9 years ago

Service Catalogs and the evolution to enterprise cloud (Part 1 of 2)

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Cloud computing is generally well sought after for its greater agility, coupled with lesser risks and lower costs.

Born out of the complexity of cloud computing, creating and maintaining an efficient standardization is a vital step for a successful cloud implementation, especially when it comes to enterprises. As a matter of fact, there are many companies who have surpassed their own expectations when it comes to implementing the cloud just by simply standardizing their processes. But before all this, the key to achieve an effective standardization is the Service Catalogs. According to an Oracle white paper published in June 2014, service catalogs are the turnkey to enable the evolution towards a more sustainable enterprise cloud.

What is Service Catalogs?

Service catalogs provide, more or less, a database of structured content containing information about all the live services available, including those available for deployment. It offers an end-to-end view of all functioning IT infrastructures. The information it provides include prices, deliverables, ordering, contact points and request processes. It establishes a good IT (as the provider) and end-user (as the consumer) relationship, enabling a more conducive environment to work with. The overall in-charge of the service catalogs is the Process Owner. It makes sure that all information contained within the service catalogs are verified, accurate and recently updated.

There are several key points needed for effectively implementing service catalogs, as summarize by the previously mentioned white paper.

  1. The first point is to make simplicity a prerequisite. Being simple is essential for the Business Catalog. It should find a match using only a single page. Simplicity also means that it should be stated in clear and concise terms and conditions, especially as an enterprise will probably need three up to five service offerings. It is also important that development should be collaborative and therefore should be jointly predetermined with the consumers.
  2. Second point is to make sure that the processes on how to handle exceptions are clearly defined, especially on minimizing the occasions of having distinct environments, as this is often the pitfall of a process owner. One way to make this work is by adding services gradually and incrementally, often only as needed.
  3. It is also important that no matter the many changes, the original plan should be adhered to. It should be open enough so that adjustments along the way are easier to implement. This is the key and will often lead to becoming a service provider, which by itself is an effective way to ensure a sound service catalogs.

Components of Service Catalogs

Service catalogs offer different components for different kinds of audiences, which overall provides an end-to-end view of the IT estate that needs to be managed. It has three major modules, namely: business catalog, self-service catalog and technical catalog.

As defined earlier, service catalogs are, more or less, a database of structured content containing information about all the live services available. Thus, the technical catalog within is the provider’s detailed guide when it comes to deploying and managing available services.

The business catalog is a key component that enables the consumers to know, with a clear and often to-the-point description, what are the salient features and costs of available services. This includes information such as prices, deliverables, ordering, contact points and request processes. With this, one can establish a provider-consumer relationship that is sufficient between the IT and its end-users. In order to allow the consumers to efficiently and independently provision their services on demand, it is a must that in the self-service catalog, selected services are well stated and exposed, and the different criteria for handling and identifying the exceptions are well specified.

The evolution to enterprise cloud

Cloud computing is generally well sought after for its greater agility, coupled with lesser risks and lower costs. However, many of these benefits actually lie on the approach the company will adopt. Making the full evolution towards an enterprise cloud may actually take several years, and it will most probably affect many aspects of the organization’s processes, roles, policies and service delivery. This is much needed especially as organizations evolve with their products and services to keep up with the dynamic global marketplace. The enterprise cloud hosts all workloads of any given enterprise and would be able to manage the highest levels of service availability.

For enterprise cloud, Oracle is often a top choice as it offers several packages and flexibility. The company also has one of the world’s most competent cloud portfolio with an integrated enterprise IT management line. This is the industry’s only integrated, complete and business-driven cloud management solution. However, the first step of evolution towards the cloud is an effective standardization. And with service catalogs, standardization is going to be a breeze.

Effective standardization is the key

Standardized services are more beneficial as it can be deployed quickly and be tailored to function repetitively. This benefits consumers more. They can access more reliable services faster, while the provider can focus more on higher-value initiatives as they generally spend less time with provisioning.

The effectiveness of standardization greatly depends on different factors. It might be assumed that the more rigid it is, the better – however this is rarely the case. Oftentimes, it is not possible to meet a large enterprise’s requirements just with one deployment option. For the effectiveness of standardization then, it is paramount that it should be applied across the entire enterprise and that it should satisfy the majority of current and future use cases. Lastly, it should also allow exceptions – although it is advised that exceptions should be kept to a minimum.

Oracle Database

According to Oracle’s Javier Puerta, “Database as a Service offers organizations accelerated deployment, elastic capacity, greater consolidation efficiency, higher availability, and lower overall operational cost and complexity.”

Oracle Database has a wide range of features and options, which enable a full range of enterprise deployments, so comprehensive that the full spectrum of deployment is possible — from basic development environments up to the most mission critical. This translates to a more challenging business catalog with a smaller set of standardized services. To address this, Oracle leveraged its best practices where providers can adopt quickly to create the foundation that is much needed for delivering Database as a Service (DaaS).

Photo by Vinayak SP.

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