Customer-Centric Cloud Provisioning. White Paper

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1 Customer-Centric Cloud Provisioning

2 Customer-Centric Cloud Provisioning Most IT organizations tend to think more about infrastructure -centric activities that are not clearly connected with business value. Introduction Most businesses today are completely dependent on IT. Yet most IT organizations cannot articulate their costs and benefits in terms of business value. They tend to think more about infrastructure-centric activities that are not clearly connected with business value and hence are of little interest to the business. IT is not perceived as a business asset but rather as a liability to be managed. Instead of asking what cloud means to you, think about what cloud means to your customers: self-service, flexible, efficient, and reliable shared infrastructure serving up on-demand services with a clearly defined cost structure. Understanding your customers and these expectations are key in understanding how to deliver on them. This document discusses how self-service cloud provisioning can serve as a pragmatic customer-centric approach for managing the proliferation of public and private clouds. It discusses customer expectations, critical success factors, and key metrics required for a successful implementation of such an offering. Infrastructure-Centric Virtual Sprawl Virtual machines carry many of the same sources of management overhead associated with physical servers. Administrators must keep track of who owns them, what they are being used for, how they are configured, and what resources they require. Because virtual machines are so easily created, they rapidly proliferate. Eventually the accumulation of this management overhead exceeds the capacity of administrators, and virtual sprawl fully sets in. IT spends more time maintaining virtual infrastructure than servicing its customers. The resulting bottleneck creates unplanned expenses, delays, and eventually stalled projects. Yet virtual sprawl is not caused by cloud technologies; it is the result of inadequate management exasperated by the ease with which cloud technologies proliferate. This serves to illustrate that effective adoption of public and private cloud is less about bottoms-up cloud technologies and more about top-down consistent operational engagement and IT governance. To be successful, IT will require a customer-centric approach to service delivery that encompasses traditional IT services as well as cloud technologies. This in turn fuels demand for effective policy-driven automation to streamline delivery, contain proliferation, and manage cost. IT should aspire to demonstrate that its services contribute to the end goals of its customers. However, most IT departments spend their time managing the needs of the infrastructure. This leaves very little time for the innovation required to service the business. Yet the infrastructure must be managed. So the challenge lies in transforming the infrastructure-centric focus of IT into a new identity based on innovation, integrity, and customer intimacy. ServiceNow 2

3 The goal of cloud provisioning is to create structure and value around customer interaction that strives to elevate the relationship to one of greater value. Cloud Provisioning Reference Architecture It is not unusual for customers to tell ServiceNow that it takes their administrators minutes to create a new virtual asset from a base image. However, the typical hand-off time to the requesting user averages 7-10 days. This huge gap from creation to hand-off is largely filled with empty time: People blocked waiting for resources and brokering the request between teams prior to hand-off to the requesting user. These users do not care where their request is hung or the technical fulfillment process. They care about whether or not their request was understood and when it will be fulfilled. Figure 1 - Cloud Provisioning Reference Architecture The Cloud Provisioning Reference Architecture (Figure 1 above) presents an integrated approach to cloud provisioning. It starts with the customer and illustrates how core IT Operations and Governance processes should be aligned to support them. The Operations path aligns customers with IT Operations Management (ITOM) processes and tools focused on consistent and reliable service delivery. The Governance path illustrates how IT establishes control and accountability, makes decisions, manages risk, and communicates outside of IT. Operations and Governance should not be separate experiences for IT, they should be aligned with the customer and operate from a common data-driven understanding of services and operational processes the configuration management database (CMDB). Know Your Customer Successful cloud provisioning starts with knowing your customers and their expectations. Ensure that everyone has a clear and consistent view of the services IT offers. Workshops targeted at creating structure and service-centric alignment can be helpful. Who should be involved? IT staff, management, and especially customers of IT should participate. Keep the meetings top-down focused and strive to establish a clear and consistent view of what a service catalog is and what it will deliver. Do not simply understand what virtual resources your customers want. Seek to understand why they want them. Too often, cloud provisioning projects are designed to minimize the interaction between IT and its customers. Offer virtual resources that match customer demand; do not simply throw self-service automation at the customer. The goal of cloud provisioning is not to avoid interacting with customers; it is quite the opposite. The goal is to create structure and value around customer interaction that strives to elevate the relationship to one of greater value. Understand how your customers want to pay for the services they consume. It is a common misconception that modern IT is not ready for next-generation subscription billing models. In reality, many IT organizations are finding that their business partners have already begun paying for these services from external providers. Options IT could offer include pay-as-you go plans, subscriptions, fixed price plans, and even free services. Where possible, base plans on usage, not on the cost of the infrastructure. Remember that customers think in terms of services and the value they derive from them, not infrastructure and the cost it imposes. ServiceNow 3

