Preparing for Cloud V: Cloud services design

The goal of ICT service management is to make sure that the ICT services align to business requirements in order to support them. It is critical that the ICT services provide the foundation for business process, and it is also more and more important that the ICT organisation becomes a change agent in order to drive business transformation. The last few blogs have been looking at what you need to do before you start transitioning, or buying new, Cloud services.

The steps in that puzzle have been; The ICT Stocktake, ICT as a Service Delivery Organisation, Defining your Cloud Service Strategy, and Cloud Revolution, not Revolt.

The next step then is to complete a high level design of your target Cloud service. As always, the amount of effort you put into this is going to depend entirely on the size and complexity of what your are changing.

I’m going to borrow from broadly from ITIL for this blog as the methodology defines a nice balance between business ICT service and ICT architecture, it is rare to get such a balance.

Often seen as the ICT Architect’s domain, the Service Design aspect is critical to the large organisation and provider as it defines the only means of carefully fitting a new service into an existing complex environment.

For a smaller agency or organisation that is “just buying a service” then this section is less important. However, the principles, goals, and practices are still critical to enterprise ICT thinking and form a core support to the overall Service Strategy.

The role of the Service Design stage within the overall business change process is defined as:

“The design of appropriate and innovative IT services, including their architectures, processes, policies and documentation, to meet current future agree business requirements.” – ITIL

As always there are some basic elements that need to be considered:

  • Principles
  • Processes
  • Other elements


For each Cloud service there are principles that need to be defined. The first and foremost is business requirements. Even if you are transitioning an existing service to Cloud, this is an important step. Without understanding these requirements, designing, procuring, and understanding what it is that you need from a Cloud service, is a hit and miss affair. Business requirements are often called functional requirements in New Zealand and I would go as far as mapping the requirements to the actual business processes that they support, particularly for complex services.

The second principle that needs to be established are the then service requirements, which are derived from your business requirements. What requirements must the Cloud service have in order to support overall requirements?

Under principles other considerations need to be thought through and documented such as; balanced design and design aspects including activities, constraints, the link to business service management, service oriented architecture, and service design modelling.


Fitting a Cloud service to your current processes is essential. As a minimum this needs to include:

  • Catalogue management.
  • Service level management.
  • Capacity management.
  • Availability management.
  • IT service continuity management.
  • Information security management.
  • Supplier management.

If you don’t have these basic processes defined, then you need to consider your readiness to take on a Cloud service or services.

Other elements

Ensure that you also consider other elements that may not be immediately obvious. For example, how does the Cloud service impact application management and any associated processes? Are there any obvious ICT organisation changes that need to be made? What tools will be required to support the service? How will you practically manage the implementation of service design including business impact analysis, risks, service level requirements, and measurement?

Challenges, dangers, and the role of Architecture

Architecture is often touted as a “blocker” to the progress that ICT needs to make within an organisation. The reality is that without a strong architectural governance then any service procured or built will not likely be robust and healthy, nor are you likely to realise the benefits from it that you expected..

The challenge then for the architect is to ensure that Service Design is complimentary to the process of overall service delivery. This is extremely difficult in a profession that is largely compliance focused. That compliance focus needs to change to one of service delivery itself. Indeed, the best place for Service Design to start is within the architectural organisation itself.

Once the role of architecture itself is defined as a service catalogue then the rest of the ICT organisation can not only utilise it but also understand where the Service Design practice fits within the changing delivery of ICT. The concept of a trusted advisor.


  • Service design is critical to ensuring that the Cloud service(s) actually work and deliver the expected benefits.
  • It is a brave CIO that does not listen to the advice of their Architects.
  • Understand how Cloud changes your basic ICT processes.
  • Document requirements.

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