CIO to COO: Lessons from the cloud

CIO to COO: Lessons from the cloud

Peter Yates at Spark Ventures discusses how his experiences in consumption based IT services can be transposed to his new domain – operations.

Most people are aware of the consumption (pay per use) based services such as storage (Dropbox), music (Spotify), email (Google), television (Lightbox) and how some of these products are slowly following those users into their organisations.

Organisations are also looking into the use of consumption based services because they provide more flexibility, capital cost reduction and the ability to directly charge costs to business units.

But I would like to take the consumption based model a step further and look at how this could be adopted by IT teams in businesses.

I have adopted a consumption based strategy here at Spark Ventures and will explain what technology solutions have been used; and in each case, what has been gained by following this approach.

Our group is made up of a number of businesses including Bigpipe (an ISP) and Lightbox (a video on demand service), all supported by a shared services group including the operations team. We have taken the bold step of using consumption based services for most of the core tools required to run an operational team as well the organisation as a whole.

For most operational teams there is a need to use an IT Service Management tool. RemedyForce was chosen for its ability to integrate into our already implemented platform, its ease of implementation and because it meets our requirements of functionality and mobility. RemedyForce also helps facilitate our need for innovation, speed of change and brings enough process (through the use of work flows) without inhibiting these needs.

Monitoring is also another consideration of an operational team. LogicMonitor was chosen as a suitable tool because it is cloud based and allows for a per host charge, which can be passed on to each venture. The functionality offered by LogicMonitor such as escalation based on criticality of the alerts to both email and via SMS, and the ability to monitor Web services were both critical in its selection.

Chief collaboration officer

The last main 'pay as you go' service used by operations is Atlassian’s Wiki product called Confluence. It allows our users to create, edit and share documents with each other. We use the Wiki style approach to knowledge management because it allows our teams to be self-managing.

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The use of consumption based services within an organisation can give small (including start-ups) and large companies alike the flexibility around function, capacity and cost.

We’re allowing users to comment on posts, edit an update, create their own article/posts and even subscribe to particular feeds/pages. Like any Wiki, it allows you to see who has made changes or commented on an article, therefore allowing instant collaboration. It also fits in well with other Atlassian based tools that are used such as Jira.

For collaboration services, we use the Google suite of products such as GMail, Google Docs and Google Hangouts. To further enhance mobility, these services are all accessible via any number of mobile devices. Google hangout(s) has also become an essential tool for instant messaging and instant communications during major incidents.

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Another heavily used consumption based product is, which is used extensively for CRM and case management. It resides on the same instance as RemedyForce allowing the re-use of users’ access, reporting and some processes across both and RemedyForce.

Our use of consumption based cloud services has enhanced our BCP and DR planning and provision because all of our users can mostly work anywhere with an Internet connection, including our Customer Care team.

The consumption based approach also frees up the operations team from having to manage these core tools.There's no upgrades, storage increase, server licenses or server management, because we just give users access when an approved service request is received so such management is conducted by the user itself.

The use of consumption based services within an organisation can give small (including start-ups) and large companies alike the flexibility around function, capacity and cost.

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It also ensures IT can support the current needs (of both IT and the organisation) and future growth without investing capital in on premise infrastructure and software that may have spare capacity that's not used for a number of months or even years.

Consumption based services should form a vital part of any future organisational strategy and should be compared with traditional services as part of any product selection.

Of course, with any cloud based services, suitable research and product selection should be undertaken to ensure it meets the organisation's requirements, both from an availability and security perspective.

Peter Yates (@peteyatesnz) is head of operations and platform delivery at Spark Ventures (formerly Telecom Digital Ventures). His previous roles included technology services group manager/CIO at Foster Moore and IS infrastructure manager at Auckland Council.

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