By Choong Keng Leong
Many organizations on their journey to delivering IT as a service have chosen to adopt and implement VMware vCloud® Automation Center™ to automate the delivery and management of IT infrastructure and services through a unified service catalog and self-service portal. As this transformation requires a new IT operating model and change in mindset, a common challenge that IT organizations encounter is:
- How do I define and package IT services to offer and publish on the service catalog?
This is analogous to a mobile operator putting together a new mobile voice and data plan that the market wants and pricing it attractively.
Here’s a possible approach to designing a service catalog for vCloud Automation Center implementation.
Service catalog is the new face of IT. It is a communication platform and central source of information about the services offered by IT to the business. It is also empowering users through an intuitive self-service portal that allows them to choose, request, track, and manage their consumption and subscription to IT services.
The first step to developing the service catalog and identifying the services within it is to understand the business requirements as to how these demands are going to be fulfilled — that is to develop a service model. For example, you could start with a business function — Sales — and then pick a business process — client relationship management (CRM). CRM can be further broken down into three domains: operational CRM, collaborative CRM, and analytical CRM. Each of the CRM systems can be instantiated in different environments (product, test, and development). Each instance is technically implemented and delivered via a three-tier system architecture. What you would get is shown below in Figure 1, which is a service model for CRM.
Repeat the above steps for the other business functions. At the end of the exercise, you have defined service categories, catalog items, and service blueprints for implementation of a service catalog and self-service portal in vCloud Automation Center.
Using the above business centric approach allows you to define a customer-friendly service catalog of business services. The service categories and catalog items are in business-familiar terms, and only relevant information is presented to the business user so as not overwhelm him/her with the complexities of the underlying technologies and technicalities.
The business services are provisioned using service blueprints, which are templates containing the complete service specifications, technical service levels (e.g., RTO, RPO, and IOPS), and infrastructure (e.g., ESXi cluster, block or file storage, and network). The service blueprints allow IT to automate provisioning through vCloud Automation Center. To maximize business benefits and optimization of infrastructure resources, it is also important to establish a technical service catalog of technical capabilities and to pool infrastructure resources with similar capabilities. Then, vCloud Automation Center can provision a service via the service blueprint to the most cost-effective resource pool and providing optimal performance.
In summary, using a business-centric approach to designing your service catalog elevates IT to speaking in business terms and provides a whole new IT experience to your users.
Choong Keng Leong is an operations architect with VMware Professional Services and is based in Singapore. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.