Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Charles Araujo, Flint Brenton

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo, Containers Expo Blog, Agile Computing, @DXWorldExpo, SDN Journal

@CloudExpo: Article

Self-Service IT with Cloud Computing | Part 1

Popular trends such as mobility, social media, Big Data and cloud computing are combined to create a “revolution“ in IT

Self-service is a traditional element for humans. A typical and successful example of self-service is vendor machines that dispenses drinks. Coca-Cola (among others) operates a large number of self-service machines all over the world, in public places such as universities, museums, and sport arenas. People are used to dealing with the machines as they are simple to use and easy to find. In today's world, there is a huge variety of self-service machines that are not limited to soft drinks. There are self-service machines for snacks, chewing gum and you can even buy pizzas from self-service machines.

Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) have revolutionized the way we deal with money. The only question is, why is there no self-service IT available yet? A self-service IT where you can use the benefits of self-service machines: insert money, press a button and get the service you need. It should be as fast and simple as with a soda vending machine. But is this type of service delivery actually possible? In the following series of articles we will look at self-service IT and what is necessary for it.

In the past few years, a very popular trend has emerged in IT: cloud computing. However, cloud computing is not the only popular trend; we can see many more trends on the horizon. The market research firm IDC calls this "the third platform." In the third platform, popular trends such as mobility, social media, Big Data and cloud computing are combined to create a "revolution" in IT. This trend is supposed to dramatically change the IT landscape as we know it today.

A vision of a company, where self-service IT is implemented, would look like the following: the IT department is reducing the time they invest in operational tasks such as maintaining their servers and applying patches. Core tasks of the IT department would shift toward providing more and more services for their end users. End users in different departments within an enterprise could use these services out-of-the box. This means that they don't need to call someone in the IT department to create new instances or applications. If the marketing department needs a new website for a product launch, they go to their self-service platform (which is ideally integrated in the internal portal) and launch the new website. The website is automatically configured and the corporate identity is applied. These services are basically available within minutes. The IT department now works on providing more templates and more applications that are available for the user out-of-the box. This reduces the time-to-market and improves the possibilities in the IT department.

In many companies today, this process is done the following way today: if the marketing department needs a new website for a product launch, they talk to the IT department. The IT department now prepares an instance - either virtual or dedicated. The level of automation can vary, but often it‘s not that automated. The process to create a new marketing website might take some days or even weeks. IT departments are overloaded with tasks that are actually repeatable and can be automated. Automating these processes can significantly improve the IT power of an enterprise, which could lead to an uptake in competition (Stelzer & Heinrich, 2011).

Cloud computing is a strong driver for self-service IT. If we look at popular platforms such as Amazon Web Services[1], platforms are basically easy to use. To get started with Amazon Web Services, nothing is needed except a valid credit card. To register, it takes a mere 10 minutes and you‘re ready to go. However, in most cases corporate environments don't use these services we call public cloud (Meir-Huber, 2011) nowadays. Large enterprises want to have their IT often with a familiar outsourcing provider or even insourced. This is what we call private cloud. If we talk about private cloud, we also need a high level of self-service and all aspects of the cloud basically apply to private cloud as well. Right now, we have some mature platforms for private cloud computing. Popular companies such as VMware or Microsoft provide some of them; others are open source platforms like OpenStack or Eucalyptus. These platforms basically provide Infrastructure as a Service tools. If other platforms such as Platform as a Service or even Software as a Service are needed, they are not as mature as Infrastructure as a Services. Additional work is required to achieve that.

(Miller & Cardoso , 2012) describes self-service IT as "Internet-Based Self-Services" and outlines the importance of self-services:

"Many worldwide economies have moved away from manufacturing and became service-oriented. As a consequence, research on Internet-based Self-Services (ISS) will foster the uptake of service exports and trading since they can replace many face-to-face interactions and make service transactions more accurate, convenient and faster." (Miller & Cardoso , 2012)

By this, (Miller & Cardoso , 2012) states that self-services will allow companies to replace face-to-face interactions for processes with automated processes. This will improve the company processes, making them more accurate, more convenient and faster. (Miller & Cardoso , 2012) also describes that there is a research gap so far in self-services, since this type of service has to be developed by someone - and this costs time and money. They suggest using different tools to create self-services out of models.