4 The service catalog should deliver a uniquely identifiable and consistent user experience for customers to request any and all services IT offers. Self-Service Establish a service catalog as the front door to IT. It should deliver a uniquely identifiable and consistent user experience for customers to request any and all services IT offers. Do not force customers to approach the catalog on IT s terms. Create an initial user experience that is simple and well aligned with the business. It is not unusual for ServiceNow customers to redesign the external appearance of their service catalog to align with corporate branding. This sends a clear message that IT services are offered in support of the business. Promote the service catalog as the single user experience of IT that everyone can rally around. Clearly articulate the criteria for establishing services in the service catalog. Each service should have a clearly identified owner and Service Level Agreement (SLA). Remind everyone that the service catalog has not been created as a way for IT to request services for itself. Develop and maintain a list of services with clearly defined owners, supporting IT components, service models, configuration Items, SLAs, and subscribing customers. Services should be characterized in terms of service levels and desired outcomes by the customer. What service am I getting? How much will it cost? How will it be customized to meet my unique needs? What sort of availability, response time, and support will I experience? What operational support processes are in place to support me? Design services that meet the specific needs of established consumer groups. The technology should always support the need of the customer. What the service needs to do is more important than how the underlying technologies are implemented to deliver the solution. A leading indicator of a well-designed service is the amount of free-form information users have to provide to characterize their requests. Consider a scenario where a requesting user submits a request via an message. Someone from IT has to read the and interpret the user s request. Since all requests submitted in this fashion could be drastically different, the resulting deliverable will be unique to the requestor and hence highly customized and manually delivered. Had there been a well-designed service that met users specific needs, there would be no need for a highly customized service. Requests could be fulfilled via automation. Incrementally add products and services to the service catalog as you demonstrate value to the business. Do not over-commit and under-deliver. Remember that trust is slowly earned over time but quickly lost when commitments are not kept. Automate Everything Simply put: Get IT out of the way! Automate the fulfillment of services as completely as possible. Automated services will be delivered more promptly, provide a more consistent customer experience, and have a lower cost structure than those delivered manually. Automated services can scale capacity up or down at a speed that more closely matches customer demand than manually delivered services. This makes efficient use of elastic resources, permitting services to scale on demand. Customers can add or remove resources as needed without the manual intervention of IT. Hide implementation details and enable a completely automated response to a self-service request. For example, technical workflow associated with automated provisioning of virtual resources can produce huge amounts of data. These details are only meaningful to IT; only key stages in the delivery are relevant to self-service users looking to understand when their orders will be completed. There should be little need for customers to know their requests are being fulfilled against an elastic pool of shared resources. The self-service user experience should be sufficiently customized so as to give the impression of individuality to the consumer. ServiceNow 4

5 When new infrastructure and services such as virtual machines are deployed, they should carry with them all IT policies needed to manage them. IT Operations Management IT Operations Management (ITOM) has traditionally been a challenge for IT. Disparate management tools used within technology silos have rarely been consistently integrated into IT operational processes. As a result, IT Operations seldom has the customer focus needed to connect infrastructure-centric activities with its customers. This reinforces the negative perception of IT as a cost-center rather than a center for agility, innovation, and business value. Consider a scenario where a provisioning request for a virtual resource takes 10 minutes to fulfill. Then another request for the same resource takes 30 minutes to fulfill. Then another request takes 2 days to fulfill. The root cause of the variance in delivery times could easily be the workload and priorities of engineers sent to fix failures in the provisioning process. Self-service users do not care about this. All they see is that for the same request IT took anywhere from 10 minutes to 2 days to complete the work. IT Operations should have a clear directive to provide a predictable and consistent user experience. Work should be prioritized according to customer service levels, not the individual priorities of technology silos. When service commitments are out-of-bounds, IT Operations should focus on restoring service as a first priority. When new infrastructure and services such as virtual machines are deployed, they should carry with them all IT policies needed to manage them. This could include VM leases or default change management policies based on the environment where the VM is provisioned. Sometimes service catalog items will have a managed or unmanaged attribute associated with their cost structure. Managed services include a commitment of service from IT, along with increased cost for this commitment. The costs and level of management should balance one another to meet customer expectations. Unmanaged services may have a lower subscription cost but, in contrast to managed services, come with no commitment of service beyond what IT is prepared to include in the base service price. In addition, the need for managed change and automated systems configuration is ever-present in an agile IT infrastructure. IT needs to understand how to make changes without disrupting services. IT Service Management Support the services in the service catalog using best practice processes. This almost goes without saying. However, cloud provisioning projects built in a separate silo from IT processes typically wind up focused more on technical fulfillment of requests rather than how to take care of customers. Do not forget that the concept of virtual sprawl discussed earlier is a consequence of poor management of cloud resources. In many cases, the role of IT has become highly devalued. Business partners have opted to contract directly with external service providers rather than do business with their legacy IT partners. However, this can be little more than a symptom of a broader problem. Cloud services are much like virtual machines. They are typically easy to provision but carry with them management debt that, when integrated across the business, can rapidly become significant. Treat the service catalog as a commercial web shopping experience. Through reporting, understand what products customers are ordering and the performance of automation to deliver them. Proactively study consumption of the services offered in the catalog; make adjustments as needed to optimize their utilization and drive customer satisfaction. ServiceNow 5

