Service catalogs have been around for 15+ years, but IT teams typically use them to guide internal operations. Many organizations fail to create a customer-oriented catalog that helps both internal and external customers understand what business services IT actually offers, what those services cost, how they will perform and the limits on their use. And that causes problems.
Example: Datalink recently completed a project at a multi-national marketing company. The client was perplexed by the skyrocketing cost of their backup environment, which they provided to their customers as a service. They thought the problem was related to the hundreds of thousands of pieces of tape media they were storing indefinitely, but weren't sure how.
Datalink discovered there was no actual catalog of services for the client detailing SLAs, specifications, costs, limitations and the like. They built a catalog including all of those details plus a unit cost model per backed-up GB per month. This is saving the client money as well as improving their customers' satisfaction for several reasons.
Previously, backup services were set up after a few questions about customer size. No matching between service requirements and the services provisioned was done, so nearly everyone was mismatched to their actual business needs.
Because there was no business language definition of what "backup" meant, many customers were using it as their disaster recovery strategy or backing up multiple times per day, just to be safe. As a result, a typical customer was backing up 10 times the data they needed to and still not receiving a proper disaster recovery service.
Without any SLAs, every backup and restore request was "top priority." By matching service levels to pricing, the client could stop calling for a fire drill every time a request came in. Today, the staff can handle most requests during business hours and the Tier 1 customers have appropriate coverage when they need it.
The value of the catalog is so clear that this client is now adding a new role within IT to keep it up to date. This individual will identify new customer requirements that fundamentally change the services delivered and how they are shown in the catalog, helping to nip future problems in the bud as well as creating a framework for building a consumer-facing IT portal.
Every day, it becomes increasingly clear that the IT-makes-all-the-technology-decisions model is as outdated as dial-up Internet access. From executives demanding that IT investments deliver concrete business results to end users bypassing IT departments by signing up for services like AWS, Dropbox, Office 365 and Yammer, the days of IT exercising absolute control over technology spend are over.
The question, of course, is: now what?We all know Gartner's prediction that 90 percent of IT spending decisions will be made outside of IT by 2020 as individual business units define their own technology needs. We all talk about shifting to an IT-as-a-service model in order to adapt. But the whole mindset has to change before IT can reinvent itself to fit the new role it is expected to fulfill. In this slideshow, Peter Kraatz, senior manager of cloud service management and IT resiliency at Datalink, has outlined four steps to help you get there.
Peter Kraatz is senior manager of cloud service management and IT resiliency at Datalink, a leading data center solutions and services provider for Fortune 500 and mid-tier enterprises.