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Tag Archives: IT service management

Cloud Services Definition

Part 3 of the Cloud Business Management Series

By Khalid Hakim, Kai Holthaus and Bill Irvine

Services DefinitionIn our last cloud operations business transformation blog, we talked about the cloud business strategy and its importance in formulating the vision and the plan as to how you want to run your cloud as a business. In today’s blog, the focus begins to shift to executing the strategy and laying out the foundations of a service-oriented and business-driven “operating model”.

There is a saying: you can’t manage what you can’t control, and you can’t control what you can’t define.  Imagine that you are planning to open a new business. The first step is to define what services/products you want to offer your consumers and what distinguishes your market value among the others. Similarly, cloud business management starts at this point. IT should identify and define what cloud services would be offered to its consumers in order to truly drive a services-oriented and value-driven organization.

Key Areas of Services Definition

VMware recommends a unique approach for defining cloud services, through which a service owner defines a 360-degree view of how the cloud services would be established, managed and delivered effectively and efficiently to meet or exceed the expected value. To paint this panoramic view, cloud service owners should consider the following areas:

  • Service Overview – describe the service in terms of its purpose, goals, consumers, criticality, availability criteria and rhythm of business.
  • Virtual Service Team – organize your team members around the services you deliver. Team up as a virtual service team.
  • Services Definition ChartService Chart – map out the end-to-end cloud service in a graphical representation that is easy to consume. The service chart helps to visually understand the core components of a service and contributes when costing services.
  • Service Portfolio and Consumer Management – the service portfolio answers the questions, who are our customers and why should they buy the service from us. It contains all of the service categories and the business units that consume them and aids with making informed “service” and “business” based investment decisions.
  • Service Design and Development – provide high level information about how the services will be designed and developed, especially if the service isn’t yet in production. This helps with understanding the customer business need and developing the most valuable solution possible.
  • Service Catalog Management – identify service catalog structure parameters and possible blueprints. Also, define what columns or key fields should be included in service catalog entries.
  • Service Level Management – define key SLA/OLA targets to ensure provisioning time and quality meets specific business needs.
  • Service Desk Management – describe how the service will be supported. Draft a plan for service-desk requirements, skills needed and required knowledge transfer.
  • Proactive Operations Management – define the service operation requirements for support and reliability from the event and performance monitoring to availability, demand, capacity, continuity and security management.
  • Provisioning and Change Management – define the service provisioning lifecycle and associated change management policies including how the service will be pre-approved and auto-provisioned (for maximum efficiency). New leaner change management workflow needs to defined / refined (i.e. standard changes).
  • Service Financial Management – define the service cost and charge back/ show back model along with pricing and connections to the service catalog.
  • Service Performance and KPIs – define any applicable service related strategic, tactical and operational performance indicators (KPIs), and the metrics that will be collected to demonstrate that required performance was achieved. Also define how and when the KPIs and metrics will be reported, and to whom.
  • Service Reviews – define service-based review meetings to discuss and remediate any operational or consumer related topics. Follow a standard cadence for all services. Discuss potential changes in demand for services. Capture new or enhanced service requirements.
  • Service Marketing – define the key applicable service marketing elements for a successful service promotion and value realization within different company cultures.

Now, how long do you think this exercise will take? In most of our engagements, defining a service takes between 1 to 2 weeks. It is never intended to fully document all the areas above immediately, or establish all of the processes, as many organizations don’t have this all of this information available. Think of the Service Definition as a living and breathing document. The service owner should establish a working draft, develop it to the point of release and then maintain in for its life as an active service offering. All undefined services are treated as areas for improvement.

In our next blog, we will take this to the next level as we learn to establish a cloud service-based cost model and cost out cloud services end-to-end.  This will enable you to understand the cost of a unit of a cloud and provide the required level of cost transparency internally and to consumers.

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Khalid Hakim is an IT Business/Financial Management Lead with the VMware Operations Transformation global practice. You can follow him on Twitter @KhalidHakim47.

