Self service IT: A vision of self Service IT applied to a company

A vision of a company, where self Service IT is implemented, would look like the following: the IT department is reducing the time they invest in operational tasks such as maintaining their Servers and applying patches. Core tasks of the IT department would shift towards providing more and more Services for their End-users. End-users of different departments within an Enterprise could use these services out-of-the box. This means that they don’t need to call someone in the IT department to create new instances or applications. If the marketing department needs a new website for a product launch, they go to their self-Service platform (which is ideally integrated in the internal portal) and launch the new website. The website is automatically configured and the corporate identity is applied. These services are basically available within minutes. The IT department now works on providing more templates and more applications that are available for the user out-of-the box. This reduces the time-to-market and improves the possibilities in the IT department. In many companies today, this process is done the following way today: if the marketing department needs a new website for a product launch, they talk to the IT department. The IT department now prepares an instance – either virtual or dedicated. The level of automation can vary, but often it is not that automated. The process to create a new marketing website might take some days or even weeks. IT departments are overloaded with tasks that are actually repeatable and can be automated. Automating these processes can significantly improve the IT power of an enterprise, which could lead to an uptake in competition (Stelzer & Heinrich, 2011).
Cloud Computing is a strong driver for self Service IT. If we look at popular platforms such as Amazon Web Services[1], platforms are basically easy to use. To get started with Amazon Web Services, there is nothing more needed than a valid credit card. To register, it takes some mere 10 minutes and you are ready to go. However, corporate environments don’t use these services we call public Cloud  (Meir-Huber, 2011) nowadays in most cases. Large enterprises want to have their IT often with a familiar outsourcing provider or even insourced. This is what we call private Cloud. If we talk about private Cloud, we also need a high level of self Service and all aspects of the Cloud basically apply to private Cloud as well. Right now, we have some mature platforms for private Cloud Computing. Popular companies such as VMware or Microsoft provide some of them; others are Open Source Platforms like OpenStack or Eucalyptus. These platforms basically provide Infrastructure as a Service Tools. If other platforms such as Platform as a Service or even Software as a Service are needed, this is not that mature as we see it with Infrastructure as a Service nowadays. Additional work is required to achieve that.
(Miller & Cardoso , 2012) describes self Service IT as “Internet-Based Self-Services” and outlines the importance of self Services:

“Many worldwide economies have moved away from manufacturing and became service-oriented. As a consequence, research on Internet-based Self-Services (ISS) will foster the uptake of service exports and trading since they can replace many face-to-face interactions and make service transactions more accurate, convenient and faster.” –(Miller & Cardoso , 2012)

By this,  (Miller & Cardoso , 2012) states that self Services will allow companies to replace face-to-face interactions for processes by automated processes. This will improove the company processes to be more accureate, more convenient and faster. (Miller & Cardoso , 2012) also describes that there is a research gap so far in self Services, since this type of services have to be developed by someone – and this costs time and money. They suggest the use of different tools to create self Services out of models.

self services are everywhere - even in IT

self services are everywhere – even in IT


 


Open Source Cloud Computing Platforms

In the next blog posts, I will describe some major Open Source Cloud Computing platforms. I will cover the 4 major platforms, including:

  • OpenStack
  • Eucalyptus
  • OpenNebula
  • CloudStack

This series will run alongside the self service IT series. By the end of the series, I will compare these 4 platforms with the self service attributes I will evaluate during the series. So keep on reading all of them 🙂
 

Self service IT: What is self service IT

Self Service is a traditional Element for humans. A typical and successful example of self Service is vendor machines for Drinks. Coca Cola (among others) operates a large number of self Service machines all over the world. You can find them in public places like Universities, Museums, Sport arenas and many more. People are used to deal with the machines as they are simple to use and easy to find. In today’s world, we can find a huge variety of self Service machines, which are not limited to soft drinks. There are self Service machines for snacks such as Snickers, chewing gums and you can even buy pizzas from self Service machines. Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) have revolutionized the way we deal with money. The only question is, why is there no self Service IT available yet? A self Service IT where you can use the benefits of self Service machines: insert money, press a button and get the service you need. It should be so fast and simple as with a cola vending machine. But is this type of service delivery actually possible? In the following posts we will have a look at self Service IT and what is necessary for it.
In the last years, a very popular trend in IT emerged: Cloud Computing. However, Cloud Computing is not the only popular trend, since we can see much more trends arising. The market research firm IDC calls this „the 3rd platform“. In the 3rd platform, popular trends such as Mobility, Social Media, Big Data and Cloud Computing are put together to join a „revolution“ in IT. This trend is supposed to change the IT landscape, as we know it today dramatically.

Self service IT at Intel

Self service IT at Intel


Image Copyright by Intel Free Press
 

Google AppEngine: how to add your domain

In this blog post I will explain how you can add your own domain to a Google AppEngine Application. I will start from scratch just to show you how it works.
1. First of all, make sure you are signed in into Google AppEngine. Navigate to the Dashboard and create a new Application:

Google AppEngine Dashboard with Applications

Google AppEngine Dashboard with Applications


2. Create a new application by clicking on “Create Application”. On the next dialog, you need to specify some data about the application. This is the application identifier, a description and how the application will be accessed. We’ll select the “open for all” option, as we want our application to be generally available. Once this step is completed, you will see the “application created” page.
Create a new Application on Google AppEngine

Create a new Application on Google AppEngine


3. Next, we will navigate to the overview again and select our newly created application. Navigate down until you reach the section “Administration”. Select “Application Settings”.
Google AppEngine Settings

Google AppEngine Settings


4. In the “Application Settings” Dialog for Google AppEngine, scroll down until you reach the section “Domain Setup”. Click on “Add Domain”.  You are now redirected to a page where you can configure your domain.
Google AppEngine Domain Setup

Google AppEngine Domain Setup


5. To use Google AppEngine with your domain, you need to setup a Google Apps Account. Google Apps Standard is free and that is basically what I am also using. If you already have your Google Apps Account, you can skip the next steps until step 10. Click next on the first dialogs until you reach the domain verification page. On this page, select your domain host and authentify against it.
Google AppEngine Add Domain Name

Google AppEngine Add Domain Name


Google create new Google Apps Account

Google create new Google Apps Account


 
6. You might be asked about your domain registrar. Most of the time, it simply says “take me to …” for your domain registrar but it might also ask you for your registrar’s name in case you couldn’t be identified.
Google Apps select the domain registrar

Google Apps select the domain registrar


7. Log in to your domain registrar.
Google Apps log in to GoDaddy

Google Apps log in to GoDaddy


8. Authorise Google Apps to identify with your registrar
Verify Google Apps to change to Godaddy

Verify Google Apps to change to Godaddy


9. The domain verification and associated update of domain settings might take a while (up to 48hrs). However, you can now go back to the Dialog where it says “add Domain”.
Google AppEngine add the Google Apps Domain

Google AppEngine add the Google Apps Domain


10. Enter the domain name in the text box and click “Add”. You are now redirected to Google Apps, where your permission is required to use this domain. Simply click on “Agree” on the Terms.
11. Now you are on the page with the domain administration. Click on “add new URL”
Google AppEngine add the top-level domain with "www"

Google AppEngine add the top-level domain with “www”


12. Normally, you can only add some subdomains. However, this might not be that smart all time so I would recommend adding something like a top-level domain for it.  You can do this by adding “www” on the dialog.
13. Now you have to do some manual steps with your domain registrar – e.g. Godaddy. Google explains what you have to do so simply follow these steps.
14. You are ready to host your AppEngine Application on your domain now! Have fun!