The role of technology departments is fast evolving within the insurance industry, from a collection of programmers and network administrators for behind-the-scenes applications to that of service provider on many levels.
A couple months back, I sat in a session led by Forrester's Lauren Nelson, who described how internal IT should, in many ways, be competitive with public cloud services—and not just as an extension of a virtualized data center. Pricing and on-demand service delivery for internal IT should be almost indistinguishable from public cloud providers.
In a post at Data Center Knowledge, Dick Benton, principal consultant for GlassHouse Technologies, provides advice for IT managers seeking to make this transition. In essence, he points out, IT departments are in-house “cloud providers,” that compete with, and need to operate as Amazon Web Services or Salesforce.com.
Benton provides seven pointers to help IT departments with this transition to that service provider:
1. Inventory your assets. “Ensure you can run an inventory on your available compute and storage assets,” says Benton.
2. Know your costs. Benton advises developing a cost model to determine the cost per deployable unit of your compute and storage resources.
3. Create your own menu of services. “Just like an L.L. Bean catalog, this is an inventory of your services, including what sizes and styles are available for each offering.”
4. Advertise terms and conditions. Develop a nice, simple and clear service level agreement (SLA) that describes the terms and conditions for services.
5. Build in self-service. Automated self service is common with cloud providers, typically through a web page. Emulate that kind of dashboard for internal IT service provisioning.
6. Measure what is delivered. “Implement monitoring and metrics to demonstrate that you have met your commitments—both to users and your own management,” says Benton.
7. Measure user satisfaction. Survey users, and pay attention to what frequent users are saying.
Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.
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