Kai Holthaus is a Sr. Transformation Consultant with VMware Operations Transformation Services and is based in Oregon.

Bill Irvine is a Principal Strategist with VMware Accelerate Advisory Services and is based in Colorado.

Adopt Before You Adapt Your IT Processes

worthingtonp-cropBy John Worthington

Many people familiar with ITSM have heard the expression ‘adopt & adapt’ as a good practice, but it’s worth noting the order in which these words are placed. You must adopt before you can adapt. This leads to the question, when has a process been ‘adopted’?

Incomplete Process [i]

If a process doesn’t have a purpose, or if the process purpose is not understood by the organization, it is hard to consider it implemented. If a process is performed so inconsistently or irregularly over time or in different business units, that it does not systematically achieve its purpose, it has not been adopted.

At this level, more efforts are needed to adopt the process. This may require transitional change efforts that may include strategy, structures, and/or systems.

Performed Process

If the process achieves its purpose it’s normally considered ‘adopted’, even if the relative maturity is low. The organization understands the purpose of the process and there is evidence that the outcomes of the process are achieved, such as the production of a document, change of state or meeting a goal.

Reviewing the base practices associated with the process can help determine whether all the desired outcomes of the process are achieved, even if some specific outputs (i.e., work products) are not in evidence.

At this level of maturity, the process can be adapted and improved. This requires developmental change efforts; project plans that should communicate the changes and provide knowledge transfer to key stakeholders.

Why is this important?

When we are adapting multiple processes as part of an ITaaS or SDDC transformation, even a single incomplete process can significantly increase the scope of the effort. You cannot adapt what has not been adopted!

ITaaS Transformation and Established Processes

Incident Management is typically a process that has been adopted. For example, all these objectives[ii] may be met:

  • Process AdoptionEnsure that standardized methods and procedures are used for efficient and prompt response, analysis, documentation, ongoing management and reporting of incidents
  • Increase visibility and communication of incidents to business and IT support staff
  • Enhance business perception of IT through use of a professional approach in quickly resolving and communicating incidents when they occur
  • Align incident management activities and priorities with those of the business
  • Maintain user satisfaction with the quality of IT services

Even if the process documentation is not elaborate the process may be achieving its purpose and providing its expected outcomes. It’s not uncommon for organizations to have this process formally described, have trained practitioners, be well supported by tools and standardized across the organization. These would characterize this as Level 3 (Established) maturity.

In this case, vRealize Operations can integrate easily with the process (i.e., by automatically creating Incident records in the tool) as appropriate.

ITaaS Transformation and Incomplete Processes

In an ITaaS transformation, capacity management can be an example of an incomplete process. For example, the following objectives[iii] of capacity management may be difficult to achieve:

  • Produce and maintain an appropriate and up-to-date capacity plan, which reflects the current and future needs of the business
  • Ensure that service performance achievements meet all of their agreed targets by managing the performance and capacity of both services and resources
  • Assist with the diagnosis and resolution of performance and capacity related incidents and problems

If IT services are not well defined, if the problem management process is not established, or if the capacity management process is not well supported (by people and technology) then it is common that it would not meet Level 1 (Performed) requirements.

The use of vRealize Operations can address the technology process support requirements, but you will still need to define services to manage service performance and you will still need to establish problem management as a process in order to assist with capacity related problems. You may also need to establish roles associated with capacity and performance management that are not currently well defined in the organization.

[Note: it is not required that an ITIL-based process be in existence, but the process will still need to be considered performed (adopted) in order to adapt.]

Adopt or Adapt is not a matter of choice

You do not choose developmental, transitional or transformational change; you discover what change is required based on organizational demands[iv]. This is why assessment and discovery activities are so important. These activities make sure your implementation plans have the inputs needed to ensure a complete plan, and the appropriate developmental, transitional and/or transformational strategies.

In the examples provided, we can easily adapt the existing incident management process to ITaaS. However, there may be more work needed to establish capacity management and related processes. The level of effort needed to achieve this can vary significantly based on organizational requirements, objectives and your starting point.

