Cataloging Services in Cloud Computing

If you want to create, use, change, or manage a business service in cloud computing, you need access to documentation — a catalog — about that service. These services may include business services that represent a company’s important business processes, and they may include a range of IT services, such as software services, networking services, communications services, and data services. Because a cloud needs to be able to use a service that might originate from many different places, a catalog is essential in both locating a service and understanding its characteristics.

The catalog should help users locate the right service, understand how services are being used, and identify who is using the services. However, assembling all the key components and creating a central reference point for your services aren’t enough. You need to plan for managing those services; otherwise, your IT implementations won’t meet your expectations.

Many organizations are creating catalogs of business and IT services. They’re doing so because service catalogs provide a foundation for good service management by helping companies standardize the approach to delivering and managing services across all units. Some organizations have merged catalogs of different types of services to improve their ability to manage and govern all the services delivered to the business.

If the cloud is going to act as a truly distributed environment, you will need a catalog. In a distributed computing environment, it is critical to provide services that tell you where the services are located that you might want to use. In other words, you have to create the services in a distributed environment that would be a part of an integrated environment.

A service catalog should be dynamic and capable of managing constantly changing services in order to handle the changing needs of the business. A service catalog is needed because programmers will no longer write as much original code themselves. Rather, they will be expected to use these business services as part of creating new applications for the business.

So, the catalog needs to give the developer all the information she needs to make good use of these services. She needs to know how and when to use a service. Here’s a sample of the information included in a service catalog:

  • Whom to contact about a service

  • How to find and access a service

  • Who has authority to change the service

  • Which critical applications are related to the service

  • Outages or other incidents related to the service

  • Information about the relationships among services

  • Documentation of all agreements between IT and the customer or user of the service

A banking institution’s service catalog, for example, may have information about its online banking service, the key performance indicators — measurement indicating the effectiveness of a process — for that service, and the service-level agreements between IT and the online banking business. If an outage occurs, the bank’s IT service management team can read the service catalog to locate the root cause of problems with the service.

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