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The Lifecycle of Cloud Services

For this update, I’d like to step away from the purely technical areas of vCAT and talk about some operational process areas that I’m spending some time on at the moment.

Within the Operating a VMware vCloud document of vCAT 3.0 we talk about Service Lifecycle Management. From a high level, I’d like to build on this and start identifying the steps required to get a standardized service available to our customers and who’s responsible for each step.

What does the customer want?

Depending on your cloud model, if you’re offering a cloud with a level of end-customer service, then there should probably be a Customer Relationship Manager in place for your customers, or at the very least for the major customers who are active users of your cloud. This Customer Relationship Manager will know and understand the needs that the customer has for the cloud and it’s services. It’s those customer needs that will drive the next services to be offered from your cloud, as they are the ones with the business focus and the problems that the cloud will help solve. Remember, internal IT is now a Cloud Provider in a competitive market and is competing with other external Cloud Providers for your customers Cloud services. IT now needs to start focusing on providing Business Services rather than on supplying IT.

Create Cloud Service Roadmap Based on Need

The Cloud service portfolio needs to take on these customer needs, and it will be the Portfolio Manager who will require a process for taking these customer needs from all of the Customer Relationship Managers and determine their applicability. By performing this function, the Portfolio Manager is able to identify common requests for services from multiple customers.  They can then create a prioritized list of potential services to be offered based on demand and function. This list will form the basis of the cloud services roadmap that IT will be offering to their customers and should be shared with these customers.

Take Ownership of the Service

At the point that a service on the roadmap is to be created, a service owner should be identified who will be responsible for the service from this moment forward. This service owner will be responsible for the evolution of the service, from detailed requirements gathering, to its design, development, release, ongoing support and finally its retirement.

Add the Service to the Cloud Service Catalog

At the point that the decision is made by the Service Owner to start developing the service, the service catalog will need to be updated with the services current status. Ideally the service catalog, service portfolio and the self-service portal will all be connected so the transition of a service through its lifecycle can be automated, thus reducing the potential for inaccuracies.

Develop the Service

The development of the service should be undertaken utilizing a blueprinting approach. This will provide the benefit of speeding up the development cycle, as well as increasing reliability as standardized, repeatable and approved blueprints are being used.

Release the Service

On completion of the development cycle, the next phase is to go through the testing/QA/Release cycle to eventually have the service released into the cloud self-service portal thus making the service live. The Service Owner is now responsible for the ongoing support and availability of this service being offered.

When is it Time to Retire the Services?

Finally, the Customer Relationship Manager, Service Owner and Portfolio Manager will perform continued assessment of the service offering until the point comes when the customers no longer require the service. At that point the retirement of the service will need to be undertaken with the service being removed from the service catalog and the self-service portfolio.

So from a high level, this is the lifecycle for cloud services. In further articles, I’ll talk about each stage in more detail.

Please post a comment if you have any questions or if you have suggestions.