8 steps to IT control in a self-service cloud world

The natural cycle in IT is to move from decentralized to centralized services. When networking first appeared, it was implemented at a department level for printer sharing. It was decentralized—resulting in a hodgepodge of networks and protocols. Eventually IT organizations determined that it was much more efficient to centralize this effort and we saw the adoption of large-scale, TCP/IP networks. Today nearly every IT organization has a centralized networking team that manages and deploys IP-based infrastructure.

When SaaS applications such as Salesforce first appeared, they were adopted by sales organizations. As adoption levels grew, enterprises needed centralized data integration, identity and access management, and other functions that are inefficient to deliver at departmental scale. Today Salesforce is typically managed by a centralized IT organization.

IaaS has gone through a similar transition. Initially, development teams were thrilled to do away with the two-week turnaround times of a ticket-based central IT function. However, as the number of workloads on the public cloud has grown, the decentralized model of every dev team doing their own IT no longer makes sense. Again, it’s much more efficient to centralize.

I recently met with Ian Barraclough, senior director of enterprise architecture at IHS Markit Inc. IHS Markit is a global company that provides information expertise spanning numerous industries, including leading positions in finance, energy, technology, and transportation, and the company is experiencing this decentralized to centralized transition. Over the past few years, the IHS Markit application development teams have realized significant gains in productivity and reduced time to market by utilizing self-service IaaS on the public cloud. But as the number of applications being deployed on the public cloud has grown, the development teams have been burdened with functions that could be better managed by a central IT team. The question IHS Markit faced was how to implement centralized processes and controls without going back to the cumbersome model of tickets and segregated duties.

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