Cloud Service Management – Part 2: End-to-End process considerations

Posted on : 28-12-2011 | By : jo.rose | In : Cloud

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In our first part of our look into ITSM in The Cloud we looked at the viability aspects. There are often compelling reasons to move to a cloud-based solution and organisations who have experienced the challenges of the managed services model are always looking for solutions that offer a great customer experience, simple business models and value for money.

In Part 2 we cover the interdependency, governance and process issues of an increasingly fragmented delivery chain and investigate the End-to-End process challenges faced by organisations together with the concerns that they may have surrounding moving to a more complex and opaque service partner model.

So are ITSM solutions in the cloud able to match the way that companies deliver services to the business?

The primary ITSM processes and their maturity are still key to running any successful business, but the focus in the market is changing. The managed service model and large outsourcing deals have often created frustrations and a lack of clarity around ownership of service delivery. The only people who suffer in this scenario are the end users or, in the worst cases, the end Customers.

In the ITSM Cloud service model, the business owners will become more interested in developing simple terms and conditions, request processes and mature reporting mechanisms. The requirement to develop complex ITSM process models will become less important to Business/ IT Divisions and there will be a shift towards buying commodity ITSM services, in the same way that we currently buy other services on-demand.

From a Customer view point the functionality and processes that remain critical will be:

  1. Account/ Supplier/ Relationship Management to ensure that the service is meeting requirements
  2. The Service Catalogue to be able to purchase services and add-ons quickly and where possible in real time
  3. Simple self help and support processes that add real customer value and don’t become a burden to the Customer

From a Service Provider view point the functionality and processes that will need to mature are:

  1. Demand and Capacity Management to ensure that this is predictable, measurable and aligned to future business growth
  2. Security Management to ensure continued confidentiality, availability and integrity
  3. Access Management to able to intuitively add new users in a manner which is simple, effective and clearly priced
  4. Terms and conditions which are aimed at the end user and not an IT Commercial or legal team

The Service provider model and bespoke complex contractual agreements will remain for some services, but there will be a shift towards on-demand services which are accessible from multi devices and channels.

For these on-demand services the delivery model will be opaque to the customer, but will offer a simple approach to delivering standard IT services to multiple end users. This may well lead to direct agreements between Customer and Cloud providers, but in the short term will still require the governance often seen in the retained organisation or intelligent client model introduced over the last few years.

Behind the scenes, the challenges for the service provider remain as complex as they do today with current service delivery chains but there will be shift towards commodity processes and delivery mechanisms as we have seen with the development of mobile and tablet devices.

The key challenges for managing end to end process remain the same, but service delivery organisations will need to move to a standard process engine that focuses on delivering a great customer experience as opposed to fulfilling the requirements of an ITSM Maturity assessment or Industry accreditation.

The processes or functions that will be in the spot light are still the same, but the Customer will not be interested in their inner workings. Some of the key processes and impacts are detailed below:

  • Demand Management – this will become a Customer process, similar to mobile top up services that are currently available. The Service provider process will need to be focused on providing this on-demand functionality and then behind the scenes deliver service performance and analysis statistics that predict user behaviour, heavy demand periods etc. These will then need to be closely linked to internal capacity and availability functions to ensure service resilience and availability
  • Information Security – a key challenge for many implementations with many complexities to consider in the cloud environment including i) whether the hosted environment is on dedicated or shared infrastructure, ii) the physical security of the hosting environment e.g. whether it is a secure data centre / dedicated cabinet / monitored environment etc. iii) what data is going to be hosted externally? Is there any confidential classified data e.g. business or transactional related data to be stored in the hosted environment? iv) any security implementation requirements, secure links, encryption etc. must conform to the client’s security standards and controls, v) how customer users of the system will access the hosted solution in a secure manner, vi) how support personnel / system administrators will gain access to the hosted solution to make system changes, vii) the flexibility of the hosted solution to aid the definition and implementation of system roles to further aid restriction of duties on the system e.g. end user, process user, approver, admin roles, viii) does the hosted solution conform to the customers adopted information security standards e.g. ISO/IEC 27001/2?
  • Capacity Management– the ability to add / remove capacity, whether dedicated or shared, physical or virtual, storage, licenses, users, processing capability ( are system resources capable of providing required processing in a timely manner? ) and in a way that performance is acceptable from all global customer locations
  • Incident Management – here the focus will be on understanding the complexity of the core delivery platform and how it relates to individual customer services. This will include mapping business functionality to infrastructure components and really understanding how to completely remove points of failure or provide resilience to services. The customer will still need the ability to report events observed with the hosted solutions and expect response and resolution to contracted levels
  • Change Management – the customer will only be interested in change activity that impacts the on-demand service that they procure and associated service levels. They will also be interested in changes that deliver enhanced functionality, new services or simplify existing business processes. As always, Change Management needs to be effective and not have impact on the Customer
  • Service Continuity – a key area and at the SME level one of the major efficiency plays for Cloud. The same rigour needs to apply such as the availability of a second DR environment, recovery time objectives, will failover impact any agreed availability levels etc ?
  • Service Reporting–  the availability of service MI is also important, such as i) does the system provide all of the required MI out of the box? ii) is the available MI available real-time or can it only be produced by the hosting organization? iii) can data be exported in to common formats iv) does the solutions reporting capabilities integrate with common reporting solutions v) how flexible is the system to produce tailored reports vi) is the presentation mechanism for MI data flexible, e.g. can be viewed as a list, a chart, on a management dashboard etc.

In summary

The challenges around end to end process will remain complex for the service provider. The shift will come in delivering scalable process engines that support multiple customers and their experience across a global enterprise. The end to end process interest from the end user or customer will also become a real challenge. Delivering on-demand services in line with other industry models will mean that the time will come where customers will switch based on service and price. The Cloud Service providers that will lead the way are the ones that focus on delivering processes that meet customer expectation and demand, as opposed to just delivering a standard ITSM process end to end process model.

Thanks to Steve Griffiths of Whitmore Solutions and Paul Simpson of Fuel People for contributing this piece.