Monday, August 24, 2009

Products for Cloud Ops vs. Traditional Ops

Most in IT agree that cloud computing - while not a technology - does impact how technology is used within IT, and also implies a change in how IT operations will manage infrastructure. So it comes (to me) as no surprise that a number of traditional "point-product" IT Service Management (ITSM) products might be obviated by the new cloud computing operational paradigm - while others may morph in how they're used.

I touched on this topic a little over a year ago when looking at ITIL, ITSM and the Cloud as well as assessing how capacity and consolidation planning will likely change.

When I read Gartner's Hype Cycle for IT Operations Management 2009, I was struck by how many technology categories may really need to change (or may simply become unnecessary) in a cloud model. (BTW, I should point out that cloud computing itself is at the peak of Gartner's overall Technology Hype Cycle for 2009.)

I see roughly five dimensions for how ITSM product use might shift within a cloud model:
  • Overall increase in use, due to IT Operational needs created by the automation and dynamics within a cloud infrastructure. With more dynamic/unpredictable resource requirements, some ITSM tools may become more valuable than ever. For example, take Billing/Chargeback. Clearly any provider of a public (or internal) cloud will need this to provide the pay-as-you-go economic model, particularly as individual resource needs shift over time. Same clearly goes for tools such as Dynamic Workload Brokering, etc.

  • Overall decrease/obviation of need, due to the the automation/virtualization within a cloud infrastructure. As automation begins to manage resources within the cloud, certain closely-monitored and managed services may simply be obviated. Take for example application-specific Capacity Planning; no longer will this matter to the degree it used to - now that we have "elastic" cloud capacity. Similarly, things like event correlation _might_ no longer be needed -- at least by the end-user -- because automation shields them from need to know about infrastructure-related issues.

  • Shift in use to the cloud operator - that is, the IT Service Provider will tend to use certain ITSM tools more. For example, Asset Management, Global Capacity Management and QoS tools necessarily mean nothing to the end-user now, but may still be critically-important to the SP.

  • Shift in use to the cloud end-user - that is, the cloud end-user may tend to use certain ITSM tools more - chiefly because they do not directly 'own' or manage infrastructure anymore - just executable images. i.e. end-users using IaaS clouds will need to maintain their Application and Service Portfolio tools to manage uploadable images etc. Conversely, End-Users may no longer care about Configuration Auditing tools - since that would not be managed by the cloud provider.

  • Transition from being app-specific to environment-specific - that is, a shift from tools being used to monitor/control/manage a limited-scope application stacks, to being used to do the same across a large shared infrastructure. As above, Capacity and Consolidation Planning tools are no longer of interest to the end-user on a single-application-scale. But to the cloud operator, knowing "global" capacity and utilization is critical.
In retrospect, I can probably concoct exceptions to almost every example above. So keep in mind the examples are illustrative only!

The diagram below is also mostly conceptual; I am not an ITSM professional. But while it may be a bit of a 'hack', I'm hoping it provides food-for-thought regarding how certain tools may evolve, and where certain tools may be useful in new/different ways. I've selected a number of ITSM tools from Gartner's IT Ops Management Hype Cycle report to populate it with.

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