Cloud Management

This is a continuation (well, at least sort of..) to my previous blog text, Cloud Services – the Business perspective.

Like I wrote, Cloud Services have rushed into the markets relatively rapidly and they have been able to fulfill some key expectations, for example in terms of Cost Efficiency, Scalability etc.

But who actually manages Cloud Services? And if Cloud Services are called “Services”, what kind of services are there available and why should anybody care about them?

From IT Services to DIY approach

According to Wikipedia, “Cloud management is the management of cloud computing products and service”.

 

DIY Cloud ManagementFor more than two decades, IT Service Management has been the way where organizations have striven for. Simply because managing the IT Services has not usually been the core business for organizations. IT Service Management is mainstream nowadays and people seem to be quite confident with it. Someone takes care of your problems (Incident Management) and requests (Request Fulfillment) and you can concentrate on doing what you are being paid for.

if Cloud Services are called “Services”, what kind of services are there available

If so, why is it that I keep hearing from several companies offering Cloud Services: “There is this nice&neat User Interface where you can easily start new virtual servers and also ramp them down when you don’t need ’em anymore”.

Self-provisioning, Self-help, Self-this-and-that?

Now that we have finally reached the level where a user does no longer need to solve his/her IT-related problems on his/her own, for some reason Cloud companies are accelerating the pace with providing more and more tools for the user to start/stop virtual servers and handle storage capacity in Cloud environment!

“It’s easy, just like that.. just click this, define this and that and you’re good to go!”

  • Thanks, I’ll give it a try.. but what if
    • I need an L3 connection from my internal network to this cloud environment which lies in a public internet? I’m not even sure what is the correct source IP-address.
    • I’m not quite sure how much more capacity I need for this certain system?
    • There are 2000 users who should be able to access the system in the cloud environment? Who grants accesses for them and takes care of the overall Access Management?
    • I want a comprehensive, formal report in some other form than the one being available. How do I get it?

Doesn’t seem to be so “easy, just like that.. just click this, define this and that and you’re good to go!”

As long as you are using some software you are buying as an SAAS (Software-as-a-Service) model and you don’t need any integration to your other systems, using Cloud is a trivial thing as everything is usually ready-made for you. You only need to start using the Software (as-a-Service). But when it comes down to integrations, it’s totally different story.

Doesn’t seem to be so “easy, just like that.. just click this, define this and that and you’re good to go!”

User-Friendliness?

In my opinion, the problem with lack of User-Friendliness is built into the history of the IT industry: Too often we tend to take a sole technical viewpoint to new things. Yes, we do recognize the pros and benefits behind a new tech, but we often fail to take the end-user’s perspective into account.

The irony is, that for at least some 20-25 years, the IT Industry has been speaking highly for IT Services, and now we are suggesting that for some unknown reason users should start managing the cloud environment more or less themselves?

Too often we tend to take a sole technical viewpoint to new things.

Who needs Cloud Service Management? No, who doesn’t!?

Ok, say, you have a small IT-company with <10 personnel: in your case it might be a good idea to handle the Cloud Computing issues yourselves. For any other company my suggestion is simple: Use your IT Service Provider’s helping hand! Just like TechTargets puts it, A distinguished IT Services provider can use cloud service management and cloud monitoring tools to maximize performance, reduce costs and differentiate their cloud services.

Services

The Cloud Services Management includes a set of services that are already mostly known from traditional IT Service Management:

 

  • Cloud Service Level Agreement
  • Cloud Capacity Management
  • Change Management
  • Configuration Management
  • Incident Management
  • Access Management
  • Reporting (including billing)
  • etc.

 

Quality Service ProvisionIn other words: Cloud Service Management expands the existing ITSM repertoire. It’s not the 7th wonder of the World, but a significant part of the modern IT Services Package. In short: there’s usually no point in provoking customers try managing the Cloud environment themselves. It just doesn’t pay off the effort.

 

 

 

Common Misconceptions of Cloud Services

I was participating the annual Social & Healthcare ICT Conference here in Finland on May this year. There were a large number of phenomenal speeches from heavy-duty ICT Healthcare professionals. But I also happened to hear some basic-level Misconceptions of the Cloud -related issues when speaking with Healthcare professional on the corridors.. To this end I’d like to take the chance to address ’em and provide some corrections. So here we go:

  • Data Centres? We don’t need data centres at all any more because we are using Cloud Services!
  • – Ehm.. what do You think, where’s the actual computing done, and where’s the Storage? Somewhere over the rainbow, in the Stratosphere perhaps?
  • – Seriously speaking, computing, storage services, database operations etc. are still taking place in some physical place and that is a surprise for some people.
  • We are only using Virtual Servers, we don’t need to deal with hardware servers on any level any more.
  • Yeah, right.. At the end of the day also Virtual Servers are running on physical servers and not in an empty space..
  • I can take everything to the Cloud – there’s no need for an on-premise solution whatsoever.
  • Not so fast.. Some of the computing must still happen on-premise. For example Network latency might hinder you from using an autopiloted car and that’s why the AI service must be placed somewhere in the car and not in some Cloud Environment (Data Centre) some ~10000kms away from your car.

