The series concludes with operational readiness – the ability to meet customer expectations with delivery and communications. Previous articles in the cloud migration series have covered financial considerations, marketing strategies, sales model approach as well as the recommended technical strategy to maximize the channel provider's investment.
Research shows that the biggest barrier to successful cloud computing is not technology, it is people and processes. The speed and demand placed on today's businesses require better communication and finely tuned automated operations. Even for an organization accustomed to standardization, with well-documented processes, and centralized IT governance and access, a cloud environment poses new challenges that solution providers will need to address.
Giving the many objectives of cloud computing, managing operational readiness can be a daunting task. What is the best path forward for operational cost savings and greater agility? Solution providers will need to move away from a linear organization to one that is more customer-centric. Meaning, all parts of the organization will need to work together to support the cloud business model.
Why is this important? Because today's transactions are much smaller and will be more frequent, placing a greater importance on streamlined processes and automation.
"Change management is the cause of more than 60 percent of downtime created by good intentioned people who make modifications to the platform," said Eric Carson, Director of Service Delivery for Concerto Cloud. "To prevent these errors, proper processes and procedures should be formalized and put in place by an assigned change committee. These automated processes will cut down and even eliminate the risk of human error."
To accomplish this, many providers like Concerto Cloud Services follow the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) methodology – a set of practices for IT service management that focuses on aligning IT services with the needs of businesses. Specifically, ITIL is the ability to manage a business' infrastructure in a systematized way to ensure a steady state of operation and ultimately ensure uptime.
Solution partners should view ITIL as a vertical with many different horizontal layers – each having its own level of automation and responsibility.
- Layer 1 - Request Management: Something is needed such as a password reset, or adding a new user. It's new, it's a request, and that is how it gets into the system.
- Layer 2 - Incident Advancement: Something is broken. Can it be fixed? Information is entered as a request incident into the system.
Incidents and requests both get actioned by a change. Typically a request or an incident drives a change in the operational infrastructure. The technician or engineer that is on the operations side of the change will facilitate that action into production. So why is that so important? When running a production organization, the solution provider needs to be able to know what happens each step of the way, so if something goes wrong, it can be identified and rolled back. Visibility into who makes changes and what time those changes were made, are operationally critical.
- Layer 3 - Problem Management: Having more than one incident with similar issues. If these are related in some way, it is important to be able to link them together and form a problem record so tracking can begin and a resolution can be made quickly. The key is to resolve not at the incident level, but more at a higher lever – solving the "bigger picture.
"Everything fits into the ITIL methodology – if you make a change, you apply that change to a specific item within the CMED and every team member knows exactly which change is being made, reducing errors and enhancing project communications," said Eric. "Concerto makes sure you have those enterprise level capabilities, and makes sure those practices are being followed."
Beyond technology – optimize available expertise
A cloud partner who has "been there, done that" is necessary to ensure a smooth transition to the cloud from both a service delivery standpoint as well as understanding and navigating the necessary compliance regulations.
Operational readiness is more than just servers and applications; there is a very important factor that can further ensure the success of the business' operations. Service delivery provides a standard framework for building and delivering reliable services and solutions quickly, and collaboratively to ensure high performance.
The increasing need for compliance and reporting to governmental or industry working groups – especially if the organization works with highly sensitive data – is especially important. Any cloud system must not only be secure, but it must also comply with even the most stringent of industry standards and governmental regulations.
Organizations will continue to grow and standardize their information technology and business processes to maximize productivity, and as they do, they will need service providers that follow proven approaches that will lead to consistent and predictable delivery models.
Eric added, "The key is to make sure your cloud partner can manage infrastructure at the operating level from soup to nuts. A good provider is not just a hosting company, but also a partner who can manage all of the pieces of your business, driving results that meet your set goals and customers' expectations."
Cloud computing is quickly becoming the technology of choice enabling businesses to be more focused on providing strategic value rather than spending time on IT resources and infrastructure needs. By choosing the right cloud partner that invests in security and utilizes the most recent technology advances solution providers can realize significant opportunities to save time, resources and money – all while keeping that trusted advisor status current with their customers.
Read the rest of the posts in this series: