‘IT Needs to Reach Out to Their Service Consumers’

Arthur Cole

IT is in a quandary. No matter how quickly it implements cloud services on internal infrastructure, users are increasingly turning to outside providers who can give them what they need right now. Some organizations have responded by placing limits on cloud deployments. According to GlassHouse Technologies’ Practice Director of Cloud Computing and IT Services Management, Ken Copas, however, this is the wrong approach. Rather than fight the tide, IT should learn to work with it. And one of the first steps is to finally get to know the enterprise user to determine what they need and how it should be provided, as he explains to IT Business Edge’s Arthur Cole.

Cole: Many enterprises are concerned about rogue clouds – that if they don't place strict controls on where, when and how the cloud is to be used, they will lose all control. Is this the right way to look at the problem?

Copas: Enterprises should definitely be concerned about rogue clouds and really all shadow IT initiatives, but I believe putting strict controls in place will only work to accelerate this type of behavior. IT needs to reach out to their service consumers who have felt the need to bypass the IT services provided to find out why. What need is not being met? Then IT needs to offer a viable alternative that meets their users’ needs while allowing them to be good corporate citizens.

As well, IT should manage supply and demand, develop appropriate cost models, identify what services to offer and provide a service catalog of these offerings to act more like Internal Cloud Service Providers.

Cole: What, then, are some of the key steps IT needs to take in order to function on a service model rather than an infrastructure gatekeeper?

Copas: Start by identifying the service consumers. Talk with them and work collaboratively to build and define a list of needed services that IT can provide. Again, a good place to start is with those service consumers that have gone outside of the current service offerings in order to meet their needs. Once you have defined the necessary services that must be offered, you can figure out in each case what is the best way to offer this service. Implement or broker the solution and wrap a service catalog around the new IT service offerings.  Socialize and train service consumers regarding service offering changes.  Streamline IT governance and processes to facilitate maximizing the benefits of the new IT services for the service consumer.

Cole: With employees getting a free hand to deploy services of their own choosing, won't architectural complexity increase to the point that it diminishes productivity? How can increasingly diverse services remain interoperable considering the number of open and proprietary cloud platforms available today?       

Copas: On the contrary, if the solution is defined collaboratively with the service consumers and architected correctly, enterprises should be able to reduce complexity in their infrastructure and offer a relatively small number of service offerings that meet their service consumer needs. Introducing chargeback is a great way to incentivize service consumers to be conservative with company resources and to shape desired behavior patterns. As well, IT could institute functions like service catalogs, user self-selection and automated provisioning.

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