Why the ITIL mindset is a windfall for Cloud Computing
Cloud Computing is a pretty incredible concept, don’t you think? Not only does this technological “rethinking” of computing and networking centralize virtually every component, but it also (at the same time) creates a system for distributing nearly endless (computing) power to individual users. But these are just a couple of the more obvious (and external) benefits associated with cloud computing, there’s plenty more where that came from (and who knows what will develop in the near future, right?).
Unlike the development of the previous computing / networking model, cloud computing is expanding and developing at a highly accelerated rate (by comparison). Arguably, this is merely an expression of the fact that development in “the cloud” itself is built upon the lessons learned from its predecessor(s), combined with the sheer volume of people, experimentation and information that exists to propagate it. The point is, Cloud Computing is growing fast and is sure to be here for quite an extended period of time.
However, if there’s one area where Cloud Computing is lacking, it’s in organization and methodology. Simply put, there is no body of processes and methods which outline the inherent possibilities in cloud computing (as of yet). Likewise, CC is far from being a model of organization; for example, there is no dedicated collection of policies which dictate proper alignment, establishment, modification or organization of services in the cloud. This is not to say that people aren’t working on such a thing (the ITIL group itself is in the process of producing literature for cloud computing), this only implies that right now, work in cloud computing might require slightly more “trial and error” work than one might be accustomed to.
A methodology-driven (at least temporary) solution does exist however, and it is of course ITIL (2011, V3, V2). Aside from the technical information that ITIL brings to the fore, it also imbues all who study it with a certain mindset with regards to IT infrastructure, the IT service lifecycle, and of course, how to perform their job duties. In other words, even though traditional ITIL training might not perfectly apply to every cloud-based situation, it will allow team members to create a highly organized environment where the source of potential problems can be delineated quickly.
But ITIL can also be utilized in other ways as well; for example, having an ITIL-entrenched team is one of the absolute best ways to prep for transitioning to the cloud, or merely adding individual cloud services (to current infrastructure). Once again, this is because ITIL allows any IT department to cleanly organize their entire operation, as well as get individuals in the right frame of mind. IT managers as often well aware of the fact that the overall success and effectiveness of an (IT) operation is based upon not just the quality of the system, but also the state of mind of IT personnel (ITIL training and certification is still one of the best ways to foster critical thinking amongst IT team members)
Aside from the purely technical benefits of cloud computing there are the “institutional” remunerations. For instance, as cloud computing is largely an inexpensive “metered” service, it is a great deal more cost-effective than traditional networking / computing. Additionally, any “cloud” is more or less strategically designed to use energy in a more efficient manner (inactive nodes / terminals / systems, can be limited, while active elements are fed power). Not only does this cut annual electricity costs by a significant margin, but it also allow a business to “only pay for what they use”; most organizations pay extremely high overhead on hundreds (if not thousands) of machines which are always on and sucking power despite performing very little actual work.
Cloud computing also places virtually all IT and user-managed components in one centralized location, making servicing, modification, crisis response and maintenance a much more streamlined affair. In fact, many people are reporting that (through the advent of cloud computing) their respective IT departments are able to essentially “do more, with less”; or rather, “get more done, in a shorter amount of time”. All in all, there are numerous ways in which cloud computing is vastly superior to grid computing; does this mean that it is perfect? Of course not; cloud computing still has a great deal of room for improvement and expansion, but it’s important to note that it has already trumped the previous computing / networking infrastructure model in a number of significant ways.
IT professionals who want to create a long term career for themselves across multiple fields and future markets should be well-versed in both ITIL and Cloud Computing. This is to say that those who want to build a career aimed at reaching anywhere near the top of their field should seek out certification in both of these areas (ITIL and Cloud Computing).