Building your Enterprise ITaaS, the Agile Way

David Coulter

by David Coulter

When searching for solutions that solve today’s IT challenges we often focus on products.  And, why not? Considering this method has certainly served us well in the past -- especially when evaluating things such as server or storage platforms, which we would rank based on performance, price and other specs.  However, IT as a Service (ITaaS) is a different animal.  Unlike classic IT components, ITaaS isn’t something you can buy off the shelf. It’s an operational model, wherein IT becomes the service provider, offering their services to the business in a consumable fashion.

As we discussed in earlier ITaaS posts, there are products that can help facilitate ITaaS, including Cloud Management Platforms (CMPs). CMPs lay the ground work for ITaaS use cases — from service request/catalog to server provisioning and chargeback; but that just scratches the surface for most IT shops, who deal with the reality of managing multiple technologies and vendors. To unlock the true potential of ITaaS and deliver richer IT services you must embrace automation, leveraging tools such as workflow orchestration engines.

OK, but what does this have to do with agility?  While some may argue that CMPs are synonymous with the ITaaS platform, let’s separate the two for a moment. Consider your enterprise ITaaS platform as the product itself, just as cloud service providers market their services, and not the underlying hosting technologies. This shift in perspective allows you to view your ITaaS platform as a software product that can be molded, enhanced and even powered by a CMP, along with associated technologies such as orchestration engines and web portals. Think in terms of features, releases and roadmaps. Given this broader perspective, agile methodologies can be applied.

An agile methodology enables better customer satisfaction through frequent releases, a focus on simplicity and customer collaboration. Instead of approaching ITaaS as a monolithic vendor solution, envision it as a solid foundation with meaningful features that can be added for your customers over time.  The approach is the same whether you’re enabling a new out-of-the-box CMP feature or creating custom-developed orchestration workflows and integrations. Also, be sure to implement or carve out a test environment for release testing to help minimize risk to your production environment.

The net result is faster time-to-market and the increased ability to rapidly demonstrate value. In contrast, if you attempt to do too much, too quickly, you may risk having a project implode before it ever launches.  Don’t let your ITaaS platform become shelf-ware. Collaborate with your customers. Evolve your platform beyond the base capabilities. Design, develop, test and release!

Are you extending out-of-the-box capabilities from Cloud Management Platforms?