How ITIL can help with building a cloud strategy

Cloud strategy is the most important part of the service. This is where it needs to start. When you peel away the outer layers of a cloud computing infrastructure to see what makes it tick, so to speak, you will discover groups of services.  These services are designed to perform specific tasks and duties which may deliver something to customers / users or perhaps keep the entire infrastructure afloat.  The point is that cloud services are the lifeblood of the cloud itself, and therefore must be strategically designed in order to function properly.  Ergo – you need a cloud strategy.

Service strategy itself is but one component of service management, the goals of which are; to create control mechanisms, enable full (or nearly full) automation of services, and foster a high level of visibility (or transparency) across the cloud.  It should be fairly obvious that more enhanced control mechanisms will not only allow IT to perform its duties with more authority, but also to make better decisions about how to organize their cloud infrastructure.  Likewise, automation is crucial in the cloud because it allows for more eloquent control over massive systems, data fields and infrastructure itself.  Additionally, the more transparent a cloud operation is, the easier it is to maintain, improve, troubleshoot, and utilize.

While these benefits largely speak for themselves, it’s also worth mentioning that successful service strategizing itself can lead to a couple of important advantages.  One, flexible innovations (developed through service strategies) can be more rapidly deployed to meet upcoming and spur-of-the-moment developments / project-to-market considerations.  Two, a better set of strategies for managing cloud services can also significantly help to reduce costs / operating expenses; which is always a good thing.

OK, so how can ITIL help in devising a cloud strategy?  
Though the current “build” of ITIL doesn’t contain very many specific (or strategic) references to cloud computing, there are still a number of ways that ITIL can enhance, or rather, assist in devising a cloud strategy.  It’s important to approach cloud strategy  from as many different angles as possible, including from an ITIL perspective; this is especially true if your organization is still reliant on a grid computing / networking model (or has yet to fully transition to the cloud).

  • Utilizing cloud computing as a means of attracting, maintaining, and accumulating a consumer base (or as a supplement to current methods)
  • Deploying the cloud or individual services (or groups thereof) as an peripheral service
  • Utilizing ITIL organizational themes to amalgamate various cloud services into one service offering
  • Allowing one’s consumers to pick and choose from a list of available cloud services (even from multiple providers) and then in turn, combining these services into one definitive offering
  • Allowing the larger business strategy at play to be influenced by the information contained in the service portfolio, etc…

ITIL isn’t just something that can be applied to the management of infrastructure or in devising specific cloud strategies however, it also boosts (influences) the way personnel think, behave and approach duties / problem solving (with regards to infrastructure management; all types).  This is largely due to the fact that the study of ITIL is based upon both expert methodologies as well as a much more in-depth examination of the IT service lifecycle itself.  Does this mean to imply that all who train in ITIL will possess a perfect understanding of how best processes and methods might be directly applied to each station on the service lifecycle?  Obviously, that’s going to depend on how motivated individuals are at gaining a true understanding of mainstream IT infrastructure(s).

In truth, cloud computing is still a very young field with a lot of room for development and expansion.  The cloud service strategies being formulated today might end up greatly influencing the future development of the cloud itself, or even the way in which business itself is carried out.  This is just supposition of course, but it does outline that there are still amazing possibilities inherent in cloud computing, with most of them hinging around how services will be designed and deployed.

All IT professionals should be strongly considering enhancing their respective career portfolios with training and / or certification in both cloud computing and ITIL.  This is due to the fact that both are becoming increasingly prevalent across multiple markets/scenarios.  ITIL certification in particular has become something that most IT employers need to see on a resume’ in order to gain confidence in an applicant.  Likewise, cloud computing is taking the world by storm and shows no signs of slowing down.  In fact, cloud computing is expanding in all directions; reaching everyday consumers and businesses alike.

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