Understanding this is key to establishing a transformation path that minimizes effort and maximizes the value out of the people, processes and technology — in other words, developing ITaaS organizational capabilities.

[i] Process Assessment and ISO/IEC 15504, Van Loon
[ii] ITIL© Incident Management
[iii] ITIL© Capacity Management
[iv] Beyond Change Management: How to Achieve Breakthrough Results Through Conscious Change Leadership, by Dean Anderson and Linda Ackerman Anderson

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

Building a Resilient Integration from Your Cloud to your IT Service Management Platform

Pierre Moncassin-cropBy Pierre Moncassin

In the vast majority of cloud implementations the integration between the self-service provisioning workflow and the configuration management system (CMS) will need to be addressed.

On the surface the use case is a ‘no brainer’. Once a cloud infrastructure service has been provisioned we want to ensure that the newly created configuration items are recorded in the CMS so that IT can support the new service. Incidents occurring in the newly created infrastructure need to be detected, managed and resolved.

In most cases the IT Operations team will be relying on an IT Service Management toolset for its day-to-day activities. In this typical scenario, we would need a technical integration between the provisioning workflow engine and the IT Service Management toolset.

In order to enable IT Support with Event and Incident Management, we need the newly created workloads (or applications) to be “visible” from the Service Management toolset. This means creating the configuration items in the service management toolset’s configuration management system (CMS). Vendors of service management tools have various approaches to their configuration management system, but in principle this will require the creation of configuration records in their CMS.

Here’s the simplified diagram:

Cloud ITSM Integration

However the range of integration scenarios is by no means limited to event/incident management. There is actually a broad range of possible scenarios including:

  • Change Management – tracking updates to the configuration items that have been created
  • Financial Management – being able to evaluate the cost of newly created item, which In turn will enable chargeback, billing and more broadly help meet the financial requirement
  • Compliance & security – being able to verify that the infrastructure meets corporate policy and security standards as appropriate
  • Business Continuity Management – ensuring resilience, disaster recovery, backups/archiving etc.

Given the number of possible use cases, it is important to decide early on which the key scenarios will be. Which processes do you want to enable as a priority?

That initial decision will drive the complexity of the technical integration, especially the number of parameters and values being passed around.

The Technical Side of Integration: Tools & Guidance

Fortunately when it comes to the technical side, there are many options to integrate VMware vRealize Operations into a third party tool. The typical avenue is to leverage the connectivity features of VMware vRealize Orchestrator.

On the other side of the integration, we will have an IT Service Management (ITSM) toolset (from vendors such as BMC, HP, CA, ServiceNow, and many others).

Here are some example resources for the some commonly used toolsets:

The integration workflow reflects the process requirements: typically, creating Configuration Items (CI’s) in the Service Management toolset and passing on CI information.

However one aspect that can be easily overlooked when first setting up the integration, is to build in resilience. For example, the ability for this integration to handle exceptions and errors.

Another key to resilience is to consider the operational aspects of the integration itself.

  • Maintenance is often where integrations fail over the long run – the organization lacks the resources or roles to keep the integration up to date. It is recommended to assign someone the responsibility for maintaining this integration.
  • The skills to maintain the integration may need to be developed and refreshed.

Your Take-Aways

These three angles must be covered to produce a robust integration SDDC-ITSM:

  • People: decide how your organization will maintain this integration for the long term (and who will maintain it). Ensure than the relevant skills (and knowledge) is retained to keep the integration up to date in the future.
  • Process: decide on the key process (use cases) for the integration – and document them.
  • Technology: Leverage exiting tools and know-how – no need to re-invent the wheel. Build in resilience early on: plan for exception handling, testing and future version upgrades early in the development of the technical integration.

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Pierre Moncassin is an operations architect with the VMware Operations Transformation global practice and is based in the UK.

