Cloud Computing governance and ITIL

ITIL governance seems something from last century, something that is old and doesn’t add any value in this world of Cloud Computing.  But while the technology behind cloud computing is certainly a step forward in terms of what it is capable of delivering to both businesses and consumers (not to mention IT professionals), it is still sorely lacking in terms of governance.  In other words, despite all the great ways that cloud computing is able to restructure computing / networking assets, it simply isn’t structurally sound enough to replace the current model (as of yet).

IT professionals who have (a background and) experience in ITIL know the importance of having an ITIL  governance policy in place almost better than anyone.  In any IT infrastructure, cloud or otherwise, there will eventually be thousands upon thousands of processes, services and information elements that will need to be handled in an organized and highly developed fashion.  As you are no doubt aware, if even just a handful of these elements are deployed, altered, or utilized in the wrong manner, it can negatively influence the entire IT infrastructure.   In fact, if no sound ITIL governance system is place, it’s only a matter of time until serious problems are encountered.  One of the primary reasons as to why ITIL is so useful (and powerful) in a grid computing / networking model has to do with the fact that it is built upon a great number of core governance principles.  Governance policies exist to ensure that infrastructure is properly designed, tested, and implemented.  Great governance policies even dictate consistent, stabilized, ongoing supervision of infrastructure.

Once again, cloud computing is slightly lacking in this department, as it is relatively new and in truth, many of the top applications and elements are still being tested, expanded, and defined.  However, great strides are being made every single day to create and craft rules and systems for cloud governance.  In the mean time, perhaps we should deploy ITIL to assist in cloud governance?

While it would be inaccurate to assume that ITIL governance could (currently) offer a complete solution for cloud governance, it should be noted that it can still provide priceless information in the form of:

  • Service Level Management (SLM)
  • Ongoing Service Validation and Testing
  • Crisis Resolution
  • Management of Demand(s) and Capacity
  • Management of Modification(s)

Decision making, as it applies to IT, is never a simple process; but perhaps it can be demystified through the application of service level management.  Through SLM, it is possible to gather consistent data (often referred to as “metrics”) about your cloud infrastructure.  Once enough data has been collected, those who are capable or tasked with decision making duties will gain a much greater insight into the inner machinations of their cloud and therefore be able to better strategize their available assets.

Likewise, as with any IT infrastructure, it’s vitally important that established service policies, levels and descriptions are being covered.  Individual services comprise the backbone of cloud computing and deliver crucial processes which must remain active and effective at all times.

ITIL governance can also assist in cloud governance by contributing to crisis resolution scenarios.   It’s somewhat of an understatement to say that a cloud computing network is vast and dispersed; often times, it can be somewhat difficult to ascertain even where any particular issue is originating from.  In order to quickly identify problems (and put elements in place to prevent future ones from occurring) we have to have a “game plan” in place for dealing with all manner of crises; this is of course another area where ITIL is useful.

Perhaps the biggest way that cloud computing differs from its predecessor is in its use of service metering.  This is to say that cloud computing services are purchased or deployed in accordance with some pricing stipulations, and limitations of data use / transfer.  Given that cloud computing is “metered”, if must also possess a system for gauging both capacity and demand (so that critical system, processes and services can be delivered without interruption).

Lastly, there is significant concern over how to best handle the introduction of new software elements into a cloud infrastructure; or, management of modification(s).  ITIL can also assist in this department as it is crucial that any new elements being introduced into an infrastructure don’t jeopardize the integrity of other crucial processes.

Cloud Computing FoundationAs you can see, ITIL governance still has some value in the cloud, even at its current level of integration (which is still largely tied to pre-cloud infrastructure).  Formalized study of ITIL, including certification, is not only a great idea for serious IT professionals, it is becoming expected.  ITIL represents the wisdom of several generations of IT masters, theorists and thinkers; it only follows logic that if you want to better understand the career field itself, that you should absorb what these people have discovered.  Likewise, cloud computing is fast becoming an institution among a growing segment of the global population; therefore, as an IT professional, training and certification in it is also highly advised (for maintaining competence and job security).

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