Kevin LeesOrganizing for the CloudBy Kevin Lees

An updated version of my “Organizing for the Cloud” white paper is now available.

The update to the white paper was based around a major update to our service-oriented operating model, which we use to help our customers optimize the way they deliver services in a VMware supported environment with VMware-supported tools. The model update is based on customer feedback along with our direct experience working with customers over the last couple of years and falls into the following areas:

  • Replacing Cloud Infrastructure Ops and Cloud Tenant Ops by Cloud Service Teams
  • Expanding Roles to include specialization
  • Emphasis on creating a collaborative and agile service oriented culture

Changes to the Cloud Service Teams

When the primary focus for IT was delivering Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), concentrating the organizational model on Cloud Infrastructure Ops and Cloud Tenant Ops was appropriate. IaaS is now seen as table stakes. Our customers are moving beyond IaaS to define and deliver higher value services to their business customers, like Digital Workspace as a Service and Data Analytics as a Service as well as even expanding Platform as a Service to a more comprehensive DevOps as a Service.

To build and support these next generation services, customers should build a Cloud Service Team that is wholly accountable and responsible for the lifecycle of their service. Cloud Tenant Ops is, therefore, replaced by a collection of Cloud Service Teams focused on the lifecycle of their respective services. Cloud Infrastructure Ops is Cloud Service Team responsible for Cloud Infrastructure Services.

Expanding Roles to Include Specializations

While using ecosystem “champions” as a mechanism for breaking down functional silos remains a key concept in “Organizing for the Cloud,” we did expand core team roles to include specialization. For example, as VMware NSXTM continues to gain incredible traction as a core Software Defined Datacenter and multi-cloud enabling technology, we expanded roles on the Cloud Infrastructure Services team to explicitly include network and security specializations of existing roles. This need is equally true across all Cloud Service Teams. By the very nature of defining, delivering, and operating more complex services, such as Data Analytics as a Service, roles specific to supporting those services are required.

Collaborative and Agile Service Oriented Culture

The biggest challenge our customers face when transforming IT to be more service oriented  is overcoming the entrenched IT culture. Becoming service oriented requires an IT mind-set shift not only in how it interacts with its customers but also how it functions internally.

Much can be learned from the DevOps concept which is, at its core, a mind-set shift in how IT and application development teams work together. These same cultural concepts apply to IT and how it approaches the way it defines, develops, delivers, and manages the services it offers. The Organizing for the Cloud whitepaper includes a treatment of the key cultural changes related to becoming service oriented, collaborative, and leveraging an Agile-based approach to service delivery.

It’s very likely that this will not be the last time the Organizing for the Cloud whitepaper is updated.  The ubiquity and flexibility of service delivery in the cloud environment continues to evolve, dramatically impacting the very nature of IT, how it interacts with its customers, and the impact it can have on the digital business. The “only constant is change” and Organizing for the Cloud will continue to be updated based on our experience working with customers as they undergo their transformations.


Kevin Lees is the field Chief Technologist for IT Operations Transformation at VMware, focused on how customers optimize the way they operate VMware-supported environments and solutions. Kevin serves as an advisor to global customer senior executives for their IT operations transformation initiatives and leads the IT Transformation activities in VMware’s Global Field Office of the CTO.