Preparing for the Cloud III – Defining your Cloud service strategy

Now that you’ve started to think about your ICT organisation and how it interacts with your business the next step is to start defining your over-arching Cloud service strategy. The Cloud service strategy defines the likely services, business processes, principles, and the overall service life-cycle. In addition, it should define the organisational structure to support the strategy.

Now, if you are already using ITIL to a medium to high level of maturity, then the only thing you need to remember is that any Cloud service is no different to any other service that you deliver, with the exception being that it is purchased as a pure service from an external provider.

This blog looks at a high-level about what steps you need to take and elements you need to provision for to support the Cloud service(s) you are going to consume. Once again, depending on the size of the organisation, the number of services that are going to be targeted for transition to Cloud, and the complexity of your organisation will then dictate the size and complexity of your strategy.

The elements that need to be considered are then:

  • ICT organisation changes and structure
  • Define service management
  • Define principles
  • Define strategy
  • Service economics
  • ICT organisation investment
  • Idea to operation

ICT organisation changes and structure

Unless your ICT organisation currently is in a multi-source environment, and a mature one, then you are likely going to need to change your organisation in order to support the delivery of an ICT service originating from an external provider, passing through your ICT organisation, and ending up with your business customer.

The following diagram shows a cut-down view of the type of structure that you would see in a larger organisation that had made the full transition to ICT service delivery. It is there to give you an idea of the types of roles you would expect to see and the functional areas that need to be managed at a high level.

Regardless of the amount of resource required you will need the following functions to be considered any built into our ICT organisation: Legal, commercial, service delivery management, financial, design, monitoring, and continuous service improvement.

Define service management

Define what service management means for your ICT organisation. As a tip, don’t try to invent this from scratch, that is a path to destruction, or at the very least, the path to creating some kind of ICT Frankenstein process. Go and find someone else who has done this for their organisation or buy the ITIL manuals and some consulting time.

You need to understand the services you have today, how you manage them, and what will need to change with the introduction of Cloud services. You need to understand and adapt your service delivery life-cycle (strategy, vision, investigation, build, operate, improve) from what you have today to what you will need to manage Cloud services.

Processes and functions should be documented so that you can prepare for change.

If you can’t define your service delivery life-cycle today, then you have a lot of work to do.

Define principles

Understand and document the current value of your services to the organisation including your service assets and the types of providers delivering the services. Once you have built that model, or view, understand how Cloud services will impact it. Then move on to the next step. This is not an exhaustive step.

Service economics

Everything that you deliver to your organisation today as an ICT service has a cost and inherent value. Understanding your own TCO and ROI across existing ICT services is essential at this point for a couple of reasons. Firstly, any evaluation of Cloud services needs to be matched economically against existing costs. Secondly, you are going to need to justify as part of the move to Cloud services financial value.

If you are not back-charging your ICT costs to the business, now is a good time to have that debate. It is very common for ICT departments to have little or no control over their budget because the business sees it as a pot of money that can be used on “technology” and simply takes what it wants. Additionally, if the business buys ICT services themselves, then the ICT organisation often ends up in a position where they have to increase costs to support that service in its lifetime. All of this results in the CEO looking at the CIO once a year and asking why the budget has been blow out. Again.

As part of the investigation into your service economics make sure that the model you build allows for individual users, departments, and divisions to at least see the cost of ICT, if not fund it back. Setting that baseline, and making the costs visible to everybody, ensures that only relevant ICT services, whether delivered by Cloud or not, are invested in.

ICT organisation development

Both ICT service delivery and Cloud services represent a reformation in the way that ICT is managed. I am going to cover this area in some depth in a future blog, however as an introduction the principle is that investment in your existing ICT organisation through training, support, and strong leadership is a critical factor to your success. This area has fallen away in a lot of government agencies in the past few years as cost cuts bite. The impact of that lapse in ICT organisational investment is immense and latent.

An entire generation of ICT people are simply packing up and moving where the money, opportunity, and leadership is. This is leaving behind islands within organisations of ICT departments that are in deep trouble. This, in accident theory, is often a significant factor in catastrophic disasters.

Start thinking about how you will lead, train, and manage your existing ICT resources through this process. If you fail to get them on board, you will fail with Cloud.

Idea to operation

The point is now close where your ICT organisation is going to take a Cloud service and bind it into the business machine.

The next few blogs will cover this in more detail and will use a basic version of ITIL to provide a very high-level process to manage the Cloud service into operation.

Start to think about how your target Cloud service will need to go through a design process, how you will transition the service into the organisation, how you will manage that service, and then how you will improve that service. At this stage it is enough to start to think in the terms of that high-level process.


  • Understand what you are doing today to deliver ICT services to your organisation and how that must change to allow the consumption of Cloud services
  • Define what service management is for your ICT organisation today, and what it will need to become to support Cloud services
  • Drive a business decision on charge-back to the business by ICT by managing the economics of a Cloud service
  • Be aware that your ICT organisation is the key to your success or failure in adoption of Cloud services and start to think about how you will manage that

One comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: