Can ITIL Assist in Cloud Computing Crisis Management?

When you strip away all the intricacies and esoteric information, ITIL is essentially a compendium of service lifecycle-bound solutions and recommendations.  While ITIL lacks a definitive guide which is capable of providing a standardized framework for establishing individual cloud computing infrastructures, it can still be utilized in other important ways.

In the IT/ITIL lifecycle, crisis management (in some cases also referred to as incident management) falls under the heading of service operation.  Though cloud computing is often touted as a less convoluted form of IT infrastructure to establish (and perhaps maintain), it is still lacking in many areas, crisis management being one of these areas.  In a traditional grid computing / networking model virtually everything is built from the ground up utilizing a combination of off-the-shelf hardware / software and the conventional knowledge / experience of the person(s) involved.  As to be expected, problems will undoubtedly arise in many different forms, this is of course why methodology lexicons like ITIL exist in the first place.

However, things are slightly different where cloud computing is concerned.  A majority of the individual components (or services) that comprise any cloud model are generally covered by the cloud service vendor and aren’t to be managed directly by clients.  The highest level of control that a cloud client has is in an IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) model, and the lowest, SaaS (Software as a Service).  So, in effect, if a cloud client wants to implement any ITIL crisis management procedures they must fall under one or more of the headings: applications, data, runtime or middleware.   This creates a very interesting situation whereby certain ITIL methodologies can be adapted by cloud clients in order to cover their specific areas of management; especially if those areas have been adapted from grid-based systems / technology.  However, just because ITIL is generally applied to a pre-cloud framework doesn’t mean that it cannot be applied directly to cloud computing in nearly the same exact fashion.  The simple fact of the matter is that individual use of ITIL-infused methods are currently being applied to cloud computing, but until the findings / discoveries of these intrepid IT professionals are tabulated in the next edition of ITIL, you probably won’t be aware of it.

This brings us to our next point or concern, how will ITIL adapt to include or cover cloud computing?  Both ITILV3  and ITIL 2011 include some information concerning cloud computing but it is not comprehensive (in the same manner as what is covered concerning grid-based models).  Luckily, these concerns have already been voiced and steps to establish a cloud-centric ITIL knowledge base have already been underway for quite some time now.

But enough about the future, what about the present, right?
Currently, many businesses are migrating to cloud models, or at the very least experimenting with individual service offerings.  This is largely due to the cost-to-profit benefits that cloud computing can offer users as well as the abilities of these service offerings themselves.  It should be noted however that a great number of institutions have discovered that by having a well-established ITIL-laden IT infrastructure makes transitioning to the cloud a much more streamlined affair.  In fact, having a well-tuned ITIL system in place virtually assures that only minor adjustments need to be made to one’s service management structure.  So, in this way, having a rock-solid ITIL framework is essentially tantamount to crisis prevention when establishing a cloud computing infrastructure.

having a well-established ITIL-laden IT infrastructure makes transitioning to the cloud a much more streamlined affair

So, what’s the next step if you’re (a business owner, CEO, IT manager, or other high level individual that is) responsible for long-term decision making with regards to the direction of your institution and management of personnel?  The obvious course of action here is training and certification in ITIL and / or cloud computing.    In truth, training is highly recommended in both of these areas if you are an IT professional, if you are really serious about your career, certification in both is advised.  Why certify?  There are basically two ways to look at ITIL / cloud Certification;

  • From the point-of-view of the owner / manager
  • From the point-of-view of the IT professional / individual seeking certification

Employers and managers are much more inclined to hire and deal with employees who are well-versed in the processes, methodologies and technologies that are being utilized.  ITIL in particular, is / has been adopted by a great number of people / institutions across the globe already, and it works; therefore, it only follows logic that if you want to remain relevant you need to be well-versed in this regard.  This is why employers and managers are encouraged to look into not only becoming certified themselves, but also to offer and suggest that their IT employees do the same.

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While cloud computing has yet to be embraced by the entire world, it is literally on-the-cusp of achieving such a distinction.  For example, cloud computing has already been embraced by megaliths like Google, Amazon, corporations as well as most of the governmental institutions across the globe.  These groups have the finances and influence to utilize and / or create whatever they desire, yet they are opting to devote time, energy and money to the further development, dissemination, and design of cloud computing infrastructures.