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Integrating the Utility Model Technology

A technology stack is used to deliver utility computing. It is important for customers to understand the impact that utility computing and utility pricing have on a business. To successfully integrate a utility model, the business must first implement the financial structure and processes.

For a service provider, integrating a utility model is fairly straightforward. A service provider builds an infrastructure, connects a utility computing architecture to the hardware and software resources, and introduces a price plan to sell the resource to a number of customers. However, integrating a utility model into an organization with multiple business units that require IT support, can initially be both financially and politically sensitive from an internal point of view. This area is discussed during the remainder of this article.

One route to alleviate this possible issue is to leverage service level management to allow discussion between the suppliers of IT and the business users. Using deployment/development methodologies that explicitly define the required service levels (such as SunToneSM) ensure that the language used between business units and infrastructure providers is objective and not subjective, which permits the joint discovery of common goals. The elimination of subjective criteria by measuring and using service levels, minimizes the scope for bad political and economic conversation. This method provides a mature approach to ensure that the consuming organization wins as a whole and that the divisional goals are subordinate to corporate goals.

The ideal utility model does not require capital expenditure or capital assets in respect to big servers or big storage. In effect, the IT supply function purchases and manages compute resources based on the planned resource utilization of individual business units and not on an assumed mass of resources suggested by the overall business. Thus, the IT function and the business must work together to plan for business growth that may involve expanding existing services or supporting the provision of new business.

However, the IT supply function will face potential problems if they want to introduce a utility model for purchasing compute resource, and offset the cost of this resource by introducing a chargeback solution to the business users.

These potential problems can prove to be significant because most business cost centers or business units, through capital expenditure, are perceived to own the IT resource. They then require the IT supply function to maintain the resource at zero cost. This causes an inherent problem that the IT supply function constantly faces—how to manage the IT resources if proper funding is not provided. In addition, it is often difficult for IT departments to justify the purchase of enterprise management tools that would allow them to manage the IT resources and thus provide a service management solution to the business.

One possible solution to these problems is to shift the ownership of the IT resources to the IT function. Ownership of the resources enables the IT department to proactively assist the business to gauge future growth requirements, and allows the business to concentrate on business-related issues rather than IT specific issues.

With this solution, an organization is able to purchase resources by using the utility model and employ chargeback to the business cost center. This can be achieved by purchasing resources directly from the manufacturer or indirectly through a service provider. To purchase directly or indirectly is a decision that must be made between the customer and solution supplier.

Typically, a manufacturer has a number of key customers that buy services and goods directly. Manufacturers also have some customers that buy goods and services through indirect channel partners. For a utility solution, these partners would be utility service providers.

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