The Self-Service Revolution: A Double-Edged Sword

The characteristics of cloud computing are many and varied, but the feature perhaps most responsible for its rapid adoption across organizations of all sizes is self-service procurement. The reason for this is fairly obvious: whereas interfacing with the IT department and waiting on approval was once the biggest bottleneck in provisioning new resources, workers today can simply bypass all that and go directly to a cloud-services provider.

While cloud computing has cleared the IT bottleneck by enabling self-service and instant access to technology infrastructure, it has created a new set of problems. Sure, organizations can save time and money by lowering the bars of procurement, but are employees procuring the right resources? And is the organization’s overall infrastructure model sustainable?

The strategic significance of self-service 

It’s important to identify what the benefits of a self-service model actually are. First and foremost, self-service empowers companies to move at the speed of business and deploy new capacity instantly in response to market factors. Instead of being reactive, organizations can be proactive through an IT framework that scales in real time.

Self-service can also greatly mitigate waste. In a conventional model, resources like storage capacity must be procured in set increments (50 gigabytes, 20 terabytes, etc.). In contrast, self-service allows users to take only what they need and pay only for what they use.

In addition, self-service portals significantly reduce the burden on IT departments. If a dev team needs a new server, for example, numerous stakeholders are typically looped into an approvals process that can span weeks, if not months. If the dev team no longer needs to speak with anyone internally to get the resources they need, the IT department can be freed up to pursue more meaningful and less menial tasks.

The easy buy vs. the right buy

One of the biggest pitfalls many organizations fall into in adopting a self-service model for IT procurement is simply failing to make sure that the right services are being deployed in an efficient manner. It’s important to bear in mind that employees embrace self-service because it’s easy to buy, not because it’s necessarily the right thing to buy. Ensuring the latter is still the responsibility of the IT department.

In a world of infinite Dropboxes and Amazon EC2s, one of IT’s most pivotal roles becomes that of curator. To enable self-service procurement in an efficient, sustainable way, CIOs must first select appropriate services and approve the suppliers who offer those services, and then implement a framework that addresses infrastructure holistically, rather than allowing for the proliferation of silos of capacity.

VMware believes employees should be able to enjoy ease of purchase and instant gratification, while feeling confident that they’re making the right choice for their organization. Solutions like vCloud Air empower IT to deliver the self-service agility their internal customers desire while still meeting corporate security, compliance and financial policy.

vCloud Air delivers the best of both worlds. VMware’s virtualization and management software enables clients to mirror and replicate their existing infrastructure in the cloud. In turn, organizations are able to maintain hard-won compliance to key standards like PCI and HIPAA, while leveraging their existing security perimeter without having to start from scratch in a third-party public cloud.