Adapting ITIL To Fit A Cloud Computing Service Model

ITIL has a great reputation among both IT professionals as well as business persons, and for good reason.  It is a representation of the hard work, knowledge, experience and research gathered from countless individuals (and groups).    By the same token, cloud computing is taking on new followers and devotees on a daily basis, once again comprising both those in the world of IT as well as business and the general population.  In other words, both of these concepts (ITIL and cloud computing) are being embraced worldwide, and both of these disciplines are also IT-focused / driven / intensive as well.  ITIL is widely known as THE source for proven IT processes and methodologies concerning establishing, maintaining, correcting, servicing, and planning IT infrastructure.  However, ITIL has yet to be fully linked, or rather, formally applied to cloud computing.

This is somewhat odd to say the least, especially considering the fact that we know ITIL works in any grid computing / networking model, and cloud computing stems directly from it (grid computing).   It would seem that a great number of individuals simply don’t want to dwell on the similarities or precursors of grid computing inherent to cloud computing.  This is in all actuality a weakness because many methodologies which are essentially holdovers from traditional IT infrastructures, like ITIL, can be repurposed to serve the new computing model.

It has already been documented that instituting an ITIL program prior to a cloud computing transition (or individual service upgrade) not only cuts back on known incidents, but also improves overall functionality (in the cloud).  This is largely where proponents of an ITIL-to-cloud interface are focusing their attention; on utilizing ITIL to provide a foundation for cloud computing.

However, it should be noted that ITIL can be used to assist in general cloud computing operations.  The obvious limitation here is that ITIL solutions can really only be applied to certain elements / components which are essentially derived / adapted from pre-cloud technologies.  This of course only applies to specific solutions; ITIL concepts for organizing or structuring assets for example, can be applied very liberally to any number of ends within a cloud model.  The principal hindrance, with regards to cross ITIL – cloud computing inter-compatibility, remains the nature of a cloud computing model itself.

Cloud Foundation

Because cloud computing is more or less a vendor-controlled type of service / technology, the abilities of IT personnel to modify it are severely limited (unless you own your own private cloud, but this is quite an exception).  This is because any cloud computing model, at the most, only offers subscribers the ability to manage / modify up to around half of the components in said cloud model.  In fact, IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) is the only service model that allows for this level of control, the other two (SaaS and PaaS) are very limited in this regard.  This is not to say that cloud computing itself is limited, but only that the current available / typical service models do not allow for a full ITIL-infused treatment, so to speak.

On the other hand, the limited ability of ITIL to control and/or influence any cloud computing service model might simply be signaling the need for a cloud-specific adoption of ITIL.  The idea of developing a cloud-specific version of ITIL has been a hot button topic in cloud computing circles for some time now (and the creation of such a thing is apparently underway behind the scenes).  In the meantime, ITIL can still be used to manage those user-managed components / modules found in two of the prototypical cloud service models (IaaS and PaaS).  There is no formalized approach to applying ITIL to the cloud as of right now, so those who are intrepid enough to engage in this type of activity should take the advice of others who might have done so successfully.  If your institution is among the few that are able to adapt elements of ITIL to the cloud you might very well be encouraged to offer up materials for consideration in a future cloud-centric version of ITIL.

 

So, how can IT managers and professionals prepare for a future steeped in cloud computing and ITIL? 

Why with training and certification in both of these areas (cloudcomputing and ITIL), of course!

Employees who understand ITIL and how to implement it are not only less likely to create problems; they will gain a much better understanding of how the entire operation (in which they are participating) works.  This level of understanding is becoming more and more important as businesses are beginning to utilize IT to do virtually everything (this included internal operations as well as external sales, communication with consumers, and digital product development).  ITIL helps businesses to ensure that things are being done in the best manner possible, in a timely manner, with a firm crisis management system in place (should anything go wrong) in order to minimize downtime.

Cloud computing is simply the next step in the ongoing evolution of computing, networking and IT in general.  All the signs of a cloud computing takeover are here; and businesses, governments and ordinary citizens are adopting cloud technologies at an increasingly rapid pace.  If you or your organization are truly serious about staying current and competitive, and understanding and adoption of cloud services is pre-requisite.  The obvious place to start is with generalized and affordable cloud computing training and certification.

Once you, your organization, and/or employees have a better grip on both ITIL and cloud computing, you can then start to find ways of integrating the two disciplines.