Thought Leadership for
IT Service Management Professionals

Cloud and Automation: Adopt or Evolve?

Posted by Steph Velte

Wed, Feb 13, 2013

We often hear our clients talk about "adoption" and what they are doing to persuade their IT and Business resources to adopt new technologies, new processes and new initiatives to drive innovation and new revenue opportunities. Data Center Transformation, Data Center Automation and Data Center Consolidation have been recent catalysts (and in some cases forced catalysts) that have attempted to force changes in IT and business processes. Organizations have thought moving these projects forward with executive orders would promote adoption of the new technologies and platforms and that would enhance their abilities to transform the way they delivered services to their customers, consumers and even internally. Adoption defined:

“To take up and practice or use”

“To accept formally and put into effect”

Does transformation happen by simply starting to use new processes? Is there really a line in the sand that IT steps over as they “start” adoption and using transformational processes and technologies? Maybe sometimes this happens. In fact, I have seen it happen with projects that toss out traditional IT and establish the use of integration and automation via simplified, consolidated, shared and refined processes and resources. These projects often become the internal poster child of Cloud and quickly become templates of success for future initiatives. Sounds easy, right? It is a lot easier to establish this governance from the beginning of a controlled project versus putting this into effect across an enterprise with established operational chaos, ever-changing requirements and evolving technologies. Excuse me? Did you infer we are trying to Adopt something that is constantly Evolving? I think we may have stumbled upon something. Evolve defined:

“To develop or achieve gradually”

“To change or develop slowly often into a better, more complex or more advanced state”

Automation, integration and process enrichment are some of the basic principles to evolve existing IT services into Cloud-based and delivered automation services. The “problem” is that it is an evolutionary journey that requires patience with a balance of tactical and strategic guiding principles. Measuring successful change for the purpose of aligning incremental improvement is another governing principal in the evolutionary process of moving services into the Cloud. Cloud services have a high level of process and technology maturity that is required, and there are many steps to develop this foundation. Understanding where to start first is a very difficult question, and many organizations do not identify the steps of succession to promote the continuity of the journey.

Cloud used to be easy. It used to be defined by many IT executives as the ability to virtualize infrastructure platforms. For organizations that quickly moved down the path of virtualization, they soon discovered that delivering infrastructure services more quickly to the business simply moved the IT bottleneck closer to the IT and business services. Providing additional infrastructure capacity and services at a more rapid pace did not allow consumers of those services to enrich the processes that traditionally delayed the delivery of platform services.  Those rapidly provisioned infrastructure services definitely didn’t allow service consumers to develop applications and evolve the capabilities of those applications to support the business and drive innovation. It also did not provide a mechanism to capture changes that are occurring in the industry with the dependency on new ideas still in their infancy such as big data, social media and business intelligence.

The improvement of technology platforms over the last decade has opened up massive opportunity to execute the level of process automation that is required for Cloud-based deliveries, but integration has long been a prohibiting factor. To intensify the problem, content development that occurs within these enterprise platforms has been proprietary, operationally focused and scarcely integrated to other enterprise platforms within the IT processes. This lack of integration contributes to the massive overhead that bogs down these traditional IT processes. Part of the Cloud evolution requires a focus on not only the integration problems between platforms but also the integration and interoperability of the shared content that is the essential fuel of IT processes.

As I eluded to earlier, the Cloud journey needs to be aligned to a myriad of maturity metrics that require milestone management and reporting to keep the evolutionary progress moving forward. I spend a lot of time with my customers helping them identify how to manage fewer things better, how to improve operational costs and most importantly, how to simplify and consolidate the IT services being requested and delivered. If these initial phases of the Cloud migration aren’t a focal point or aren’t properly streamlined, the cost of moving these existing services to the Cloud will become a prohibiting factor. It will introduce unneeded complexity in this Cloud service that will become unmanageable operationally, just like they are dealing with in their traditional IT environments.

After simplification and consolidation has been reviewed, I often move the focus to standardizing services, increasing utilization of existing resources (people, process and technology) and identifying the availability of (or defining) shared and virtualized services. These services can range from operations to infrastructure services, all the way through platform and application services. Once again, you have to present, develop and deploy consumable-sized services based on the reality of your environment and your requirements. This is a balancing act for sure.

Finally, we can define the Cloud goals. These goals will build upon the simplified and shared services that have been identified or made available in the previous phases. Redefining and evolving the services will be finalized and will solidify as you align them to your requirements. Examples include but obviously are not limited to: service catalog expansion, automated workflow and provisioning, self service provisioning, charge back, usage and asset tracking, including elastic decommissioning. This new agility will be a solid foundation for the succession steps in the Cloud journey. Don’t forget, they have to be consumable within your organization so your Cloud journey will be a successful process of Evolution and not a failure of Adoption.

Check back to my upcoming blogs as I will dissect this stepwise journey in further detail. In the meantime, let’s follow the advice of the ultimate innovator:

The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.”      -  Albert Einstein


About the Author

Steve Williams
Enterprise Solution Director, Automation

Steve has been with Evergreen since 2000 and has spent the majority of that time helping enterprise customers evolve into agile IT and business service providers utilizing enterprise automation solutions and process enrichment. Currently, Steve is leading the Automation Practice at Evergreen and helping vendors such as Evergreen, HP and ServiceNow deploy and operationalize Automation and Cloud solutions to their customers. Steve also leads the innovation, enablement and sales support of the Practice as they evaluate and deploy bleeding-edge technologies to transform the way IT delivers to their Customers.

Topics: automation, data center automation, cloud management, cloud strategy, cloud

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