Demystifying the Cloud – A Service Transition Perspective
A guide to some of the challenges being faced by leading organisations when integrating Cloud Services into their existing IT Service Model.
As most organisations evolve to adopt a new model for managing their IT services, many challenges are coming to light which conflict with the traditional IT delivery approaches of the past.
Here we will attempt to identify some of the challenges and concerns against the traditional IT Service model when adopting or moving to a Cloud based model.
What is the cloud?
It has been said “Cloud is the new norm”. No longer does an organisation need to contemplate managing their own infrastructure or applications. Have resources to manage data centers or host and maintain their own applications. Cloud services are a change to the long established way of providing Business Applications to the Business user community without having to create a specialist capability to support their own business tools.
An organization can return to focusing on delivering business change and capability to better respond to the customers need without the overhead over creating specialist teams to build and maintain infrastructure then test before rolling out the application layer. Only then to start developing their business benefits.
The cloud offers the attractive benefits for an organization to move away from hosting and managing their infrastructure and applications within their own datacenters.
The level of management, resources and building space an organisation no longer needs to be acquired and maintained to ensure they can keep their business running. Let alone the disruption of downtime to keep these internal systems up to date against Security threats.
Cloud services offer a more intelligent solution. From an infrastructure perspective, the cloud allows a company to do away with the traditional CAPEX costs of implementing and enabling their infrastructure. Cloud infrastructure is best described as offering an organization the ability to procure their infrastructure as a service.
Infrastructure As A Service or IaaS is a model of procuring your infrastructure from those who solely provide specialist expertise in Infrastructure. IaaS Cloud providers have standardized the infrastructure build and maintenance processes. Infrastructure resources can be selected and configured and enabled within minutes. New Environment can be built, brought up and when not needed, they can be shut down in seconds not days or weeks. And all this can be managed through the ongoing Opex costs.
This alluring prospect to standardizing infrastructure drastically reduces the amount of time to build therefore allowing an organization to effectively create and reduce the number of environments in no time at all. In addition the expertise to maintain these environments and infrastructure resides with subject matter experts who consistently maintain the operation and security of the standardized infrastructure. This ultimately leads to reliability.
From an application perspective, Cloud offerings exist and better known as SaaS – Software as a Service. These again are the Vendors themselves who are hosting and maintaining their own applications. Who better to understand their applications for providing analysis and high levels of SME knowledge and maintenance.
In both cases, the expertise remains with the vendor and various support option are then available for directly by them that integrate into an existing IT Support model.
Typically as confidence grown in Cloud services, the levels of support within an organisation can be refocused on providing more crucial hands on, interactive, functional and business process related support directly within an organization where it is often needed most.
The Cloud and ITIL
ITIL is a long established approach to organizing the traditional Operating model. ITIL versions 1, 2 and the latest version 3, defines a framework and provides guidance that can be interpreted and applied to an organisations Software Delivery Lifecycle. Operationally ITIL provides the cornerstone for managing key processes Incident, change etc.
From a Transition perspective, ITIL provides a way to manage the delivery of Application Development and infrastructure into operations ensuring not only business requirements but also operational requirements are met.
The introduction of a cloud service provider is exactly that. Better still think in terms of the cloud provider being another provider of a service within your existing support model. Despite its name the cloud provider is an external supplier to the existing IT support model and requires integration. As such the cloud service should be introduced into the organization in the same way as any new vendor. Following existing processes to transition the Cloud provider into the organization by means the definitions of services, Master Service agreements, contracts, and escalations, SLAs and integrating their support into your own.
The difference is that the cloud is a little more intrusion that a traditional supplier. The cloud provider is also hosting the business processes in their own datacenters and not yours. This seems to cause initial concern regarding exposer and compliance however quite often the cloud provider can achieve greater levels of security and availability than in-house managed service could achieve whilst being cost effective.
ITIL itself need to catch up. ITIL Version 4 is rumored to be on its way however it is unclear if specific guidance with caters for the changing world of cloud services. This may or may not be necessary depending on how you view it. As mentioned above the Cloud provider is just that. The introduction of the Cloud provider needs to consider the SLA and integration between the Business and cloud provider.
That being said, conflicts do exist which challenge the ITIL v3 model. The introduction of a cloud provider often bring with it a swifter way of delivering change too.
Agile, ITIL and the cloud
Most Cloud services are focused on delivering change quickly. They adopt the Agile delivery methodology and center around the DevOps model being key in delivering that change.
The traditional ITIL processes are deemed too slow and antiquated ways of delivering key business change. At this stage it seems a paradigm exists where the traditional IT model and DevOps need co-exist.
At this point changes are required to the ITIL approaches that are currently being explored. How best to integrate the DevOps, fast paced approach.
Conflicts mainly center around the change management approach and how the Traditional ITIL change reviews, change boards and forward scheduling are all lengths and are deemed to be the crux about why a customer can’t have their business change straight away.
Other areas of conflict exist between how we have been operating in a controlled manner under ITIL and the more risk-averse approach of DevOps.
So where’s the problem?
However all is not what it seems. Yes cloud brings with it change to an organization however as a new supplier this poses no real challenge at all.
The problems exist in the realization of the DevOps approach being preferred by development and the business as the better way. Changes are delivered quickly who can argue with that.
ITIL, Proinc2, MSP and other traditional Operational and Programme delivery methodologies are now being seen as slow and outdated however far more similarities exist when these methodologies exist side by side.
The roles and activities being performed in all software delivery lifecycles aim to achieve the same activities and perform the same outcomes. Instead of a business case, a set of requirements ad a business analyst, there’s an Epic, a Theme, a user story and a Product owner.
The cloud introduces nothing new. Using cloud services challenges the traditional Operational model. To fully adopt the cloud the DevOps approach seems to be the way forward.
An organization needs to change the way the not only deliver but also Operation their support to the business. The Operating models within the organization need to change. However these changes may not be as significant as they seem.
The support on model which is most familiar is the Level 1 to 4 model of managing it.
Demystifying the Cloud, By Pietro D’Angelo
Pietro D’Angelo is a seasoned ITIL Service Transition Consultant currently working for Assurance Programme Solutions Ltd, A partner to AWS. Pietro has witnessed the changes take place in recent years to the traditional ITIL model and been engaged in many workshops and consultations to address the challenges being faced by organisations as they consider the impacts of moving to the Cloud.