How to Measure the Impact of Your IT Transformation

By Matt Denton

Matt_Photo1Generally when a company makes a decision to move in a new direction, a lot of analysis and rigor take place to ensure the decision is the right one. Business cases are created and vetted until everyone is in agreement and the project is approved. This is all great and necessary to kick off a new initiative. However, once the project is in motion, how often do we measure the results against the original business case to see if we are delivering on what the company expected?

Think about it. A project gets kicked off and everyone is heads down implementing the new changes and making sure they meet their deadlines. Going back to review a business case is usually not a priority and, quite frankly, who has the time? But at some point, senior leadership will ask for an analysis, and one will be created to meet that one-time request. Then, it is back to business as usual—until the next request comes along.

What if you could measure the impact IT transformation has on the business proactively and in real time? Projects become more meaningful. Employees can see how their work is impacting the business. Transformation begins to make sense and can be justified. This can be done if you take the time to generate key performance indicators and metrics ahead of time.

Start by asking the team these questions at the beginning of a project:

  1. Why are we doing this?
  2. What are we trying to improve?
  3. How will we measure it?
  4. What is our current state benchmark?
  5. What is our target?
  6. How will we impact the business if we reach our target state?
  7. Do we have data to measure progress?

What Metrics Matter Most?
Usually I see companies measure progress based on financial metrics. For example, did we save the company money? However, there are hundreds of metrics that relate to agility, cost, and quality. The key is to pick those that are most impactful to the processes you expect to improve as part of the transformation. These may not all be financially driven, but will still have a measurable impact on the business.

Below are some other areas where you can measure business impact:

  • IT financial management
  • Service level management
  • Demand management
  • Service desk management
  • Incident management
  • Problem management
  • Change management
  • Configuration management
  • Availability management
  • Continuity management
  • Release management
  • Capacity management
  • Security management

Some of the metrics that fall into these categories are what I refer to as the “hard to quantify” or “soft” benefits. These are generally thrown out or overlooked during the business case development. I believe that once you can quantify these, you can translate them into real benefits and measure their impact on the business.

Provided the data exists, I’ve been able to help many clients both track the metrics they decide to measure and demonstrate how they can show the impact IT transformation has on their company. By quantifying these metrics and showing the impact your improvements are making on the business, you will know at any given time if the changes you are undertaking are making a difference or if you are falling short of your expectations. And, you will also be able to identify if additional changes are required to meet the project’s objective.

Too often, I see clients lose focus on the reason they started a project. This is easy to do on long projects. People change roles, leadership changes, or other projects take priority. Putting metrics in place and understanding their impact on the business will help you maintain that focus. The qualitative data gathered during implementation and post implementation are important to measure the impact IT transformation has made on your business. The data you collect and analyze will begin to tell a story and allow you to make precise decisions on where additional improvements are needed to make the biggest impact.

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Matt Denton is a VMware transformation architect and is based in Wisconsin.

What Metrics Should Be Measured for Change Management?

By Kai Holthaus

kai_holthaus-cropThat, of course, depends (favorite answer of consultants everywhere…). As an IT executive, start by asking yourself what you want to achieve. Once you select a critical success factor (CSF), key performance indicator (KPI) or associated metrics and start to report on those metrics, you will see two types of behavior within your IT organization.

Most of your employees will want to be good team players, and they will work to meet the desirable metrics (and avoid undesirable ones). For example, if you start reporting on the number of changes implemented without proper authorization (which could be discovered through configuration audits), and you start disciplining staff for implementing changes without authorization, you will see the number of unauthorized changes go down (in most cases). However, you will also find that some staff will try to game the system by implementing changes without proper authorization, then making it look as if (in your tracking system) they’d had the authorization.

Also keep in mind, that metrics can have unintended consequences. Sticking with the example of tracking (and trying to reduce) the number of unauthorized changes, you may be surprised to see the backlog of changes waiting to be approved grow, because your approval process was not yet ready to handle all the change that was going on in your environment. So, it’s a good practice to be prepared to adjust your metrics accordingly. This also applies to metrics that have been in place for a while. If you have driven the number of authorized changes to zero, and have held it there for the last 12 months, you may want to consider adjusting your focus to other issues (but don’t lose sight completely…unauthorized changes can quickly creep back in).

