Tuesday, February 21, 2012

IT-as-a-Service: Resources and Pointers

IT-as-a-Service. Possibly another buzzword that may reach the peak of hype and then fade away in a millisecond. But even if so, this new concept will persist by some other name.

Unlike IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, etc. ITaaS isn't a technology model. It's a new mind-set and approach to delivering enterprise IT services - where IT operates and competes for "business" as-would a service provider.And, like a commercial SP entity, it actually tries to encourage service consumption, rather than discourage it.

This is in contrast to the stereotypical IT department that runs a bottleneck help-desk, issues locked-down equipment, charges the enterprise with a flat operating "tax", and is organized along purely technological lines.

This "new" IT thinks more like a business - not that it needs to deliver a profit per se, but that it's more customer (line-of-business) focused, understands its costs, and "competes" against alternatives that users now have outside the enterprise (a.ka. Shadow IT). The new IT thinks Self-Service provisioning, Choice Computing (BYoD), monitors variable costs and unit consumption, and is organized to deliver services, not technologies. 

ITaaS Model - Components and Pointers

When IT begins thinking about becoming an "internal" service provider, there are 3 conceptual models that need to shift - (a) how services are generated and consumed, (b) a shift in how technology is leveraged, and (c) a change in operations and organization.

Where can you find the most authoritative information about ITaaS?  I'd like to believe that EMC is leading the way with, among others, our own IT Department.  But resources abound on the topic...  I've begun to collect useful pointers from many points of view. And, from time-to-time, I will update this list with additional pointers, insights and success stories.

ITaaS Overview
Don't take my word for it. Others are beginning to write about ITaaS, its benefits, its positive impact on business agility, and about where to start your plan:
IT Leadership
If the enterprise is to undertake the ITaaS transformation, then senior IT leadership - as well as line-of-business leadership - has to be 100% behind it.  But the traditional CIO-as-Technologist model necessarily has to give way to CIO-as-businessman.  Running IT like a business means complementing technology with knowledge of how the enterprise's core business runs, IT financial management, IT organizational transformation, and even IT services-supply-chain management.

IT Financial Transparency
A key characteristic of transformation to ITaaS is the ability to understand the costs of delivering individual services, and thus be able to allocate and price them appropriately. Once variable IT costs are understood, measured, and shared with the business, IT has a higher stake in ensuring that services are delivered and priced efficiently and transparently.  And, by creating and assigning per-unit costs to services, IT can more efficiently match supply with consumption. Ultimately, improved IT financial transparency ensures more accurate decisions made both by IT and lines of business.
 Reinventing the IT Consumption Model
In a transformed IT environment, the goal is to drive an increase in service consumption by the business. The shift also includes IT viewing its business model as a profit center rather than a cost center, with more of a commercial mindset.  To accomplish this, IT must change its operating model to simplify access to services, and to facilitate delivery of services – regardless of whether they are internally or externally generated. And, if IT is to become this ‘broker’ of services, it must develop a customer-centric supply-chain approach to delivery of services that the business demands, no matter their origin.

Transforming Organization, Roles, Skills
As the IT organization transforms itself to become more like a service provider to the enterprise, internal IT skills, roles, and even the entire organizational structure will necessarily change. Traditional technology specialization areas will make way for more general, services-centric roles. Skills will shift from specialists who craft technology stacks, to generalists who manage holistic systems that produce user-centric services.  Service product managers (both in-bound and out-bound) will also be in demand to maintain value alignment with line of business users.
Success Stories
IT-as-a-Service is still new, and most companies who have embarked on the transformation are still mid-stream. But a few are making their journeys public. Here are a few I've found.
Analyst Perspectives
Industry analysts are beginning to adopt the "Run IT like a business" perspective, and even the ITaaS label. Here are some pointers (some reports require Analyst website logins/subscriptions)


    IT Support Services said...

    It is a valuable and impressive post. I'll be back later for some great reading...

    Anonymous said...

    This is a great collection of reference articles. Thanks for bringing it all into one place.

    Paulo Prazeres