further, vRealize Operations Manager gives advance warning on impending incidents—thanks to its analytical capabilities. In the most efficient scenario, support teams are warned of the impending incident and its cause, well ahead of the incident being raised. Most of the time, the incident ping pong game should never start.

Takeaways:

  • Build a solid foundation with the classic ITSM approaches based on SLAs and assignment rules.
  • Leverage proactive resolution, and take advantage of enhanced root cause analysis that vRealize Operations Manager offers via automation to reduce time wasted on incident resolution.


Pierre Moncassin is an operations architect with the VMware Operations Transformation global practice and is based in Taipei. Follow @VMwareCloudOps on Twitter for future updates.

 

4 Ways to Maximize the Value of VMware vRealize Operations Manager

By Rich Benoit

Benoit-cropWhen installing an enterprise IT solution like VMware vRealize Operations Manager (formerly vCenter Operations Manager), supporting the technology implementation with people and process changes is paramount to your organization’s success.

We all have to think about impacts beyond the technology any time we make a change to our systems, but enterprise products require more planning than most. Take, for example, the difference between installing VMware vSphere compared to an enterprise product. The users affected by vSphere generally sit in one organization, the toolset is fairly simple, little to no training is required, and time from installation to extracting value is a matter of days. Extend this thinking to enterprise products and you have many more users and groups affected, a much more complex toolset, training required for most users, and weeks or months from deployment to extracting real value from the product. Breaking it down like this, it’s easy to see the need to address supporting teams and processes to maximize value.

Here’s a recent example from a technology client I worked with that is very typical of customers I talk to. Management felt they were getting very little value from vRealize Operations Manager. Here’s what I learned:

  • Application dashboards in vRealize Operations Manager were not being used (despite extensive custom development).
  • The only team using the tool was virtual infrastructure (very typical).
  • They had not defined roles or processes to enable the technology to be successful. outside of the virtual infrastructure team.
  • There was no training or documentation for ongoing operations.
  • The customer was not enabled to maintain or expand the tool or its content.

My recommendations were as follows, and this goes for anyone implementing vRealize Operations Manager:

  1. Establish ongoing training and documentation for all users.
  2. Establish an analyst role to define, measure and report on processes and effectiveness related to vRealize Operations Manager and to also establish relationships with potential users and process areas of vRealize Operations Manager content.
  3. Establish a developer role to create and modify content based on the analyst’s collected requirements and fully leverage the extensive functionality vRealize Operations Manager provides.
  4. Establish an architecture board to coordinate an overall enterprise management approach, including vRealize Operations Manager.

The key takeaway here: IT transformation isn’t a plug-and-play proposition, and technology alone isn’t enough to make it happen. This applies especially to a potentially enterprise-level tool like vRealize Operations Manager. In order to maximize value and avoid it becoming just another silo-based tool, think about the human and process factors. This way you’ll be well on the way towards true transformational success for your enterprise.

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Rich Benoit is an Operations Architect with the VMware Operations Transformation global practice.

Building Service-based Cost Models to Accelerate Your IT Transformation

By Khalid Hakim

“Why is this so expensive?”

As IT moves towards a service-based model, this is the refrain that IT financial managers often hear. It’s a difficult question to answer if you don’t have the data and structure that you need to clearly and accurately defend the numbers. Fighting this perception, and building trust with the line of business, requires a change in how IT approaches cost management that will match the new IT-as-a-service format.

The first and most important step in building service-based cost models is defining what exactly a service is, and what it is not. For example, the onboarding process: is this a service, a process, or an application? Drawing the lines of what service means within your organization, and making it consistent and scalable, will allow you to calculate unit costs. Businesses are already doing cost management by department, by product, by technology, but what about the base costs, such as labor, facilities, or technology within a software-defined data center? Your final service cost should include all these components in a transparent way, so that other parts of the business can understand what exactly they are getting for their money.

Building these base costs into your service cost requires an in-depth look into how service-to-service allocation will work. For example, how do you allocate the cost of the network, which is delivered to desktops, client environments, wireless, VPN, and data centers? Before you can start to bring in a tool to automate costing out your services, map out how each service affects another, and define units and cost points for them. While it’s often tempting to jump straight into service pricing and consider yourself done once it’s complete, it’s important to start with a well defined service catalog, including costs for each service, then to continue to manage and optimize once the pricing has been implemented. Service costing helps to classify your costs, to understand what is fixed, what is variable, direct, indirect, and so forth.

So we’ve allocated the shared cost (indirect cost in accounting language) of services across the catalog. Now it’s time to bring in the service managers—the people who really understand what is being delivered. Just as a manufacturing company would expect a product manager to understand their product end to end, service managers should understand their entire service holistically. Once you’ve built a costing process, the service manager should be able to apply that process to their service.

In the past, service managers have really only been required to understand the technology involved. Bringing them into this process may require them to understand new elements of their service, such as how to sell the service, what it costs, and how to market it. It helps to map out the service in a visual way, which helps the service managers understand their own service better, and also identifies the points at which new costs should be built into the pricing model. Once you understand the service itself, then decide how you want to package it, the SLAs around it, and what the cost of a single unit will be. When relevant, create pre-defined packages that customers will be able to choose from.

SCP white paper coverOnce the costing has been implemented, you can circle back and use the data you’re gathering to help optimize the costs. This is where automation can offer a lot of value. VMware Realize Business (formerly IT Business Management Suite) helps you align IT spending with business priorities by getting full transparency of infrastructure and application cost and service quality. At a high level, it helps you build “what if” cost models, which automatically identify potential areas for cost reduction through virtualization or consolidation. The dashboard view offers the transparency needed to quickly understand cost by service and to be able to justify your costs across the business.

Service-based cost models are a major component of full IT transformation, which requires more than just new technology. You need an integrated approach that includes modernization of people, process, and technology. In this short video below, I share some basic steps that you need to jumpstart your business acumen and deliver your IT services like a business.

For more in-depth guidance, you can also access my white paper: Real IT Transformation Requires a Real IT Service Costing Process, as a resource on your journey to IT as a service.

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Khalid Hakim is an operations architect with the VMware Operations Transformation global practice and is based in Dallas. You can follow him on Twitter @KhalidHakim47.