Information Technology Infrastructure Library

For any government organization, migrating IT assets to the cloud is a major one. Seductive claims float through government hallways about increased efficiency combined with decreased costs. The risks and rewards are discussed endlessly by CIOs, CFOs and IT managers as they struggle with slashed budgets and demands for more savings. At the top of the risk/reward pyramid is the potential for significant cost savings that will make the big shift worth all the time and expense. So, what more than anything else will ensure that cloud migration pays off? The answer is sound governance.

Keep Control, Capture the Gain

Without a clear and effective governance model guiding every step of cloud migration – from assessment through development and implementation to management of the new service-based infrastructure – you may end up just moving IT assets to a new place. To realize gains, you must first realize something else: when you migrate to the cloud you are moving into an entirely different control environment.

Moving from direct control of IT assets to service-based control is fundamental to everything that follows. It is not just a matter of purchasing space from a cloud provider. Instead, it is a matter of moving the functions of your organization to a service-based delivery model, which requires a new way of thinking about your business functions or mission. Who needs what, when, how much, how often and where? If you can’t measure it, you can’t control it; if you can’t control it, you can’t manage it. This time-tested saying explains the central importance of reliable governance.

The ITIL Governance Model

There is one proven governance model that is specifically suited to a move to service-based virtualization. Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL®) is the global standard in IT Service Management, developed by the Office of Governance Commerce (OCG) on behalf of the British government. ITIL contains publicly available technical publications for the comprehensive planning, provision and support of IT services. Worldwide, ITIL is the most widely used best practice for IT Service Management. Adherence to ITIL can provide government organizations with the appropriate service orientation needed to effectively capture the benefits of cloud migration so they meet the universal mandates of economy, efficiency and effectiveness.

Unlike standard asset acquisition governance models, ITIL originated in and for a service-on-demand environment. This is of key importance, because government organizations migrating to the cloud find themselves in a new world where everything, from infrastructure to storage to security, is provided as-a-service (aaS). To realize the advantages and potential cost savings, an aaS mentality has to be adopted and guided by an aaS-oriented governance model, namely ITIL.

Surmount Obstacles

Typical obstacles for government CIOs pursuing a cloud migration mission are questions of why do it, what will migrate, when and at what cost, who will manage it, how and at what risk? A fundamental purpose of ITIL governance principles is to answer these questions and guide the migration around obstacles. This can be highly complex and should never be viewed as a turnkey transaction, just handing over control to a provider. Change management is built into the process and must be delineated and agreed upon in the Service Level Agreement (SLA) with the cloud service provider. Having ITIL governance as a guide helps ensure that the CIO stays in control and ends up with the reliability, availability, survivability and security his/her mission requires.

Stick to Principles

What are the guiding principles when considering moving IT assets to the cloud environment and when one wants to maintain control of the migration and capture cost savings?

  • Remember, you are moving into a service-based world-that is really what the cloud is all about, and IT budget savings is only a by-product.
  • ITIL governance metrics will help determine just what you need- don’t fall into the uneconomical mistake of just filling available cloud space.
  • Integrate effective change management throughout your organization to get the most out of migration-ITIL governance principles offer a consistent approach that helps limit risk.
  • Maintain focus on user and customer satisfaction during and after migration-apply ITIL best practices for service operation and continual service improvement.

Adopt a New Service Perspective

In summary, to realize the cost-saving and operational efficiency benefits of the cloud, organizations need to recognize and adopt a new service-based perspective, viewing all business functions through an aaS lens. One of the best possible ways to gain that new perspective is to adopt the ITIL governance model, which was designed specifically with service in mind. If you fail to accept a service perspective and just hand your IT assets over to a cloud provider without a firm governance model in place, you run the risk of simply moving assets without gaining the savings.

ITIL is a readily and easily available means to avoid the risk of lost savings. It provides a clear, proven roadmap to cloud migration. ITIL governance is what unites IT and business functions via services, and without it, a transition to the cloud is in danger of going off track. Any government agency would be well advised to at least perform a governance assessment before embarking on an IT asset migration. It is even possible ITIL is already in place in your enterprise and you may not know it.

Keith Rhodes (pictured above, left) is the chief technology officer for QinetiQ North America’s Services and Solutions sector. He can be reached at: [email protected]. Viswa Kumar (pictured above, right) is the director of quality and infrastructure standards for the Process, Quality Management & Training division of QinetiQ North America. He can be reached at [email protected].