I want to transform my approach to IT, but…

I get e-mail:

Pete,
I have a client that wants to explore IT transformation and maybe move to a cloud or “As a Service” model but the managers keep throwing up this objection-

At this point the writer inserts one of a half dozen or so common roadblocks getting in the way of improving the client’s lot in IT.  With that in mind, I bring you a series of challenges and some responses.  Whether you’re a consultant or an employee trying to influence change the next few posts are for you.  If you disagree, let it rumble in the comments.  There’s more than one way to skin a cat, as they say. 

So you are trying to build a Cloud/XXXaaS model for delivering IT more effectively and you want to accelerate your transformation, but you just can’t get over the fact that…

“Our current provisioning time is too long to meet the new, aggressive targets “XXXaaS” or Cloud will set for expectations.  We’re doomed to fail before we start!”

I feel for these folks.  On the one hand, they are getting hammered by their clients for taking months to fulfill basic resource provisioning requests.  The clients don’t understand the purchasing cycle, only “my project goes live in a week!”  On the other hand, consultants are promising provisioning turnover in days or hours, not weeks or months; they are right to ask if even the consultants understand the purchasing cycle, requirements gathering, or how obtuse internal clients can be at times.

I could sell you a magic potion in the form of orchestration and automation tools, combined with a real services catalog as the solution but they are only part of the answer.  The odds are that you need to get your IT Operations processes in order, first.  Many service delivery problems that plague us with long provisioning cycles are the result of too little (or too much) process control over our activities.  The bonus prize in fixing the process piece is that we can streamline the provisioning cycle today.  The future state cloud or XXXaaS model just gets that much closer.  Can I reduce a certain number of my requests to standard templates?  Can I fit what looks like a custom request into a standard package and clone it out with minimal detail work on the back end?  Can I effectively determine the standard/custom fit in just a few minutes with a client?

Probably.  At one global media company for which I ran Enterprise Data Storage 10 years ago we cut provisioning times 80% simply by standardizing the requests into 32GB chunks.  No custom sizing, thank you.  Everything from provisioning to capacity management got easier overnight and we all learned our multiplication tables up to 32*32.  If you did not need 32GB of enterprise-class data storage, we’re sorry, but it is not cost effective to parcel out 1GB chunks when Fry’s has pallets of disk on sale.  The same thing works for compute and network resources.

Assessing the effectiveness and not just the existence of your IT operations processes, rationalizing their use and overhauling them if necessary allows IT to build standard adds/changes that can later be automated or scripted.  If it is cookie-cutter enough, you can get more productivity from your junior resources and more training/experience to them.  Marketing/sales call centers have this figured out; why not IT?

As far as I am concerned this objection isn’t a roadblock to Cloud, it’s the first step to getting there.

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About Peter

Peter is a Geocacher, competitive cribbage player, surfer, amateur magician, golfer and star watcher (the astronomical kind). In his day job for Datalink, Peter is a Senior Manager with their Cloud Service Management Practice helping customers build, manage and improve their legacy IT and Private Cloud infrastructures through Automation, Orchestration and clean living. We’re not so sure on the clean living.

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One Response to I want to transform my approach to IT, but…

  1. Brian Helm says:

    Standards… standards… standards… The more customized an environment becomes the more support resources it will take during the design, provisioning, deployment and operations management. This is also applicable to process. Keep it simple and utilize Best Practices.

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