To the Cloud and Beyond!

Is your head or technology in the clouds and are you soaring to new peaks of value delivery to the business?  Or has the business simply stopped talking to you and they are off on their own implementing “shadow IT”? 

One of the primary discussion points at a recent conference I attended was the move to the sourcing of applications and operations from the cloud, whether from within IT or directly consumed by the business. The CIO of a large financial organization told me he recently hired a number of programmers who were developing applications directly on to a cloud platform.

When I asked why, he cited agility, innovation, time-to-market and new market opportunities. This organization is representative of why others are embracing and leveraging the cloud, not just to reduce real costs but to minimize opportunity costs required by traditional development methodologies in getting to market.

A colleague from a Fortune 100 company told me his company is embarking on a cloud journey for reasons of agility, scalability and rapid innovation. The business has embraced the development of new applications leveraging a platform-as-a-service capability. The initial intent was to rapidly execute on business demand and transition the change to the computing environment. Initial thinking was that this would simplify all aspects of the computing environment, only to realize that the organization faced a different set of challenges as the market was moving to mobility and the traditional manner of doing business with traditional branches was declining.

I have been told repeatedly that cloud computing no longer requires service management, yet the role of IT is to ensure that the delivery of service exceeds customers’ expectations and is priced appropriately, whether the solution is on-premise, in the cloud or a hybrid.

To truly delight customers, we have to understand where cloud computing impacts the service desk and transition our customer management process accordingly.

For example, employees at the financial organization mentioned above were expected to call different service desks based on the type of service they had an issue with. Often, wrong service desks were called where employees knew nothing about the application, leading to confusion and frustration. Good practice tells us that there should be a single point of contact, regardless of the service under question or from where or by whom it is provided.

Organizations implementing effective cloud computing have done so in a manner that allows the user to consume the service seamlessly. For instance, if you initially deliver HR services internally and decide to move to a cloud provider, the users of the service should see no difference before and after the service delivery transition. As there is no impact on the service consumer, IT takes care of all the details in the background. There are no training requirements or impact on the user, which is exactly the way it should be. The same is true if the user calls the service desk for support. The service desk takes the call, logs the details and then works with the provider to ensure seamless support and focusing on service resumption.

The focus of the service desk MUST transition from support the proactive position of potentially constructing the services, but certainly of knowing how services are constructed to who is involved in the supply chain, the underpinning contracts,  the escalation processes and the business priorities. 

Effectively implementing cloud computing requires effective and efficient service operations. The following checklist should be considered as a starting point.

  • Establish a single point of contact for the consumers of the cloud computing services.

  • Ensure relationships and responsibilities between the service desk and cloud support organizations and partners documented, contracted, and understood.

  • Implement tools with roles defined for the management of incidents, problems, changes and most importantly escalation.

  • Identify, establish, contract and measure lifecycle ownership costs and delivery.

  • Establish processes to allocate the responsibility for the escalation and resolution of major service outages, including the formation of a joint workforce if required.

  • Document and automate standard request fulfillments processes, including responsibilities and accountabilities.

  • Implement automated authentication processes with automated addition and, most importantly, removal of users.

  • Undertake security penetration testing on a regular basis.

  • Implement automated management processes to recognize, register, and initiate appropriate actions when required.

  • Establish effective supplier management, including regular reviews.

As mentioned earlier, cloud computing is here to stay. And it will allow you the opportunity to transition your service desk from simply answering the calls to adding real value to the health and value of the organization.

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Robert Stroud

Vice President Strategy & Innovation IT Business Management at CA Technologies
Robert Stroud is vice president of innovation and strategy for IT Business Management at CA Technologies. Rob is dedicated to the development of industry trends, strategy and communication of industry best practices. Rob is a strong advocate for the governance, security, risk and assurance communities working closely with the community to author, develop and communicate standards and best practices. Rob also advises organizations on their implementations to ensure they drive maximum business value from their investments in IT-enabled business governance. Following a four-year term as an ISACA International vice president, Rob served on the ISACA Strategic Advisory Council, and is currently serving as ISACA ISO Liaison sub-committee. Earlier, Rob served on the itSMF International Board as Treasurer and Director Audit, Standards and Compliance, the itSMF ISO liaisons to multiple working groups and spent multiple years on the board of the itSMF USA. An accomplished author and blogger, Rob is widely recognized for perspectives on industry trends. He also has contributed to multiple standards publications including COBIT 4.0, 4.1 and COBIT 5, Guidance for Basel II and several ISO standards. Rob served as an active member of the ITIL Update Project Board for ITIL 2011 and in various roles in the development of ITIL v3 including the Advisory Group, mentor and reviewer. Prior to joining CA Technologies, Rob spent more than 15 years in the finance industry successfully managing multiple initiatives in both IT and retail banking sectors related to security, service management and process governance. Follow Rob on Twitter: @RobertEStroud

This article has 5 comments

  1. Rob

    Another well presented and timely article. Thank you. I think it is the time for service management to be properly recognized as the set of vital skills an enterprise requires to help broker, deliver and support its IT needs. How else can it be sure the value proposition and quality/cost of service is suitably defined and ‘delivered as promised’?

    This is where traditional ITSM has lost ground and I’m afraid because of its inward focus (yes inside-out), lost credibility. Service Management is a set of concepts and methods created by the business to ensure a stakeholder, customer centric (outside-in) focus, grounded in successful outcomes, the customer experience using a service, and of course costs.

    Cloud computing is a must-do option for most, but that still leaves the role of service broker to be done, if its to be done properly. Cloud requires outside-in thinking for decisions to be correctly made. And – somewhere in the mix is a huge transformation step to help the organization at large adopt and adapt the various cloud options into the hybrid environment I suspect will be the norm for a few more years yet. Again thanks Rob.

  2. Ian, thanks for the feedback. As you suggest, the focus clearly must move from thinking about the internal aspects to the value that is received and perceived by the consumer. Nothing new here and CLOUD simply is making this more compelling.

  3. I like following the reactions to this type of post. It seems like those of us that have primarily identified as being “IT” have continually tried to get out of our own way….and continually used phrases like “IT needs to be aligned with Business” (…no kidding!). Well… certainly “cloud” is either an accelerator or… “the last straw”. Bottom line is business needs their services managed (key word is “their”)…and they are not going to hire folks to “do” service desk or catalog. Businesses hire folks to add value to the business (PERIOD)…and IT needs to assume the responsibility to support business requirements with managed services (…not just say we need to align – but ALIGN).

  4. John, Rob

    This is where I believe the ambitions of much of traditional ITSM thinking has been misplaced. Although it pays lip service to outcomes, it places a focus – in my mind far too big, on the back office. This has allowed some to basically persuade themselves IT as it is, is key, rather than reimagine the role of IT given today’s customer driven world.

    Others have shied away from ITSM thinking it too complex, bold, expensive and not for their size organization – huge pity here.

    This should have always been about service management applied to the challenges of IT. Service management that positions IT as a valuable service broker who can help shape exploitation of cloud amongst other trending technologies…. Rob – see you at LeadIT13?

  5. Ian,

    Absolutely the focus on back office is to central to many service management implementations. It is clear that the focus must be on the business service and the business value and just enough focus to support.

    Looking forward to spending some time at LeadIT13.


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