How would you go about remodeling a home you just purchased? Would you do this all at once, or would it be done incrementally? Most people start with one area, such as the kitchen, and then do other upgrades in stages.

Similarly, if you are seeking to “remodel” your IT operation through a move to cloud computing, you don’t have to take an all-at-once approach. The key is in knowing where to begin.

The fundamental technologies that enable cloud computing — virtualization, automation, and user portals — have been around for many years. Moving to cloud computing involves leveraging these capabilities to create a highly dynamic and flexible infrastructure.

Transitioning to the cloud

An incremental approach enables you to implement cloud computing while avoiding disruption and minimizing risk. Begin implementing cloud computing in a test environment. This gives you and your staff time to become familiar with the workings of a cloud without affecting critical systems in the data center.

Some enterprises get started by creating a development environment that lets the staff test-drive the cloud functionality. Other organizations provide a self-service portal with automated provisioning for accessing their traditional virtualized environments.

As not all services are appropriate cloud candidates, you will likely continue managing both traditional and cloud environments — and potentially public cloud resources as well.

Revamping processes and organizational structures

Over the years, many IT organizations have developed and honed best-practice processes across IT disciplines. You can leverage these processes to accommodate cloud computing. And through automation, you can lock down many of these processes to enforce their use.

Keep in mind, however, that you may need to modify your processes so that they are more attuned to the cloud environment. By modifying your change process to include pre-approvals for certain types of changes — for example, the automatic provisioning of standard server configurations — you can eliminate delays in responding to many user requests.

Advancements in configuration management support the fast-moving cloud environment in which many resources are automatically and rapidly provisioned, changed, and retired. Sophisticated change management capabilities maintain strong control and tracking of changes without impeding the rapid change that must occur in the cloud.

New automation orchestration solutions accommodate the greater complexity and dynamic nature of the cloud environment. Robust integration across service management solutions is helping to ensure that provisioning occurs with appropriate monitoring and tracking to maintain service quality and compliance.

Building on a services approach

Cloud computing can support a services approach by empowering businesspeople to request services on their own. Self-service increases agility in meeting the needs of the business, and it reduces the cost of service delivery.

For self-service to work, however, it must present resources in terms that users can understand. Businesspeople want to request services in terms they understand and have those services delivered in a timely fashion. Create a set of standard offerings presented in business terms.

Business service management (BSM) can help IT organizations as they transition to a more service-oriented approach to systems management. BSM is a comprehensive approach and unified platform for running IT. With BSM, IT can manage the infrastructure from a service standpoint by relating services to the components of the underlying IT architecture that support the services greatly increasing efficiency.

BSM solutions can help you operate more effectively in the cloud environment. Service request automation capabilities, for example, make it easy for business users to request the services and service levels they need from a catalog. Identity and access management components ensure that people can request only those services that they are authorized to use, and access levels are controlled based on user roles in the organization.

BSM solutions can help you take your operation to the next level by managing services in the cloud for maximum efficiency and effectiveness, enabling you to strengthen the role that IT plays in the success of the business.

About the Author

Lilac Schoenbeck is senior manager of product marketing for cloud computing at BMC Software. She has more than 12 years of experience with product marketing, strategy, business development, and software engineering in the grid, virtualization, and cloud domains. She has worked for IBM, Fortisphere, Innosight, and the Globus Alliance and holds an MBA from MIT Sloan School of Management and a Computer Science degree from Pacific Lutheran University.