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Cloud Computing : Service Catalogue – Part 21

Service Catalog

A service catalog helps the customers of cloud (or any) service providers understand the services available from the provider, their options, the function of value of each option, and the cost and quality of each service. Service catalogs help customers perform a cost benefit analysis by being transparent.

Implementing a service catalog is essential for cloud-computing success. Without a service catalog, your public, private or hybrid cloud is just a fog bank, and your cloud offerings will remain “cloudy” to prospective customers.

A good service catalog, should consider providing the following information:

  1. Service identification : many service catalogs provide at least two ways to locate a service. The most common is to create a service hierarchy. For example, infrastructure services, platform services, software services and so on. Within each of these services, you would have subcategories. For example, the Infrastructureservice may have “UNIX servers”, “Windows servers” and “Linux servers”. Another way to provide service identification is using a key word search.

  2. Service bundling: what are the standard bundles you provide? This bundling lists combinations of services that make sense, making it easy for the consumer to choose. For example, a customer may request to provision a MS SQL Server instance on a virtual Linux server. Without connecting pieces, this would not be a valid bundle, but one that an unsuspecting consumer might accidentally choose.

  3. Service level: What are the levels of service you provide and how much does each level cost? For example, a consumer may require 99.99% uptime, but if the price differential between 99.9% and 99.99% is too high, the consumer will need to know this in advance, to make a decision that works with their business goals.

  4. Metadata: this is information about the request in terms of requestors and processes, such as who made the request, does the person have approval to make the request, on whose behalf was it made, how is it going to be paid for, etc. Your services may include methods to enforce an organizations work flow and business rules – mention it.

  5. Integration of provisioning services: As a provider, you may provide for automatic provisioning to create a virtual server using a pre-defined template, once a request has approval.

  6. Integration of metered services: include service usage, service availability, billing and more 

  7. Security services: what security standards do your services conform to? What measures do you take to enforce defined security processes?

Implementing a service catalog has multiple benefits. Not only does it provide information about services to the consumer, it provides the cloud provider to be a business partner rather than just a technology provider. And a partner who can understand both business and technology can go a long way to providing just the right solution for a customer and therefore improve customer satisfaction.

Incident Management

Incident Management is used to restore normal operations as quickly as possible. The Incident Management process is followed by the service desk function (operator) to resolving incidents as and when they occur. The priority of an incident primarily depends on the impact and urgency of the situation. Usually, the lower the priority value, the more urgent an issue. So, for example, out of a rating of 1-5, 1 is likely to be the highest priority.

Access Management

Access Management gives the right to authorized users to use the service, block the unauthorized users, and ensure that the policies and actions specified in security management and availability management are appropriately executed.

The following access methods are applied to cloud services:

  1.  Identity management : The user’s identity is unique and is handled via identity management systems, such as Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP), LDAP over Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), and TACACS.

  2.  Access : It is the level and extent of service functionality or data that a user is permitted to use.

  3.  Rights : They are also known as privileges. They refer to the actual settings, which are used to provide access to a service or group of services.

Objectives of the continuous service improvement phase

Following are the objectives of the continuous service improvement phase:

  1.  Review, analyze, and make suggestions on improvement opportunities in each life cycle phase.

  2.  Review and analyze service-level achievements.

  3.  Review and improve effectiveness of IT delivery.

  4.  Recognize and use best practices to improve IT service quality and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of enabling ITSM processes.

  5.  Make sure that applicable quality management methods support continual improvement activities.

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