Today IT service provider Unitiv published a terrific and cogent post at the Cloud Expo web site listing four steps to good management of your “internal” cloud.*
Regardless, it’s an excellent summary of what to cover when managing cloud at your organization, and in what order of priority. Read it! It’s quick and to the point. And now let me add something about the first item in Unitiv’s list:
Start with your current quality of service and cost metrics.
Do you have these metrics? Do you know your service levels and how to measure them? Is it on these terms that you and your whole team evaluate projects, plans, and business needs? My IT research work over the years showed that in roughly two thirds of the case, the answer is “no” to all of these questions.
This issue actually has nothing to do with cloud specifically. But note that Unitiv placed service levels in their first cloud management principle. I agree, and my first point here is to take it more broadly than that. Service levels should be your first IT principle. Period.
But secondly I want to mention one more thing: This doesn’t have to be hard.
If you’re not experienced with using metrics for service levels (other than the most basic one, availability), don’t let that stop you from trying. Measuring productivity, for example, is notoriously problematic. The point isn’t to get it right or even very good when you first try. The point is to make it part of the conversation. The four elements of the IT service level — risk, availability, productivity, and overhead—should all be addressed in IT decision-making, especially in discussion with the rest of the organization outside of IT. And you need to address them with metrics: numbers, even if they’re “funny numbers” to start. Only then can everyone truly judge return on the IT investment, and justify that investment, whether it’s in hardware, software, services, or staff.
And with that baseline everything becomes possible, including the so-hard-to-define wonders of cloud.
* I’d drop the “internal” since my philosophy is that ultimately there is no internal cloud. I’ll write more about that later, but briefly, my own point of view is that the cloud environment that’s internal today will add external cloud elements and become hybrid very quickly, soon enough that you shouldn’t even bother thinking about it as truly external.