ITaaS is nothing new? Really, come on, give me a break!
Everyone involved with the cloud in the beginning years of marketplace listened to something like this naïve, and somewhat irritating statement often:
“Cloud computing is not new. We had it all along, years ago with timesharing and mainframes.”-Crusty IT Person
Fortunately, these types of ignorant statements have largely vanished regarding the cloud. However, the statement remains, just directed at a different subject within the cloud:
“Yeah, we provide ITaaS – we are using the ITIL framework and have an ITSM plan!”-1990’s IT Manager
What is ITaaS?
For those unacquainted, IT as a Service concept is for an IT department to become a contemporary service provider. A provider that plans, coordinates, and delivers external and internal IT services, rather than building around, and working in, old technology silos.
From this paradigm, enterprise IT can offer a list of options that may include service options. Options like SaaS, PaaS, and ITaaS can be provided to the users within the enterprise and from a service catalog.
Enterprise users will become unshackled and able to select ‘a la carte’ cloud services from a contracted third-party provider, or the IT department provides the services on their own. Enterprise users will be able to make educated choices backed by SLAs, cost of service, ease of use, etc. In some instances, they may even be able to provide their services through self-service functionality.
The terminology and definition may not always agree, but the concept is essentially the same.
The False Narrative
IT has continuously provided services to enterprise users, notably in enterprises with shared service organizations. The concept of a service catalog, with third-party cloud services, will be new for some users. However, ultimately IT has always been a primary provider of a group or groups of IT services needed by the enterprise.
To more efficiently line up services with the enterprise, numerous IT teams have rolled out ITIL and ITSM processes, as well as the associated service KPIs and metrics to enhance services.
False Sense of Security
Sadly, ITIL and ITSM have convinced several IT teams of a false narrative and deceptive perception of security. This narrative and opinions base themselves on the belief they are far along on the road of providing ITaaS.
Numerous IT teams have mistakenly assumed that adopting the ITIL framework for providing IT services, that the cloud services will be able to fold seamlessly into their current processes. They also believe that adding an external cloud service provider will not amend the old style. Just like those who have done productive work implementing ITIL and ITSM are discovering, the cloud supported ITaaS will be a brand new, unique creature.
Some of the uniqueness related to ITaaS paradigm are listed in the following paragraphs:
Competition for Enterprise IT Teams
Yes, the IT teams have provided IT services to the enterprise. However, the choice around what services provided, no matter if it was infrastructure, network, applications, or something else, it would be chosen mostly by the IT team.
Enterprise users may have chosen their services if it is a service IT approved them to have. This choice essentially amounted to Henry Ford’s quote relating to the Model-T and customers wanting different colors of cars;
“Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants, so long as it is black.”
Facing increased competition for the budget from the public cloud services, enterprise IT teams are currently discovering the need to supply more than one color or flavor of services. Planning and successfully deploying IT services, along with their processes, SLAs, and KPIs, are much more critical. They are notably more critical now that the enterprise users are no longer captive to the enterprise IT team.
Customer Understanding & Choices of Services
Within a new ITaaS setting, enterprise IT teams must offer services that are competitive in the market. The initial stage in doing this is to understand the client. This understanding implies truly comprehending client needs, necessities, and presenting a persuasive cost scheme.
Really recognizing client needs is almost all marketing and sales work, and most internal IT teams aren’t always that smart about these areas. What makes us assume that it’s about to be better?
This assumption often is why the seemingly simple task of shaping a cloud service catalog is often frightening and a significant challenge for enterprise IT. Customers usually don’t understand what they require or know enough to ask the proper questions. Peeling back the layers from the surface to understand customer needs isn’t a current core competency of enterprise IT.
Clarity on Cost of Services with ITaaS
With advertised service catalogs, SLAs, pricing, and chargeback, the customers can now comparison shop. If those users don’t like the asking price for a Windows server VM or a couple of TB of storage on the IT teams’ on-premise systems, they can compare the cost to Microsoft Azure, Amazon AWS, and others.
This analogy may be an oversimplification, but IT teams must now face questioning on their costs charged back to the enterprise departments like they never have before.
Pricing is also not a cost-plus exercise. If the cost for on-premise services is too high, then developers WILL take the shadow IT route. If the price is too low, then the IT team will experience capacity challenges.
Sadly, ITIL and ITSM don’t give helpful direction for optimizing for cost and price, nor does it touch on different “sales and marketing” controls the CIO can implement.
Commoditizing Services with ITaaS
When offering ITaaS, the enterprise IT team must summarize the services at a laypersons level. This summarization is so self-service is possible for enterprise users and other customers. This summary clearly demands plain language and consistency, not convolution.
This plain language has not always been a skill within most enterprise IT departments. This skill is missing even though consistency will provide enormous value to the user and IT team. Normalizing services is deviously hard. Enterprise IT has frequently been inept, or unwilling to commoditize their services.
Another concept that enterprise IT teams will need to learn right away is ‘co-opetition.’ IT teams are going to require skills to work with cloud service vendors. They will need to establish the way services will fit in the ITaaS service catalog from a contract, assimilation, security, and governance point of view. At the same time, these cloud service vendors could also be competing versus enterprise IT provided services, especially those that are still on-premise.
Handling these nuances of these co-opetition style relationships is a brand-new challenge for several IT organizations.
All these factors have implications on an organization’s structure, policies, processes, and personnel skills and will move well beyond what ITIL and ITSM frameworks will address. The first action for a CIO is an honest assessment of the enterprise IT team and their services when considering ITaaS transformation. They need to define how they will be competing against and distinguishing themselves from this ITaaS marketplace.
Implementing ITaaS does not mean you are outsourcing your internal enterprise IT. With ITaaS, you can focus on your IT organization’s core competencies and contract out those services that make sense and lower costs. Start finding avenues to slash enterprise IT support and infrastructure expenses.
With ITaaS, you’re able to shake loose some of your budget for more essential responsibilities in your enterprise.
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