Critical Design Elements for the Cloud

Transition planning

A second consideration for success involves planning the process and procedures for transitioning the services to operations, especially if cloud computing is an option. Solid technology solutions are a key differentiator in the marketplace, and generally, IT organizations are masters of technology. However, the right technology design is not enough. Planning also how to manage the changes, releases and the information related to the new services is critical to a smooth transition, as well as foundational to enabling operational support. Think about these types of questions in your design:

What types of changes will be required? In answering this question, think about the service management framework of services, process, people and tools. Take into account that you are designing a service and not just the infrastructure that supports it. Processes and people need to be aligned in a manner that leads to success. Technology-minded people are accustomed to having tools help them deliver services, but does everyone understand how the tools will be leveraged to deliver a service?

Can changes be bundled into a release? Reducing the impact of changes can often be achieved by bundling changes to lessen the frequency of major changes. A release approach includes designing the essential training and communications for a smooth transition. Appropriate levels of testing will be required to ensure the defined service level requirements are being met. If these considerations are not addressed in the design phase, there could be a delay in transitioning the services to operations.

What information will you need? This concept rests solely in your ability to document the configuration of the services and maintain them in a suitable configuration management database. The quality, scheme and use of the information are critical to success. Designing how the information will be used, accessed, and managed will help resolve any issues along the way.

Transition planning for the cloud is no different than for any other solution; all aspects of moving the services to production must be addressed to be successful. What does change is the manner in which the services are provided. Since the cloud is a utility option for delivering services, it is critical for the IT organization to think more holistically regarding the service. The concept that cloud architectures are more converged, or boxed, if you will, implies that service provisioning should be faster and more agile. This consideration alone requires integration and bridge building between the traditional technology silos.

Supporting services in the cloud

Many organizations excel at designing for the technical functionality of the cloud, but few emphasize designing for support. The old saying of “pay me now or pay me later” applies here. Cost optimization begins with the design for support. Every aspect of operations should be included, such as how to handle incidents, problems (root cause analysis), access to services, service requests, and the ability to monitor/manage events. The more thoroughly you design for operations, the better success you will have. Questions to ask are:

How will you manage service disruptions/degradations? As issues are identified, ensure you have a process to efficiently and effectively identify, diagnose, assign, resolve and close the issues. Make sure the Service Desk has all the necessary information to support the users. Your effort in planning for operations is critical in ensuring the user experience is managed when issues occur.

How will you handle determination of root causes? Both reactive and proactive efforts to determine underlying causes of incidents will lead to improving the service reliability. Effective problem management, coupled with the tools to identify and manage performance issues will help lead to success. Your design must include addressing the process, people and tools that need to be aligned to eliminate further disruptions.

How are service requests going to be handled? In the day to day use of the service, user requests will need to be supported. This capability should be a design consideration to determine which standard requests can be provided to the user community in an automated, self-service manner. As the types of requests are identified, the design must include the method in which these services are going to be provided and supported. Ironing out the workflow for these standard requests will ensure the operations team is aware of the process for fulfillment.

Remember, speed of service provisioning is a key goal in the cloud. Defining and designing your support for the services will benefit the customer experience and increase your speed of delivery.