Cloudifying IT through ITIL

For those who are stuck keeping their networks running, analyzing event logs, or implementing IT Gangnam style, ITIL may be a curse word, if it even exists in the vocabulary. When I first began directing the information services of an organization, frameworks seemed like bureaucracy that would delay implementation times, strangle innovation, and hinder improvement. In my defense, I came from a VAR world where I was tasked to do the heavy lifting or fighting fires, there was but a small portion of a lifecycle that ACTUALLY participated in. I look back today and see some pitfalls I should have avoided.

I think that personality drives how we handle projects and services. For the cautious and meticulous, ITIL is a welcome friend, for people who are “decisive”, and fast paced, well ITIL and I … let’s just say we didn’t get along.

Those feelings can begin to change in an organization that has experienced rapid growth and dramatic changes and are now reaching maturation.  Those types of departments can find that resources are stretched thin and as the shift from project oriented tasks moves toward maintenance tasks, IT managers begin to pull their hair out. This is where stressed IT departments and stretched work hours for the staff translate into Cloud based opportunities for offloading workloads. So where does ITIL fit in?

I have been noticing a great deal of Cloud management and sales positions asking for ITIL v3 Foundation certifications. I caught myself asking why, and I think I stumbled on the answer. In the late stages of a maturing IT organization, IT managers begin searching for ways to reign it all in. After they have brought the infrastructure up to speed, they then begin to align their IT goals with lines of business. They try to make a shift to help enhance business rather than just supporting it. After searching for ways to do that they will likely come back to a framework (at least that is how it happened for me) and ITIL is one of the more standardized and accepted frameworks for IT services delivery and lifecycle available.

At its heart, ITIL asks departments to define their services; what are you offering your users? We build little objects that define who our stakeholders are, what the service delivers, what the service consumes, how well the service works, and who is responsible for the service. By building blocks of services, we can begin to see how our services interact and (drumroll please) abstract services from the organization itself. That is why cloud companies want folks on the front lines knowledgeable in ITIL. By containerizing services we can compare, in an apples-to-apples way our services and the cloud version of those services.

KPI’s, or Key Performance Indicators are a common language or set of metrics whereby these comparisons can be made. How much does a service cost? How reliable is it? How much time does it take to maintain? All these metrics should be available to both the IT department and the cloud vendor for their own respective services. The problem is, without a framework of some sort, many organizations have absolutely no idea what the line item details are for any of their most mission critical systems, much less their ancillary support systems.

There is far more to ITIL than simply defining services, it consists of Service Strategy, Service Design, Service Transition, Service Operation, and Continual Service Improvement. It is essential for organizations to understand that business operations and IT systems meet together somewhere, and in that somewhere they must play nice. In most of today’s modern companies, every operational process is supported by an information system. In the best of today’s companies, that relationship is enhanced by both sides working in tight coordination to ensure that greater value can be delivered to the organizations customers. Cloud service providers are looking to plug themselves in, and if positioned properly, deliver value much easier to organizations which have adopted ITIL due to the common ground achieved through the vocabulary of ITIL.

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~ by lavazzza on September 27, 2013.

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