How to Build Up Support Desks in Cloud Computing - dummies

How to Build Up Support Desks in Cloud Computing

By Judith Hurwitz, Robin Bloor, Marcia Kaufman, Fern Halper

For many businesses, the service desk is the first port of call when there is an incident or a problem. Imagine the lost productivity and revenue (and the all-around chaos) that would occur in the cloud if your provider couldn’t manage service delivery and deal with problems effectively. The service desk does this.

Cloud computing service desk goals

A service desk provides a single point of contact for IT users and customers to report any issues they may have with the service. It generally has three goals:

  • Problem resolution: First and foremost, the desk is there to help resolve issues as quickly as possible. This task involves recognizing and resolving relatively simple issues and prioritizing problems that may have a greater impact.

  • Service restoration: The desk works to restore service as quickly as possible to maintain service level agreements (which require a lot of negotiation). Therefore, a key service desk role is ensuring that the agreements are enforced to the best of the company’s ability, which means tracking and monitoring service levels.

  • System support: The service desk provides system support, which includes dealing with any server incidents (and may also mean dealing with issues such as change and configuration management).

Varying support levels in cloud computing service providers

  • Basic support might mean a two-day response time via a Web-based portal where you ask your question.

  • It might also simply mean access to a web-based community.

  • A premium package may get you two-hour response time, but no guarantees about service levels.

  • Some providers state that they will provide a one-hour response time for “urgent” issues, but don’t specify what urgent actually means.

Examining cloud computing support services

Although cloud management is still evolving, some cloud providers have a service desk in place to support customers. Many service desks deal with issues beyond incident and problem reporting, such as change management, customization, and so on. A service desk can provide many services.

Communication via multiple channels

Does your provider support a wide variety of communication styles, including phone, email, online forms, and even mobile communications?

Incident and problem management

The service desk should support the assessment, prioritization, resolution, notification, and reporting of small incidents or major problems. An incident becomes a problem when it happens more than a few times.

Ask your cloud provider how they deal with the following issues:

  • Configuration management: Someone made an error while changing a configuration.

  • Network: The network gets overloaded.

  • Database: A database table needs to be optimized.

  • System management: A server’s processors failed and the failover didn’t work.

  • IT security: A denial-of-service attack is in progress.

  • Application: A program has a bug.

When you decide to go with a cloud provider, make sure that the proper level of support is there for you.

Change management

Suppose you want to customize your application or need some other type of support. The service desk should support the management of change requests, including information about how system parts interact. Often, the provider will include some support for customization in the contract. This might consist of one-on-one interactions with someone on the cloud staff. You need to find out.

Knowledge base

If service desk personnel don’t have the right information to do their jobs, their jobs won’t get done well. Knowledge management ensures that people get the information they need to do their jobs correctly. Service management systems often link to a database for past incidents and how they were resolved; this database speeds incident resolution.

Configuration management

The desk should support mapping resources to the business processes that they support. Configuration management often entails a Configuration Management Database (CMDB) or some other kind of data store for holding all the cloud data center assets.