What is IT-as-a-Service anyway?

By Wayne Pauley December 5, 2011

When we started developing the Cloud Architect IT-as-a-Service course, we weren’t too sure ourselves. So we started researching it by talking to our customers, partners, and of course our own technologists. One of our most knowledgeable technologists quipped “ITaaS is a marketing term.” But then he followed up with the definition: “how do you turn IT into a service provider?”  This led us to settle on this formal definition:

Once we defined the term, it still begs the question of what we would teach people in an ITaaS course, since it is such a big topic area. It would have to include a lot of business discussion and technical material, and how do you cover all that in a week-long course? We decided that there are three key factors – Business Transformation, Organizational Transformation and Architectural Transformation.

Transformation to ITaaS

We found many good ingredients that ended up making great topics for the course. To help us teach the course and rationalize the ingredients, we developed this reference model:

On the right side of the cube, our reference model depicts the five cloud tenets (rapid elasticity, resource pooling, measured service, broad network access, and on-demand self-service). On the left side we included the physical and virtual infrastructure, service management, APIs, service orchestration, and the service catalog itself. ITaaS has to bring better time-to-value, and the best platform available to do that today is cloud, so we also included the cloud service delivery models: IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS. Lastly, security and GRC are always brought up as the key inhibiters to cloud deployment, so to round out the course we include those as well.

Why get certified as an ITaaS expert?

This course is designed to appeal to our customers, partners, and our own technical audience. Our goal is to help the technical community prepare themselves for this next wave – how IT runs as a critical part of any business, as opposed to being thought of as the traditional ‘tax’ on the business.

 At the start and end  of each class I draw a simple diagram on the whiteboard:

At the start of the class, I challenge all of the techies in the room with “I know you are all great technical people and technology is where you are most comfortable. My suggestion is that you should spend most of your time focusing on learning the most about these other topic areas.”

At the end of the course, I re-draw the diagram and I ask the class for their opinion on what they need to focus on going forward.  After teaching this course for the past few months, we keep hearing a recurring theme from all the technologists : ‘Wow, I feel comfortable with the technology; know a bit about service management; but I am definitely out of my element with the business stuff – enterprise level governance, organizational transformation, and GRC/Security.”

I then challenge them to put as much effort into developing their ‘weaker’ areas as they spend on the technology. One reason is so they can pass the certification exam!  But, the main reason is to help our technical community (customers, partners, and employees) become rock stars in more than just the technology, and extend their capabilities to be confident and competent at ITaaS and cloud archictecture.

 The end goal is to build trust in the cloud – one architect at a time.

About Wayne Pauley

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