Tag Archives: cloud

Transforming IT Services Starts With a Culture Shift

By: Kevin Lees

It’s happening. In place of their traditional, project- and technology-based approach, IT organizations really are making the shift to deliver IT as a service.

My last post examined what an IT service looks like in practice. But what if you’ve only gone as far as deciding that you need to transform IT? How do you act on that decision?

Your first priority, I’d argue, is to understand how functional silos create an anchor for your organization’s culture, and how that may be your biggest barrier to change. That’s what I’ll be looking at here. In part 2, I’ll suggest a solution for specific organizational changes that address the culture shift problem.

Changing Minds to Change Behavior

For context, here’s the IT model you’re leaving behind: a project request comes in with specific technology or capacity requirements. You procure the infrastructure and build a custom environment and then turn that over to the development team (which is often really a back and forth affair between Dev and Ops, where the final solution doesn’t really look like the initial request). When the new capability is moved into production, you take over the management and maintenance of that application and underlying infrastructure environment.

Here’s where you’re going: well before you get any requests, you build an environment that can be reused across many different development teams. You deliver that environment as a highly standardized service that’s a best fit for all the teams you serve. They request and deploy on demand with little or no IT Ops involvement in the deployment. Developers can customize their deployment to some degree, by selecting from a small set of highly standardized service options or configuration choices.

Leaving the one behind and moving to the other requires new software tools, as well as hardware that can handle the demands of a pooled resource environment. But the real transformation is a shift in mindset. And it’s one that can be hugely challenging for an IT group to both make initially and sustain over time.

I’ve seen this at many IT groups I work directly with. The fact that “It’s just not the way we’ve done things in the past” in itself becomes the obstacle to change.

Breaking Structural Bonds

Team A, for example, has always done their thing and then handed it off to team B who does their thing, who hands it off to the next team. Even with carefully crafted swim lane diagrams, phase gate checklists, and continuous process improvement – it can literally take months to deploy an environment for a development team.

Over time, large IT organizations build a series of silos that  develop deep expertise to facilitate that process: a network silo, a security silo, a storage silo, and so on.  They optimize the steps and sub-optimize the process.

But you’re now looking to move to a situation where everyone works in a much more integrated way: together and not sequentially. After all, with a cloud services-oriented operation, things happen so fast and in such an integrated way that trying to work within the context of these silos and linear processes does nothing but slow the process down, which defeats the whole purpose of making the change.

So for change to happen, the silos have to go.

Fear, Uncertainty . . .  a Plan

Propose ditching silos, though, and people immediately start fearing for their own job security. They won’t know what it will take to do well anymore – deepening expertise was a well worn path to recognition, certifications and a raise. Talk of breaking down this structure conjures in them that awful trinity: fear, uncertainty, doubt.

It’s an understandable reaction and it’s important to anticipate and plan for. But you now know 1) what you want and 2) what you’re up against. You’re ahead of the game.

It is time to own the problem!

In my next blog post, I’ll outline a concrete set of actions that will help you successfully change your organizational culture – reengingeering your Ops team to dynamically deliver services to end customers through a cloud infrastructure.

For future updates, be sure to follow @VMwareCloudOps on Twitter and use the #CloudOps and #SDDChashtags to join the conversation.

Additional Resources

View Kevin Lees webcast 5 Key Steps to Effective IT Ops in a Hybrid World for more information about specific changes that can help IT be more service-oriented.

Reaching Common Ground When Defining Services – Join Us For #CloudOpsChat!

An optimized service definition process can make or break the success of hybrid clouds or Software-Defined Data Centers (SDDC). But even if you have tools and processes in place to enable automated provisioning, you still need key stakeholder agreement on the makeup of standard services and resource configurations.

  • Standardized services need to meet the needs of those who request and consume the services.  But they also need to make sense to those in IT responsible for both automation that delivers the services and ongoing support.
  • Standardization helps increase flexibility at the business process level. But rigid service definitions can also inhibit those who both consume and deliver the services.

So how can you meet the needs of multiple groups and find common ground when it comes to defining services?

Find out by joining our next #CloudOpsChat on “Reaching Common Ground When Defining Services” taking place on Thursday, May 30th at 11am PT.

The event will be co-hosted by two CloudOps pros who have helped multiple VMware customers reach common ground:

  • John Dixon, Consulting Architect at GreenPages (see John’s posts on GreenPages Journey to the Cloud blog)
  • Khalid Hakim, Cloud Operations Architect at VMware

During the chat, we will answer the tough questions:

  • What service components should be included in a standard service definition?
  • What components can be flexible for modification around the edges?
  • Are there obvious points of abstraction that help balance standardization and flexibility?
  • Are there recommended approaches to getting multiple groups of users to reach consensus?
  • Are there recommended approaches to balancing the needs of both IT and service consumers?
  • What happens if key stakeholders don’t reach consensus?

Here’s how to participate in #CloudOpsChat:

  • Follow the #CloudOpsChat hashtag (via TweetChatTweetGrid, TweetDeck, or another Twitter client) and watch the real-time stream.
  • On Thursday, May 30th at 11am, @VMwareCloudOps will pose a few questions using the #CloudOpsChat hashtag to get the conversation rolling.
  • Tag your tweets with the #CloudOpsChat hashtag. @reply other participants and react to their questions, comments, thoughts via #CloudOpsChat. Engage with each other!
  • #CloudOpsChat should last about an hour.

In the meantime, feel free to tweet at us at @VMwareCloudOps with any questions you may have. We look forward to seeing you in the stream!