Finally, make sure that you can actually measure the things you need to measure to report on CSFs and KPIs. Setting a goal of no unauthorized changes is laudable but will remain a goal until you have found a way to detect unauthorized changes.

To conclude, here are some examples of KPIs to consider for your change management process:
kai graphic

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Kai Holthaus is a transformation consultant with VMware Accelerate Advisory Services and is based in Oregon.

What Does It Mean for IT to Be Customer-Focused?

By John Worthington

worthingtonp-cropBy definition a service is a means of delivering outcomes that a customer wants to achieve, so it’s important not to forget where these outcomes originate in order for IT to be customer-focused.

Transforming IT from a technology-oriented to a services-oriented organization is at the heart of IT service management.  The “specialized organizational capabilities for delivering value to customers in the form of services” must be developed, refined, and continually improved with business outcomes in mind.

If IT is working well, with a true service orientation, your customer will see that:

  • IT actions align with the business, particularly in ways that help the business serve external business customers
  • IT costs are controlled and reduced wherever possible
  • Quality of end-to-end IT services is improved
  • IT agility in responding to business needs is improved
  • IT is focused on customer results
  • Prioritization of IT expenditures and actions is based on business priorities

For the IT organization, this service orientation starts with defining what constitutes a “service” in the context of the particular business and cataloging all the services available. Then the resulting service catalog, and the full service portfolio of which it is a part, become the means of ensuring that IT and the business are always completely in synch around IT services and their value.

What your customers want from IT
When I work with IT organizations that are building their initial catalog of services, I’m interested to see who views whom as the “customer.”  This is fundamental, however, since it is IT’s customer who defines value.

Frequently, service definition work is driven between particular IT groups, which can essentially put the entire effort within the boundaries of the IT organization, as illustrated in Figure 1.  This can result in an internally focused view of the customer/supplier relationship.  The focus is on supporting services, and parts of the IT organization itself end up being treated as “customers” of other parts of IT.

Figure 1 – Supporting Service Focus

Undoubtedly supporting services are important, since these are the building blocks that provide the capabilities that enable the customer-facing, outcome-oriented services.  But they are not what the business is ultimately concerned with.  Enumerating supporting services does not provide for the benefits the business expects – surely we don’t intend the service catalog to be limited to the IT organization!

Another approach I see my clients commonly take is to begin defining services that face the internal customers — the business — which establishes service catalog boundaries within the enterprise as illustrated in Figure 2.  Services are defined as what IT does for the business itself, without reference to the external customers of the business.

Figure 2 – Internal Customer Focus

This approach reflects a critical step in the evolution of an IT organization’s maturity as a service provider.  IT has begun to look at customer outcomes, with the customer being the business the IT organization serves.  I believe such an approach can lead to a more coordinated, collaborative way of working within IT; the various IT groups focus their attention on end-to-end service provisioning, not merely on their own IT silos.

So while initial service catalogs often start with the existing applications and infrastructure and package that for customers, a best practice approach that I recommend is to begin with the outcomes that customers desire and define services based on them as illustrated in Figure 3.

Figure 3 – External Customer Focus

The truth is, there will need to be multiple cycles of service definition and re-definition that need to continue indefinitely, since customers’ desired outcomes and perceptions are under constant change.

Defining services from the top down, starting with external services, is also a recommended approach. But this is easier said than done, since it quickly exposes a need to define both internal customer-facing services and supporting services.

Accelerating the journey to IT as a Service
This is the exciting part of being part of VMware. By establishing re-usable supporting IT services enabled by a software-defined data center and transformation road maps that make sure people and process changes are in place to realize the IT-as-a-service vision, I can help the IT organizations I work with to accelerate their ability to be truly customer-focused.


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