Let me indulge myself and try and demonstrate a link between the way our development colleagues lead the way by building their capabilities for dealing with the journey to the cloud, and how Service Delivery people could learn a lot.
You remember the time where managing a software project was often seen as a poisoned chalice. Scope creep, incomplete projects, limited value outcomes, disgrunted clients. The list goes on.
Big building block software projects too often started out building Solution X but ended up delivering Solution Y, but only after many months or years of effort (and cost). The infrastructure alone was a huge investment – storage, licenses, networking. However, clients became disastified and looking for a more agile and guaranteed way of getting their software built. Alignment to business goals was a dream – too often shattered by delays and bugs.
Step forward the Agile software development group of software development methods like Scrum, based on iterative and incremental development, where requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organizing, cross-functional teams. It promotes adaptive planning, evolutionary development and delivery, a time-boxed iterative approach, and encourages rapid and flexible response to change. Most agile implementations use a routine and formal daily face-to-face communication among team members. This specifically includes the customer representative ( business Stakeholder ) and any interested stakeholders as observers. In a brief session, team members report to each other what they
did the previous day, what they intend to do today, and what their roadblocks are. This face-to-face communication exposes problems as they arise. These meetings, sometimes referred as daily stand-ups or daily scrum meetings, are held in at the same place and same time every day and should last no more than 15 minutes. Standing up usually enforces that rule. Easy to use tools like PostIT notes can track the progress of this process that is easy to understand and drives behaviour.
Now consider cloud and the world of traditional IT service delivery. How do they approach infrastructure projects? Not the same poisoned chalice surely? Perhaps 20 years ago it was not so but maybe it is now as we still face big building block infrastructure refresh projects that takes a lot longer to get signed off and even longer to come to fruition. Of course we still need them ( cloud isnt a panacea ) but there is a view that too often Infra Project X ends up delivering Infra Project Y just like the software projects of yesterday – some would call it like the old Waterfall approach. And whilst all this heavy lifting work of networking, storage, desktop refresh goes the cloud is becoming the analogy of Agile Software Development. Short sharp timeboxes of activity that encourages rapid and flexible response to change.
Remember also the big infrastructure necessary to support these application projects? Well the developers are already in the cloud using PaaS environments like Heruko, Appscale, Windows Azure, AppEngine.
Why is this important? Well for many IT operational and service desk teams the penny is still to drop. This word Agile spells an end to the traditional approach to deploying infrastructure – time consuming, costly, inflexible to changing requirements, inability to cope with busienss change. Oh and
it gets worse. Even after the infrastructure is deployed the organization’s ability to fulfill IT service are too often handicapped because of lack of training, skills transfer, time or full understanding on what the infrastructure was supposed to improve with delivering Better IT Service.
You see Im pulling this post back to the whole IT Service fulfillment debate where the DNA of a service desk ( ops team ) is challenged daily with delivering service that now spans cloud and internal infrastructures. Time is now of the essence. Businesses now need speed. Gen Y want their own
devices. Software needs just to be available without complex processes to jump through to get working. Talk of weeks to set something up ( even days ) is met with stony silence and disappointment. People want what they have been used to getting from software teams. Timeboxed, agile progress that delivers better IT service. Responsive, demonstratable and for a fair price. But can Infrastructure become the new Development team? Well there are some pressures as well all you – Self-service helpdesks. BYOD. Cloud file systems.Network visualisation. All agile approaches that are becoming mature and mainstream.
Again a word of clarification. I am not suggesting infrastructure and IT service is given up the cloud. Im not recommending an unconscious migration to the Public cloud vendors.What I am suggesting is that some best practices from the Agile development world can have a part to play for IT teams.
So what to do? I would befriend a developer and learn a little more about Agile. Believe me there will be some useful advice to help you work through your Service Desk DNA challenge and I reckon you will be better placed for the cloud journey. And remember when I say Cloud – I simply mean delivering BETTER IT – which is after all what the business wants. If it means you have to move everthing to Google then so be it. if it means you need to build your own private virtualised cloud then so be it. If it means you stay as you are but deliver more responsive IT then so be it.
Cloud is not the answer nor the question.
Agile is the answer to the question.