Monday, November 10, 2014

IT as a Service

In order to provide effective and efficient IT support and reduce complexity and cost, IT is evolving to provide commodity services that enable the separation of business functions from common shareable IT services. As identified in the Federal Line of Business Initiatives, IT management is becoming one of the Line of Businesses (LoBs). The growth of cloud computing is helping IT business to achieve its commodity service goal. The term of “X as a Service” is becoming popular accordingly as well. Therefore, the term of “IT as a Service” is unavoidably coming up for discussion.

In general, we can consider IT with three major components: information processing (e.g. with software applications), IT infrastructure, and IT management and operation. The IT as a Service (ITaaS) is to apply the shared service concept to the three components respectively. For the shared services in information processing, we have the concept of Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), and Software as a Service (SaaS) in cloud computing arena; For the shared services in IT infrastructure, we have the concept of Service Oriented Infrastructure (SOI), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) in cloud computing arena; For the shared services in IT management and operation, we have talked about a new generation IT operating model (, i.e. a service oriented IT operating model, which can work together with ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library).

The role of SOA: SOA is an architectural style and modeling approach that emphasizes well-defined, loosely coupled, reusable and shareable services. SOA concept can be well adopted in both software applications (e.g. for information processing) and IT infrastructure, as well as in IT business services. The core of SOA architecture style consists of three components: 1) Service Provider: who publish services to Service Registry; 2) Service Consumer: who find services from Service Registry and use them; 3) Service Registry: where contains information for available services.

The role of Cloud Computing: Cloud Computing enables a practical implementation mechanism for SOA concept, with software as a service, platform as a service, and infrastructure as a service running on cloud. However, ITaaS has a larger scope than cloud computing.

The role of the new generation IT operating model and ITIL: The New Generation IT Operating Model is mostly associated with the current trend of service orientation. The“Plan/Build/Run” is a typical and simple IT operating model, which is still valid if we apply lifecycle with it, and have service orientation content being imbedded into all its operating stages. The lifecycle presented in ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) can be considered as its extension from IT service management prospective. ITIL has five stages instead of three: Service Strategy (plan), Service Design (build), Service Transition, Service Operation (run), Continual Service Improvement. ITIL can be an integral part that fits into the Plan/Build/Run model, with focus on IT service portfolio management and IT service management lifecycle.

In conclusion, the concept of ITaaS is to apply service orientation to its three components respectively, to enable IT being operated as commodity service and as a line of business by itself.