By Nikki Haase, Director Process Consulting and Training, RightStar
I have been asked about the implications of the cloud for ITIL. How do we implement ITIL in the cloud? How do we use the ITIL framework to manage the cloud? Some in IT believe that the cloud heralds the end of ITIL and its perceived bureaucracy. But considering the interest in deploying IT service management tools in the cloud, I expect that ITIL can and should be adapted to continue to manage IT, regardless of the platform.
Last week Serena Lambiase from BMC contacted me to see if I’d be attending Cloudforce in Washington, DC. I met her at the RemedyForce booth and was impressed to see the interest that people were showing in the application. For most of us it should be obvious that the need to manage IT services and to facilitate customer communication remains relevant.
So implementing an IT service management application in the cloud is relatively straightforward; it’s just another tool, which leverages the cloud platform. But the bigger challenge is how IT will then incorporate the tool into the larger ITIL framework to manage their cloud services.
Some of the ITIL processes may be made easier by the cloud. In the “Cloud First: Best Practices for Government” break-out session at Cloudforce, several panelists mentioned that scalability was a primary benefit of cloud services. This is aimed directly at simplifying demand and capacity management processes, and may also reduce the workload on the technical management and operations management functions. The financial management process is simplified when IT can reduce the calculation of cost for an IT service from aggregating multiple server, development, staff and application components to a single per month per user fee.
Where are the challenges, then?
- Continuity, Availability, Service Level and Supplier Management. Many of IT’s traditional responsibilities are shifting. If a service or any component of a service is sourced from the cloud, IT will be dependent on the cloud service provider to ensure that the organization’s needs are met. To put it in ITIL terms, IT will rely upon a solid supplier management process to manage underpinning contracts, which will enforce the right levels of availability and continuity.
- Change, Configuration and Security Management. In ITIL v3, we teach, “You cannot manage what you cannot control.” Cloud services can cause heartburn for those responsible for controlling IT resources – change, configuration and security managers. IT no longer holds the keys to the secured doors of the data center. If IT makes access to resources difficult for its users and even for its own staff members. Business users and IT staff alike will bypass internal resources altogether and head for the cloud.
The pace of change will not slow. As it expands to a globally recognized framework, ITIL itself is constantly debated and revised. Perhaps the framework’s greatest strength is its promotion of continual service improvement. With this focus in mind, we at RightStar can help IT organizations to adapt their change, configuration and security management processes to meet the challenges of cloud computing.