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The Cloud is Raining on ITIL

Cloud computing will be a challenge for ITIL practitioners.
Dec 4, 2009
By

Pam Baker





Few would argue the merits of Cloud computing, not the least of which is the cost-savings to be had in Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) models. Indeed, rapid migration to the Cloud is expected to continue undeterred for the foreseeable future.

"While the present model is the use of internal services with a few forays into the Cloud, in the future it will certainly be the opposite,” said Ed Lyons, chief engineer, Application Development and Management at Keane. “Methodologies like ITIL will be forced to acknowledge this emerging reality."

Given this switch-in-the-making, the Cloud is set to rain on ITIL―whether that will encourage growth or wilt the framework is yet to be seen.

Under the Umbrella

The ITIL service management discipline has absolutely the right intentions with respect to establishing a rational regime of availability, continuity, security and all aspects of service level management, said Miko Matsumura, vice president and chief strategist at Software AG. “Unfortunately, the results when applied to Cloud may be akin to washing sand in a sieve―the intention is perfect, the granularity is off by an order of magnitude.”

Matsumura warns that Cloud and SaaS apps, due to their pay-as-you-go model, can potentially fly under the radar of traditional IT governance choke points such as procurement, project management, and enterprise architecture. Enterprise IT would have no mechanism to prevent or even detect the entry of such applications into the network. Thanks to elastic scalability and the high upper limit of scale (as high as you can afford), the risk of the “rational governance process of ITIL to be disrupted by very small Cloud apps that grow exponentially is high.”

Managing the Cloud and ITIL

From this day forward services will always be in the Cloud and exceptions when something must be brought in-house will become rarer. “We don't have to imagine this model, startups with millions of users already operate this way,” explains Lyons.

But, ITIL will have a key role to play as a way to manage the efficiency gains that Cloud promises. Roger Hockenberry, executive vice president at Criterion Systems recommends enterprises review each segment of the process catalogs and make adjustments to better align with a Cloud strategy just as the current processes would “typically be aligned to an insourced, or limited outsourced, strategy.”

One of the concepts of Cloud computing is to rearrange your computing needs more efficiently so that the enterprise can take advantage of the economies of scale that large, public Clouds can provide. In order to do this, said Hockenberry, an enterprise will need to focus on the service metrics and performance parameters that are offered by the outsourcer.

The key areas to focus on for ITIL, he said, would then be Service Level Management (metrics provided align to IT Strategy), Demand and Capacity Management (as Cloud is typically a metered service), Change Control (release of new versions of custom software into a Cloud), Service Validation and Testing (ensuring your service levels are met) and Incident Resolution (root cause capability in a widely distributed network).

“In each instance the outsourcing of capability to a public Cloud infrastructure would require additional discipline and monitoring to ensure that the Cloud services meet, or exceed, the corporate strategy for IT delivery,” said Hockenberry.

Private vs. Public Clouds

ITIL practitioners will be further challenged by the unique differences between private and public Cloud structures and those spawned by the inevitable hybrids.

Public Clouds, offered by vendors like Google, Amazon, Microsoft, etc. are designed for massive scale and flexibility. Public Clouds typically offer greater cost savings. “But they are immature, fail to provide fine granular SLAs, have shaky security and compliance offerings, and offer little to no integration back to on-premises infrastructure,” explained Paddy Srinivasan, CEO of Cumulux, a Cloud services provider.

Private Clouds on the other hand offer more control and granular control over infrastructure but “cannot match the public Clouds in scale and cost savings.”

Traditional in house data centers are “still going to be the preferred alternative for certain classes of applications,” said Srinivasan, especially those which demand tight security and compliance requirements in highly regulated industries

IT teams can expect to deal with a combination of the above models for the foreseeable future. “With hybrid deployments of applications in mixed topologies, the focus of IT staff moves from the operational aspects of infrastructure to monitoring and managing these diverse environments,” said Srinivasan. “New ITIL processes and frameworks will have to evolve."

A prolific and versatile writer, Pam Baker's http://www.linkedin.com/in/pambaker published credits include numerous cover stories for international, national and regional media from women's and general interest to finance, business and technology magazines, online content and newspapers; analytical studies on technology; and, six books. She is a member National Press Club and Avant Guild/Mediabistro.com. She was 2004 nominee for the Templeton Cambridge Journalism Fellowship in Science and Religion (UK) and wrote and produced an award-winning documentary on paper-making.

Tags:
ITIL, Baker, ITSM, Keane, Cumulux



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