Self service IT: Drivers and Inhibitors

In this post, I will describe success factors and inhibitors for self service IT. I will evaluate how the impact of each factor might be. There are three possibilities: high, medium and low.
The first table will display the success factors:

Factor Description Impact
Process Knowledge Self Service IT involves a lot of automation. Automation is not only done in terms of technology automation but also for processes. Therefore, it is necessary to be informed about processes in place within the enterprise. If the IT department is not aware of processes within the enterprise, knowledge about processes should be established, which involves time the employees have to invest. This is also associated with costs. Medium
Integrated Platform Users should easily adopt the platform and should get what they are already used to. This means that the platform should be integrated into existing services. This will significantly drive up the speed how users accept the new platform. High
Work with the Users It is especially necessary to work with the end users that are targeted to use the platform. This is an important way to find out what the users really need. Because the users eventually have to use the platform and if they don’t accept it, the platform might fail. High
Internal Service Charges Self Service IT Platforms are built with internal service charges. This has a great benefit to the enterprise since managers can see costs where they actually occur. The IT department might even be cost-neutral instead of expensing money. Top Level managers can have quick reports about the IT usage and costs of each department such as marketing or finance. On a self Service platform, departments only pay for what they need and the costs are accounted to the department itself. High
Change management A distinctive process for Change management helps the enterprise to introduce new platforms such as a self Service IT platform. This also includes not only implementation but also training. Medium

In the next table, I will describe inhibitors for self service IT:

Factor Description Impact
No Process Orientation Processes are important aspects for self Service IT implementations. Automation often requires processes that show the path to the automation. If the company has no process orientation in place, the entire corporate organization might need some distinct changes. This is a significant problem for self Service IT Platforms. High
Lack of IT awareness Providing self Service IT also means that users have more responsibility. More responsibility leads to more knowledge users need to have about technology and the platforms. Especially in IT, we see some sort of age gap  (Deal 2007), where young people learn IT-related topics faster and old people have problems. This could broaden the gap, if the platform is not easy to understand by all users. Medium
Lack of IT acceptance in the enterprise To implement self Service IT platforms, the IT department should play an important role in the enterprise. The IT manager (CIO) should probably also be integrated in the Board or extended Board to have access to enterprise decisions and strategies. If the IT department only plays a supportive role instead of a strategic role, it might be hard to cooperate across different departments and processes. Medium
A “one size fits all” approach Users in an enterprise are different and so is their knowledge. Some users might be will trained in IT, others not. Delivering a standard tool that all users in an enterprise have to use will affect the adoption of the system in a negative way. Unskilled users will have to call the IT support more often, which will create costs. Therefore, it is important to built self Service platforms specific to the needs of different user groups. Medium

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Self service IT Requirements: Summary

In this post, I want to sum up what is all necessary for self service IT. In the two tables below, you will find the different requrements.
General requirements:

Need Description
Scaling and Elasticity Platform is built to scale to a specific quota. Elasticity is built-in.
Pay-per-use Platform provides the ability to charge the departments/users on their usage.
Device independence Easy tasks and monitoring should be possible; platform should be built on internet standards
On Demand Instances and Applications should be available once the user needs them
Simple to use Users must only see what they need to work on. Provide a simple and clear interface.
Quota configuration and User Roles Each department gets a specific quota of IT resources; departments can also set quotas on projects, applications and websites. Different user roles are necessary.

Technical requirements:

Requirement Description
Resource Automation Offer possibilities to automate resources and processes; usually done in Infrastructure platforms.
Simple API Provide an API to interact with the platform. The API should support: launching, controlling and stopping applications.
Service Orientation Service orientation is a key factor for Datacenter Integration. The concept has these aspects: services, interoperability through an Enterprise Service Bus and loose coupling.

Open Source Storage Client for various platforms

Since there are many cloud providers out there and I often come across the problem to switch between different platforms (such as Google AppEngine, Amazon S3, …) I have decided to write a single client that will work with all different platforms – or at least as most as possible. I’ve created a project on Google Code here and I will start to write a first draft of interfaces. In the first step, I will include Amazon S3. I hope that more people will join this project and help me creating a great project 😉