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Business Management

John Martin (Australia) Internal Service Catalogues - The Critical First Step to Driving IT Culture Change (Part 2)

In last week's post (http://bit.ly/p5efaO) I concluded that the primary users of infrastructure services are internal IT staff such as IT infrastructure teams, business solutions architects and application developers. These are the people who are under extreme pressure from the business to develop and deliver new functionality that allows the business to be more competitive. For them, time to market and speed of development are the primary drivers. Money can often be found, especially from OpEx budgets, but time is irreplaceable. They may not know exactly what they need, but they know they need it NOW, and many of them are looking to Amazon and Google to give them their IT resources right now and on-demand. Change control, stability, security, performance and data protection aren’t top of mind, and the service catalogues provided by the major cloud providers may be “good enough” in their eyes because it gives them the one thing they need the most: it gives them immediacy, agility and time, or in other words, their service catalogues turn time into money.


While this need for speed is understandable, it risks creating a new kind of uncontrolled and unsecured environment that introduces considerable unmanaged risks for the business. For this reason, IT shops looking to begin the journey towards fully automated self-service provisioning should make the first item on their internal IT service catalogue an offering  to rapidly stand up standardized test/dev environments.

One of the other key values of the service catalogue is it can drive better user behavior. What looks more compelling from below? If you can get Copy2+ for 1/15th the price and create it in 1/100th the time why wouldn’t you do it? This encourages developers to move away from disk to disk backups/dumps or BCVs and onto space and time efficient data cloning technology

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Because this kind of service brings all of the infrastructure pieces together (servers, networks, and storage) to provide things the developers want, they make the ideal first use case to create a small yet focused cross functional DevOps (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DevOps) team including both developers and infrastructure people. By picking the best, most forward thinking members from each group, and uniting them under a charismatic and respected team leader, they will form a core who can help drive the cultural transformation required to enable an agile, business-focused, service-driven IT department.


Creating a compelling actionable and automatable service catalogue, and building the team to turn the offering into reality, are the first essential steps in the journey. For true automation, a workflow is necessary to collect the inputs required to complete the process. Only then can the allocation of infrastructure resources be automated. Thus, orchestration is the combination of user inputs with the service catalogue to create a provisioning model executed by the workflow. The beauty of this is that the repeatability of this model becomes more valuable as the demands from the developer community accelerate. Furthermore, the lessons learned in fixing our own house can be carried forward into other automation and self-service projects that will ultimately increase not only the relevancy of IT, but the agility of our companies as a whole.

By John Martin, Principle Technologist (Australia/New Zealand), NetApp

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