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

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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

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Self service IT Requirements: service orientation

Self Service Platforms often provide a lot of possibilities and features, but not all of them are necessary to end users in all situations. Therefore, it should be possible to disable features if they are not required. Disabling features should not affect the platform itself. This approach is also described as Service Oriented Architecture (SOA). (Jossutis, 2007) defines SOA as the following:   “Service-oriented architecture (SOA) is a paradigm for the realization and maintenance of business processes that span large distributed systems. It is based on three major technical concepts: services, interoperability through an enterprise service bus, and loose coupling.” –  (Jossutis, 2007)  (Jossutis, 2007) describes 3 main aspects of SOA: services, interoperability and loose coupling. A service can handle different things such as providing simple read or write operations or more complex functionality that might be used in workflows. Services are normally described in an abstract way, which should help bridging the gap between IT and Business. In a

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Self service IT Requirements: simple API

In the last chapters, it was often mentioned that especially one thing is important: a simple UI and administration. Since this should be integrated in existing platforms, the platform should offer an API that allows handling these steps. API stands for “Application Programing Interface” and allows system integrators to access the platform via API Calls. The API should basically be independent from the implementing language (e.g. Java, PHP or .NET), what suggests the use of web standards such as ReST or SOAP (Gudgin, et al., 2007), (Fielding, 2000). Each platform and level (such as SaaS, PaaS and IaaS) might need different API Calls. For Infrastructure as a Service self Service Platforms, the following possibilities should be included: Possibility to start/stop Applications. This is abstracted from starting instances as this rather deals with starting/stopping templates. Platforms usually allow to start/stop different instances. Most of the time, we want to start or stop a set of instances. When we focus back at

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Self service IT Requirements: how to automate

The easiest way to implement a self Service Platform is to provide an IaaS-Platform. Some IaaS self Service Platforms that are available open source are described and evaluated in Chapter 2. Infrastructure as a Service often serves as a foundation for Platform as a Service or Software as a Service Platforms. There are also some Platform as a Service Implementations available such as ConPaaS  (Pierre & Stratan , 2012). Software as a Service Applications usually needs a lot of customization to make them available as self Service Applications. To transform the IT to a self Service IT, there are some possible process optimizations available: IT departments could start with the most manual, the most time critical or the most error-prone process. If a process is manual and there are a lot of repeatable tasks, there is a good chance that this process can be transformed into an automated task. Time critical processes also have huge potential in automation since it

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Self service IT Requirements: resource and process automation

A critical characteristic of self Service IT is the fact that users can utilize applications and instances. This characteristic leads to a higher demand for automation and integration of resources and processes. As described earlier, user interfaces should be easy to use and this can be achieved by taking away complexity from the end user. In any case, complexity for self Service IT Platforms should be at a very low level as this will lead to confusion of users. Let us once again look at the process of creating a new website. The Marketing Department decides to create a campaign for a new product. This campaign needs a website promoting the product, which should be run on WordPress. The marketing department should have a link in their platform where they can create new instances. After clicking this link, they can create a new domain by buying one from the domain registrar. Most domain registrars allow automation of this task as

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Self service IT Requirements: simplicity and user roles

Simple to use Since users of the self Service Platform are now end-users and not members of the IT department, the platform should provide a clear and understandable interface. The platform should also offer the possibility to integrate within existing platforms such as the internal portal to lower confusion of end users and improve the level of integration of different applications. A simple platform helps the end users to learn about the capabilities and possibilities of the self Service Platform. Furthermore, it lowers the support calls to the IT department. Self Service Platforms transfer a lot of responsibility from trained IT staff to end users in departments within the enterprise. This requires a lot of attention to design such portals, since users must only see what they need to see. If marketing regularly needs to launch new websites, this possibility should be presented to the end user in a simple and understandable way. Typically, end users don’t care about how

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Self service IT Requirements: device independence and on demand

Device independence As with Cloud Computing, device independence and the use of Internet is an essential requirement for self Service IT Solutions. Self Service Platforms should be accessible via standard technologies such as HTML. Especially monitoring tools should be offered by the platform. Since self Service IT Platforms are basically within enterprise environments, it is necessary to have advanced security such as corporate firewalls applied. On Demand The goal of self Service IT is to improve processes within the enterprise and to improve the performance of the IT department. Processes should be more transparent and easier to use for end-users within the enterprise. Therefore, it is necessary that a self Service platform show immediate effects. If the user needs to create a new marketing website, the instances should be launched within some minutes and if scaling is needed, it should also be possible within some minutes. The user should get access to new instances once the user needs or demands

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Self service IT Requirements: Scalability and elasticity

For Cloud Solutions, Scalability and Elasticity are key requirements. In private Cloud Solutions, this should also be supported, even if scalability and elasticity might has a lower border as we see in the public Cloud. Private Cloud Computing environments basically use dedicated Hardware and resources are not shared. Public Cloud Solutions use resource sharing, which is basically not available in private Cloud Solutions. Scaling applications means that we can add a new instance of Linux or a Windows Server. Elasticity is something “more advanced” to that as described by Reuven Cohen, an opinion leader in Cloud Computing (Cohen, 2010). Reuven describes scalability as the possibility to “grow to the demands of the users on a platform” whereas he states that elasticity is something that reflects real-time conditions. A platform might have millions of users, but if this platform is only available in the United States, there might be significant fewer load on the servers during night. The load will be

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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

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