This week I visited the annual itSMF Netherlands event where someone asked me the question: How does ITIL address Cloud Services? Without giving this much thought my first reaction was that ITIL provides generic guidance on any type of IT services, so also on Cloud services. However I did not feel comfortable with this answer, so this question triggered me to do some more investigation on this topic.
First of all I searched for a definition of Cloud Services and found the following on the HP Labs pages:
Cloud services are accessed over the Internet via user-friendly web interfaces, they are location agnostic, they can be hosted through third party service providers and they can be quick to improve based on real-time customer feedback.
Several elements are required for cloud technologies to enable an "Everything-as-a-Service" economy:
- A shared cloud infrastructure that provides enterprise-grade security, scalability and quality of service.
- A development environment that makes it easy for enterprise application developers who are used to creating small standalone applications to in turn deliver secure- multi-tenant applications horizontally scalable to millions of users.
- An operating environment that seamlessly delivers and updates Cloud services without impacting user experience.
- An easy way to combine multiple Cloud services in order to achieve business or personal tasks.
So In my own words: we are looking at a highly automated, constantly changing and extremely scalable Internet based services managed by multiple parties.
Now reading back this definition, I have to withdraw my earlier statement "that ITIL provides generic guidance on any type of IT services, so also on Cloud services" as I think that ITIL's generic best practices are very difficult to relate to the specific characteristics of Cloud Services. To manage Cloud Services you also need a highly automated, constantly changing and extremely scalable Service Management System that can work across multiple parties. This is clearly not addressed by ITIL.
Then I asked around in the itSMF organization to see if any documentation extists and/or research is being done on Cloud Services. Unfortunately without success. I also checked the ITILv3 change log and project mandate for change (see my previous post) and found nothing on this topic This also made me wonder and worried about the level of innovation being driven by OGC, TSO, APMG and the itSMF organization... however that's a separate topic
Finally I went back to the HP Labs pages and learned that the Automated Infrastructure Lab is focused to "Develop technologies for highly automated, secure, dynamic instantiation and management of cloud computing infrastructures and services. Our two driving principles are "infinite scalability" and "security as a first-class citizen." Now this sounds very interesting and also tells me that there is still a lot of investigation and work to do on (Managing) Cloud Services...