To read the entire series on self-service IT, have a look at the posts here: http://cloudvane.com/tag/self-service-it

More Stories By Mario Meir-Huber

Mario Meir-Huber studied Information Systems at the University of Linz. He worked in the IT sector for some years before founding CodeForce, an IT consulting and services company together with Andreas Aschauer. Since the advent of Cloud Computing, he has been passionate about this technology. He talks about Cloud Computing at various international events and conferences and writes for industry-leading magazines on cloud computing. He is Cloud Computing expert in various independent IT organizations and wrote a book on Cloud Computing covering all topics of the Cloud. You can follow Mario on Twitter (@mario_mh) or read his Blog at http://cloudvane.wordpress.com.

Comments (1)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@MicroservicesExpo Stories
For organizations that have amassed large sums of software complexity, taking a microservices approach is the first step toward DevOps and continuous improvement / development. Integrating system-level analysis with microservices makes it easier to change and add functionality to applications at any time without the increase of risk. Before you start big transformation projects or a cloud migration, make sure these changes won’t take down your entire organization.
When you focus on a journey from up-close, you look at your own technical and cultural history and how you changed it for the benefit of the customer. This was our starting point: too many integration issues, 13 SWP days and very long cycles. It was evident that in this fast-paced industry we could no longer afford this reality. We needed something that would take us beyond reducing the development lifecycles, CI and Agile methodologies. We made a fundamental difference, even changed our culture...
In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Mike Johnston, an infrastructure engineer at Supergiant.io, discussed how to use Kubernetes to set up a SaaS infrastructure for your business. Mike Johnston is an infrastructure engineer at Supergiant.io with over 12 years of experience designing, deploying, and maintaining server and workstation infrastructure at all scales. He has experience with brick and mortar data centers as well as cloud providers like Digital Ocean, Amazon Web Services, and Rackspace. H...
You often hear the two titles of "DevOps" and "Immutable Infrastructure" used independently. In his session at DevOps Summit, John Willis, Technical Evangelist for Docker, covered the union between the two topics and why this is important. He provided an overview of Immutable Infrastructure then showed how an Immutable Continuous Delivery pipeline can be applied as a best practice for "DevOps." He ended the session with some interesting case study examples.
Without lifecycle traceability and visibility across the tool chain, stakeholders from Planning-to-Ops have limited insight and answers to who, what, when, why and how across the DevOps lifecycle. This impacts the ability to deliver high quality software at the needed velocity to drive positive business outcomes. In his general session at @DevOpsSummit at 19th Cloud Expo, Eric Robertson, General Manager at CollabNet, will discuss how customers are able to achieve a level of transparency that e...
The Jevons Paradox suggests that when technological advances increase efficiency of a resource, it results in an overall increase in consumption. Writing on the increased use of coal as a result of technological improvements, 19th-century economist William Stanley Jevons found that these improvements led to the development of new ways to utilize coal. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Thiele, Chief Strategy Officer for Apcera, compared the Jevons Paradox to modern-day enterprise IT, examin...
The taxi industry never saw Uber coming. Startups are a threat to incumbents like never before, and a major enabler for startups is that they are instantly “cloud ready.” If innovation moves at the pace of IT, then your company is in trouble. Why? Because your data center will not keep up with frenetic pace AWS, Microsoft and Google are rolling out new capabilities. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Don Browning, VP of Cloud Architecture at Turner, posited that disruption is inevitable for comp...
The next XaaS is CICDaaS. Why? Because CICD saves developers a huge amount of time. CD is an especially great option for projects that require multiple and frequent contributions to be integrated. But… securing CICD best practices is an emerging, essential, yet little understood practice for DevOps teams and their Cloud Service Providers. The only way to get CICD to work in a highly secure environment takes collaboration, patience and persistence. Building CICD in the cloud requires rigorous ar...
"This all sounds great. But it's just not realistic." This is what a group of five senior IT executives told me during a workshop I held not long ago. We were working through an exercise on the organizational characteristics necessary to successfully execute a digital transformation, and the group was doing their ‘readout.' The executives loved everything we discussed and agreed that if such an environment existed, it would make transformation much easier. They just didn't believe it was reali...