6 What is more important than an impressive list of metrics is the reason for collecting metrics and acceptance of these measurements by the business. CMDB The CMDB is a fundamental component of the ITIL Configuration Management process. It is also a key component of the single system of record for a customer s interaction with IT. It should contain the information needed to operationally manage and govern these services including, but not limited to: The nature of the services and the terms of their use The cost of the services to IT The cost of the services to IT s customers Which customers are eligible to request specific IT services How the services are delivered and who supports them Instances of requests for the services and their status Information about the status of persistent services (such as VMs), what they are being used for, and when they will be retired The configuration of infrastructure elements that support the service Without a CMDB, IT has to constantly maintain records (spreadsheets, etc.) and manipulate data in disparate systems in order to deliver services. Reporting becomes a massive endeavor to integrate scattered data. Moreover, without a consistent definition of the services IT supports, there is only limited opportunity to deploy automation. Logically linking the services in the service catalog and CMDB components provides automation the guidance needed to fully unlock the value of ITIL processes. Metrics of Success Public and private cloud provisioning driven by automation will make rich data available for use in building reports. This data (essentially usage metrics) can drive multiple payment models used for measuring and accounting for services. This in turn can be used to create different pricing plans and models. Look to the CMDB to house this data and provide context for the services IT delivers and how customers consume them. The list of metrics below is not intended to be exhaustive. What is more important than an impressive list of metrics is the reason for collecting metrics and acceptance of these measurements by the business. IT is notorious for making all sorts of measurements for its own consumption, few of which have any value (let alone meaning) to a partner in the business who cares about business value. Category Agility Efficiency Flexibility Reliability Metric Time from receipt of request to hand-off of a resource Percentage of catalog items whose fulfillment requires manual intervention Number of resources with assigned leases Number of resources associated with automated fulfillment Number of different catalog items hosted on shared virtual infrastructure Time from receipt of request to reconfiguration of a virtual resource Percentage of requests submitted for fulfillment through automation that required human intervention Percentage of submitted requests successfully fulfilled without incident Mean time to repair incidents impacting the delivery of catalog items ServiceNow 6

7 Make commitments and proactively demonstrate accountability by using reports driven by key process metrics. Reporting, if appropriately implemented, remains an excellent way to establish customer intimacy. Understand which metrics your customer most values that reflect the agility, efficiency, flexibility, and reliability of IT services. Add metrics and categories as needed to create the customer feedback loop necessary to create alignment and foster customer intimacy. The reports should directly relate to the operational and governance processes. Think critically about this data. Why are you collecting a given metric? How is the metric evaluated, and can we automate its collection? Can we formalize a given metric in a Service Level Agreement? What do we do when the value falls outside of expectations? What do we do when the results exceed expectations? How do the metrics we are collecting map to operational support processes? Are there governance key risk indicators (KRIs) or key control indicators (KCIs) associated with one or more metrics? What about so-called intangible or indirect metrics that are difficult or impossible to measure? Acknowledge they exist. Even if they cannot be measured, it is important to document what these metrics are and agree they are intangible. Establish a clear understanding of why they are not being evaluated. Even if the only data that can be collected for these metrics is anecdotal, there is still value in collecting them. Challenge teams to find ways to identify ways to measure them. Who knows working with customers might bring opportunities to the surface that would have otherwise gone unexplored ServiceNow, Inc. All rights reserved. ServiceNow believes information in this publication is accurate as of its publication date. This publication could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. The information is subject to change without notice. Changes are periodically added to the information herein; these changes will be incorporated in new additions of the publication. ServiceNow may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described in this publication at any time. Reproduction of this publication without prior written permission is forbidden. The information in this publication is provided as is. ServiceNow makes no representations or warranties of any kind, with respect to the information in this publication, and specifically disclaims implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. ServiceNow is a trademark of ServiceNow, Inc. All other brands, products, service names, trademarks or registered trademarks are used to identify the products or services of their respective owners. SN-WP-CP

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