“Which services should I include in my service catalog?” a customer recently asked me.
There is no silver bullet here, even when considering a purely Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) scenario in a private cloud, not to mention more complex multi-sourcing options. I’ve already described the central role of the service catalog as a key success factor for a cloud initiative (see my blog on system thinking in the cloud world), emphasizing that services should be correctly designed from the user’s standpoint. In most cases, common IaaS can fulfill a first release of services, reflecting the never-decreasing need for computational power and storage capacity. However, I have also experienced low adoption of such services where bare infrastructure was simply not perceived as "service" by expected users (let me call them "customers").
Each service in the catalog is represented from two viewpoints, the technical and the user views. The first defines how building blocks should be composed in service instances. The second, the user’s view, is critical for the success of any cloud initiative, as this description should make requestors comfortable with what they will “buy” (and “pay” for). More than just providing a basic understanding of the service, bypassing obscure technicalities by adopting common wording, this description should enable users to easily recognize whether a service fits with their needs.
This is typically a hidden problem in the early stages of any private cloud initiative focused on IaaS, leading to missed expectations in service adoption. From the very beginning, leaders of Cloud initiatives should apply the same best practices that are needed to engage an external competitive market:
- A sharp definition of the “target market” and its related needs and potential
- A focused selection of in-scope cloud services
- A clear description of services in the user’s (or business) catalog
This is a sort of application of strategic marketing fundamentals to IT. It is the only way to provide a detailed answer to the question “Which services should I include in my service catalog?”
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