I know, it’s so easy to laugh at people’s misunderstandings and misconceptions. Even though I listed those three examples above with a little bit of sarcastic touch on them, I definitely absolutely don’t want to laugh at anyone. Given the way in which Cloud Services are advertised nowadays, it’s not so surprising. Maybe we Service Providers could be more clear in Cloud Services advertising and communications..

 

Pictures are from Pixabay.

7 ways to improve your Cost Optimization

Why do organizations find Cost Optimization so important right now?

ICT industry is changing rapidly and especially new, small and agile companies are emerging on the market, challenging traditional IT-companies with their new P&S ideas and enthusiasm. Traditional companies have of course been making their own actions but it takes time, for example IBM:

“”The results imply that IBM’s transformation from legacy IT to next-generation, higher-value services is likely to take longer than what consensus has expected,” BI’s Rana wrote in a note.”

That has led to the current situation where traditional IT giants are constantly examining their (ITIL® defined) Service Catalogues for the current offerings but even more their Service Portfolio for new Services and maybe even some Services that have been once already buried.

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Focusing from Cost Cutting to Cost Optimization

While I fully support the idea of going through the Service Catalogue and Service Portfolio, there is always a (moderately big) risk of drowning the child with the bathwater while washing the little toddler so to say. – Meaning that by hunting down the low-value Services one might not be able to spot the pearls and thus part of the future revenue might be gone with the wind for good.

So be careful when doing cost cutting cost optimization.

– Meaning that by hunting down the low-value Services one might not be able to spot the pearls and thus part of the future revenue might be gone with the wind for good.

Like I stated in the beginning, competition on the IT market has tightened a lot in the last, say, 5-7 years. Companies have been cutting their r&d budgets and turning their backs on science. Even though it’s understandable that the costs have to go down if your business goes down, I still want to encourage companies to make cost optimization instead of just single-mindedly cutting costs down. Of course it’s much more easier to instruct departments to cut down costs, say, 20% by the end of the next fiscal year, but by doing this the companies are jeopardizing their future prospects.

I still want to encourage companies to make cost optimization instead of just single-mindedly cutting costs down. 

I know that’s much more easily said than done. So how to approach the issue?

7 ways to improve your Cost Optimization:

  1. Go through your Service Catalogue in-depth to make sure you have a rock solid understanding and information about your current, up-to-date Service Offering.
  1. Go through your Service Portfolio in-depth to make sure you have a rock solid understanding and information about your new Services development.
    • After intense work on examining through the Service Catalogue and Service Portfolio you can take a step forward and carry out the necessary operations with cost optimization: termination of certain (less-than-break even value etc.) Services whenever possible.
    • Bear in mind: while some Services might appear poor on the first sight they might turn out to be essential in order to enable some other Services to run.
  1. Ask new offers from your 3rd party Service Providers and Vendors whenever possible to see if there is something you can save money with.
  1. Pay attention to your fixed costs and seek for saving targets there in the first place.
  1. If you really need to lay off your workforce, do it by all means respectively.
    • Remember that laying off people hurts your reputation as an employer.

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(Don’t do it like this!)

 

  1. Note that it’s the big numbers that count!
    • Don’t use too much energy with chasing costs caused by the pastries your employees have eaten, but focus on stopping the wasting of your raw material. There’s a hilarious story behind this, I’ll write it down here one day.
  1. Even if it was your worst financial situation ever, keep on investing into the future (remember Service Strategy and Service Design) and keep on marketing. Don’t starve yourself to death.
    • If you stop innovating and developing, and stop marketing your Services and Products, you will for sure run your business into bankruptcy. There needs to be certain courage and faith into the future, otherwise you can stop all your activities at once.

But you are actually cutting costs down!?

It’s obvious that also by utilizing the cost optimization approach you may end up lowering your costs – even greatly. But the biggest difference between cost cutting and cost optimization is, that in cost optimization there’s always a reason involved.

I also like to think that when doing cost optimization, you really, truly, optimize your costs. It doesn’t mean you go buy services or products with lowest prices available, but you buy whatever fits best into your business!

the biggest difference between cost cutting and cost optimization is, that in cost optimization there’s always a reason involved.

Watch out for possible pitfalls with the cheapest price

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“Special price! Only for you my Friend!” The sentence might be familiar from Bazaars in the Middle East. There you could be making stellar deals by ending up paying only for 2-3 times as much as the local people do for something very useful.. ..But in general I would be careful when buying Service with the lowest prices – especially if the lowest price is significantly lower than the average price; the Service Provider could be struggling in keeping their head over the SLA-threshold and failing in doing that, so you could get your Service for free – because of the sanctions they pay you. But did you ever really get the Service? Wasn’t there a 48hrs unplanned Service Outage during the weekend two weeks ago?

did you ever really get the Service?

In the worst case you might be out of the business because of your Service Provider’s lower-than-the-low performance. At that point it doesn’t help much to know that you didn’t pay too much for the Service..

My message is: Cost optimization is the word of the day. Make use of it thoroughly. When buying, compare prices carefully and be positive you understand what you are buying and what is included in the fixed price and be wary of falling into possible pitfalls with the cheapest prices. When optimizing costs.. Start with reading the chapter “7 things to improve your Cost Optimization” I wrote for you.

Pictures are from Pixabay.

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