Many CIOs view ITaaS as an interesting theory or concept, but don’t know how to make it real given the day-to-day challenges they face. The fact is, CIOs are already being pushed towards becoming an ITaaS provider, though they may not recognize it yet as such. “Shadow IT”, private and hybrid cloud initiatives are all in fact driving IT towards ITaaS transformation.
If you’re a CIOs or IT executive looking to get ahead of the curve, here are five practical steps you can take to get started on the path to ITaaS:
1) Pick Your Services – the first step is to pick an initial set of services you’d like to deliver via an ITaaS model. Migrating to ITaaS doesn’t require a “big bang” implementation across the entire IT services portfolio. In fact we’d argue that would be exactly the wrong approach. Instead, bite off a set of services you’ll be able to chew. Often times we see this initial set of services is around public and private cloud IaaS, or even just private cloud services alone. They key is to pick a subset of services to start with – don’t try to boil the ocean.
2) Define the Offerings – next you need to figure out the services you need to offer. And no, offering private cloud small, medium and large VM instances isn’t enough. In addition to platforms and configurations, you need to determine service and support levels. How many VMs could our users potentially need to spin up? How quickly? These are the types of answers you’ll need to have. You’ll also need to determine how to define services in an “apples to apples” way across private and public cloud. You won’t need to necessarily replicate Amazon’s offer structure, but you’ll need to at least provide users the information they need to determine what model makes the most sense for their needs, and to communicate what levels of support they can expect.
3) Price the Offerings – next, figure out to price your services and what you’re going to charge your “customers”. While seemingly easy, this can be tricky for two reasons. First, pricing must reflect the total cost of ownership (TCO) of delivering these services. This often requires pulling in finance expertise. Why? One Fortune 500 IT organization we saw thought that the cost of server hardware embedded in their private cloud services pricing model should be zero, because the servers were fully depreciated.
Second, pricing levels must be set to create the desired incentives for buyers. Price too high, and users will further find ways to use public cloud services. Price too low and you’ll fail to breakeven, and potentially create capacity issues.
4) Define Policies – next you’ll need to make sure you have a basic set of policies and governance structure in place around issues like access, provisioning (and deprovisioning), security, compliance, data integration and other factors. Basic questions around who should be able to access and use what types of services will need to be answered. You’ll also need to make sure you have appropriate financial controls in place, and that chargeback or showback policies are clear. You’ll also need to figure out the rules of the game for vendor and sourcing management.
5) Launch and Incubate – the final step is to launch the services to “market” with a new ITaaS operating team or unit, supported by any needed cloud brokerage and management tools. Arguably the most important step a CIO can take on the path to ITaaS is to create a separate organizational structure for delivering and supporting the new model.
First, as we’ve discussed before ITaaS requires new processes, roles and skills that are distinctly different from traditional enterprise IT. Trying to deliver and support two different operating models simultaneously with the same staff is a recipe for disaster.
Second, as many have learned painfully “culture eats strategy for breakfast”. New ITaaS models need to be protected from internal political pressures from traditional IT. Many legacy enterprise IT vendors have flamed out spectacularly when attempting to compete in cloud. These failures largely have little to do with technology, and everything to do with culture, politics and incentives. The same issues will exist in enterprise IT unless the new models are protected.
The nice thing about ITaaS is that once the initial model is defined, it becomes much easier to add and transition services to the model over the time. The key is to get the foundational elements right, and then incrementally expand deeper into the IT portfolio over time. As we’ve discussed, ITaaS is about more than just cloud – virtualized and even dedicated services can still be incorporated into a common ITaaS framework. As they say though the hardest part is always getting started.