Your homes and cars can be automated and self-serviced. Why can't your storage? From simply asking questions to analyze and troubleshoot your infrastructure, to provisioning storage with snapshots, recovery and replication, your wildest sci-fi dream has come true. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Dan Florea, Director of Product Management at Tintri, provided a ChatOps demo where you can talk to your storage and manage it from anywhere, through Slack and similar services with...
Containers are rapidly finding their way into enterprise data centers, but change is difficult. How do enterprises transform their architecture with technologies like containers without losing the reliable components of their current solutions? In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Tony Campbell, Director, Educational Services at CoreOS, will explore the challenges organizations are facing today as they move to containers and go over how Kubernetes applications can deploy with lega...
The “Digital Era” is forcing us to engage with new methods to build, operate and maintain applications. This transformation also implies an evolution to more and more intelligent applications to better engage with the customers, while creating significant market differentiators. In both cases, the cloud has become a key enabler to embrace this digital revolution. So, moving to the cloud is no longer the question; the new questions are HOW and WHEN. To make this equation even more complex, most ...
Learn how to solve the problem of keeping files in sync between multiple Docker containers. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Aaron Brongersma, Senior Infrastructure Engineer at Modulus, discussed using rsync, GlusterFS, EBS and Bit Torrent Sync. He broke down the tools that are needed to help create a seamless user experience. In the end, can we have an environment where we can easily move Docker containers, servers, and volumes without impacting our applications? He shared his results so yo...
Don’t go chasing waterfall … development, that is. According to a recent post by Madison Moore on Medium featuring insights from several software delivery industry leaders, waterfall is – while still popular – not the best way to win in the marketplace. With methodologies like Agile, DevOps and Continuous Delivery becoming ever more prominent over the past 15 years or so, waterfall is old news. Or, is it? Moore cites a recent study by Gartner: “According to Gartner’s IT Key Metrics Data report, ...
Enterprise architects are increasingly adopting multi-cloud strategies as they seek to utilize existing data center assets, leverage the advantages of cloud computing and avoid cloud vendor lock-in. This requires a globally aware traffic management strategy that can monitor infrastructure health across data centers and end-user experience globally, while responding to control changes and system specification at the speed of today’s DevOps teams. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Josh Gray, Chie...
Kubernetes is a new and revolutionary open-sourced system for managing containers across multiple hosts in a cluster. Ansible is a simple IT automation tool for just about any requirement for reproducible environments. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 18th Cloud Expo, Patrick Galbraith, a principal engineer at HPE, discussed how to build a fully functional Kubernetes cluster on a number of virtual machines or bare-metal hosts. Also included will be a brief demonstration of running a Galera MyS...
Many organizations are now looking to DevOps maturity models to gauge their DevOps adoption and compare their maturity to their peers. However, as enterprise organizations rush to adopt DevOps, moving past experimentation to embrace it at scale, they are in danger of falling into the trap that they have fallen into time and time again. Unfortunately, we've seen this movie before, and we know how it ends: badly.
Agile has finally jumped the technology shark, expanding outside the software world. Enterprises are now increasingly adopting Agile practices across their organizations in order to successfully navigate the disruptive waters that threaten to drown them. In our quest for establishing change as a core competency in our organizations, this business-centric notion of Agile is an essential component of Agile Digital Transformation. In the years since the publication of the Agile Manifesto, the conn...
"I focus on what we are calling CAST Highlight, which is our SaaS application portfolio analysis tool. It is an extremely lightweight tool that can integrate with pretty much any build process right now," explained Andrew Siegmund, Application Migration Specialist for CAST, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
In IT, we sometimes coin terms for things before we know exactly what they are and how they’ll be used. The resulting terms may capture a common set of aspirations and goals – as “cloud” did broadly for on-demand, self-service, and flexible computing. But such a term can also lump together diverse and even competing practices, technologies, and priorities to the point where important distinctions are glossed over and lost.