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The Emerging Cloud Service Delivery Manager Role

By | May 9, 2017 in Cloud

The new cloud service manager role

Clouds are services, not products or technologies, so who better to manage them than an IT service manager with a “special set of skills.” Let’s call them Cloud Service Delivery Managers.

The type of organization that has heavily invested in IT service management (ITSM) is likely to be the “complicated” kind of IT organization that uses many cloud service providers to provision IT services. And while even the smallest, “simplest” organizations might be using multiple clouds for business and are struggling to manage all the different cloud bills, user accounts, and integrations – imagine that pain times-a-thousand. It’s the reality for these complex organizations as they juggle cloud, DevOps, ITSM, and possibly even service integration and management (SIAM).

Cloud Management Complexity

According to the RightScale State of Cloud 2017 Report, which is based on a survey of over 1,000 practitioners, the cloud “situation” is getting increasingly complicated as cloud pushes into all aspects of business. From end users using cloud storage for work files, and cloud mail for email, to now replacing whole data centers with large cloud service providers – cloud is everywhere! Plus, DevOps loves cloud.

Thus, the challenge that all organizations have, regardless of size, is cloud service management. This ranges from consolidating the bills from the various services into finance all the way to some service administration and being the central point for standards and compliance. And the secret is to not “get in the way” while simultaneously de-risking the consumption of cloud services for the business.

Without someone like a Cloud Service Delivery Manager taking ownership for the above it will be the responsibility of each department, product team, or even individual end users. This might be perceived as great by freedom-seeking individuals who finally feel unshackled from IT – until, that is, the bill isn’t paid, confidential data is leaked by an ex-employee, or services can’t communicate – causing ever-increasing cost and pain.

This Cloud Service Delivery Manager role is an emerging reality, based on real organizational needs related to cloud computing. In this blog, I want to explore the needs driving the role and what the role actually entails.
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The Driving Needs for Cloud Service Delivery Managers

All cloud services share similar characteristics and these can be seen differently through the eyes of a cloud optimist or cloud pessimist:

Essential Cloud Characteristics The Optimist The Pessimist
On-demand self-service Do it all by myself! No IT personnel needed! No IT involvement! No controls on end users!
Broad network access Apps are available from anywhere Apps are available from outside controlled environments
Resource pooling Lower cost by sharing public resources Noisy neighbors and risk of exposing business data
Rapid elasticity I can balance business demand with cloud supply, scale to whatever I need Scale up but forget to scale down, wasting money, with unpredictable bills
Measured service I can see exactly what I’ve used Multiple reports from different cloud service providers need reconciliation

At the heart of the Cloud Service Delivery Manager role is balancing these two perceptions, which brings us onto: What do Cloud Service Delivery Managers do?

The Roles and Responsibilities of a Cloud Service Delivery Manager

A Cloud Service Delivery Manager’s goal is to be at the center of tension between opposing drivers in the business. On the one hand, you have the business governance requirement to ensure risks are managed and money is spent wisely. On the other hand, you have business departments and individuals who want the empowerment and agility to create new business opportunities and revenues.

These two needs are often at odds because control can hamper agility, but not always – as the great IT Process Institute book, Visible Ops, once said:

“Change (control) is like the brakes on your car – it lets you go faster!”

This quote is also used in the context of DevOps and increasing velocity.

Thus, the role of the Cloud Service Delivery Manager is to mirror this statement – to operate in this center of tension and to balance the opposing needs of agility and governance. But how?

The Cloud Service Delivery Manager needs to have responsibilities across five key areas:

Cloud Service Delivery Manager Responsibilities
Billing ➢ Consolidate all cloud bills for payment by finance

➢ Implement mechanisms to keep downward-pressure on spend such as turning of development resources (where unused out of business hours) and limiting subscriptions to those who need it for their role

Users ➢ Manage end-user adds, edits, and deletes to subscription services through a central directory

➢ Manage the on-boarding and exiting of staff in terms of cloud service subscriptions

➢ Run compliance reports on cloud services users and usage

Services ➢ Service catalog ownership and control
Compliance ➢ Educate cloud consumers on their rights and responsibilities

➢ Advise cloud service administrators on compliance requirements

➢ Run compliance reports, enforce standards and disciplinary policies

Integration ➢ Maintain the map of business processes to services

➢ Assist with integration of cloud services (but the Cloud Service Delivery Managers don’t get in the way)

The secret to the success of this role is definitely “don’t get in the way” while mitigating risks and continually developing, monitoring, and enforcing standards and compliance.

As soon as the Cloud Service Delivery Manager makes the mistake of being a choke point where “all things cloud go through me” then it will introduce slowness and complexity into cloud service consumption, people will go around the Cloud Service Manager and the organization’s cloud consumption will splinter.

There are levels of maturity in cloud service management that can be understood by using a simple checklist, something the Cloud Service Delivery Manager will do with each cloud service:

  • What do I know about the cloud service? Is it invisible vs. on the radar vs. under control?
  • Are we collecting metering and bills? Is finance paying for it, or is it on an employee credit card?
  • Are we managing the end users? If the end users are not linked to the corporate directory, then this is a red flag risk.
  • Is this service understood and available via on-boarding process via our service catalog?
  • Do the cloud service consumers and administrators know their rights and responsibilities? Are they compliant? How can we help them enforce the rules? Do we have a reporting, escalation, and disciplinary process? Do we encourage whistle-blowers and white hat hackers?
  • Is this service integrated into other services? What are the dependencies and what’s the business risk?
  • Across all of the services, what’s the score of these services and where is it in our priorities for resource to improve?

The Cloud Service Delivery Manager could be a key role in your business as cloud services become all pervasive across the organization. Doing it badly will have a negative impact on business operations and success, such as if it becomes a choke point, but not doing it at all and letting individuals expose the business to known cloud risks with no guidelines could be more than negative – it could be catastrophic.

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Sarah Lahav

About Sarah Lahav

As the company’s 1st employee, Sarah has remained the vital link between SysAid Technologies and its customers since 2003. Current CEO, former VP Customer Relations. Always passionate about customer service! Mother of three adorable children – she juggles work, family, and zumba classes with ease.

3 thoughts on “The Emerging Cloud Service Delivery Manager Role”

    1. Avatar Kimberly Blake-Roth

      What are the essential (technical) skills and training of someone in this role? What would be the perfect qualifications for someone seeking to perform this role?


      1. Sarah Lahav Sarah Lahav Post author

        Leading hyper scale cloud providers like AWS offer free cloud technical, business, and economics training AND certification to get started with.

        After this base grounding in cloud, you could advance to the Well-Architected Framework and the more ITIL-esque Cloud Adoption Framework – all free online. Google them to find out more.


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