In October 2015, The Open Group launched a new standard, the IT4IT Reference Architecture. This standard is the first holistic blueprint of a modern IT operating model providing guidance on how to manage the new digital ecosystem.
So why is this standard so important?
IT organizations today are under enormous pressure. In the digital world, businesses have become dependent on IT to help them remain competitive and create new business models. At the same time the IT organization faces many additional challenges, such as managing:
- More services and components
- More releases due to continuous delivery and agile development practices
- More service providers in the ecosystem
- More security events and threats
- Increasing regulatory requirements (e.g. GDPR, HIPAA, and many more)
The fact is that most IT organizations are currently not prepared to handle all these increasing demands. Without a more effective management model for IT, organizations won’t be able to mobilize quickly for a digital age, resulting in higher cost, longer delivery times and potentially lost opportunities.
With these various forces facing IT, the organization will need to change and adopt a new operating model where IT is managed in a more integrated, streamlined, and automated manner. This is exactly what the IT4IT standard provides, for managing IT from a business perspective. IT departments automate the processes for the business – but somehow they have forgotten to take a consistent approach on how to support and automate their own IT processes across the entire IT delivery chain.
A unified model for managing IT
To overcome these challenges, industry leaders have collaborated and formed an IT4IT consortium (which is part of The Open Group) that addresses how to better run the business of IT, addressing the key challenges most organizations are facing. The IT4IT forum is focusing on answering questions such as:
- How to manage the new IT ecosystem consisting of an increasing number of (cloud) service providers
- How to transform the IT organization to become a more lean and agile service provider?
- How to improve transparency and traceability?
- How to significantly automate IT activities across the entire IT service life cycle?
- How to successfully manage the increasing risks such as security threats?
- How to manage the exploding volume of legal and regulatory requirements, such as the GDPR, efficiently and effectively?
The result of this is The Open Group IT4IT™ Reference Architecture, the first standard for running IT with a business perspective. This standard provides a unified operating model for IT, supplying the “missing link” that previous IT-function specific models (e.g. PMbok for Project Management, Scrum for Development, ITIL for Service Management) don’t address. This standard allows IT to achieve the same level of business, discipline, predictability and efficiency as other business functions.
During this fast-moving period of digital transformation, the time is right for IT4IT. With Cloud, Big Data, API economy and the Internet of Things becoming increasingly intertwined with business, the IT4IT standard helps to create a management platform to enable and manage the new digital realities. This allows IT to play a core part in the modern enterprise, providing a clear path for digital businesses to thrive for many years to come.
Breaking down the siloed approaches in the IT organization
The majority of people in IT today are focusing on a specific part of the IT service lifecycle, such as portfolio management, enterprise architecture, development, operations or security. Each of these disciplines have their own practices and tools such as related to:
- TOGAF for enterprise architecture
- PMBOK or Prince2 for project management
- BRMBoK or BisL for business management
- SAFe for scaled agile development
- SCRUM for development
- ITIL for service management
- ISO 2700x for security management
- SIAM for multi-vendor sourcing
Although some standards have been developed as guides for how different parts of IT should be run (COBIT for governance, ITIL for service management, TOGAF®, an Open Group standard, for architecture), no overarching standard has been developed that encompasses how to holistically manage all of IT, from systems administration to development to management through governance and, of course, staffing. Many organizations are struggling to create this new and agile IT function combining SCRUM, continuous delivery, DevOps as well as using service management practices such as ITIL. The IT organization has to deal with a hybrid environment where both traditional project management (e.g. Prince2 and PMBOK) are combined with agile practices such as SCRUM.
For all its advances, IT has yet to become a well-oiled business machine. The IT4IT standard helps IT organizations to create a new operating model covering all activities and capabilities you need to manage the end-to-end service life cycle of any service. This end-to-end IT service lifecycle in IT4IT is called the IT value chain, consisting of all the value added activities from planning, development through operations and continuous improvement.
High level overview of IT4IT
The Open Group IT4IT standard is focused on defining, sourcing, consuming, and managing IT services by looking holistically at the entire IT Value Chain. While existing frameworks and standards have placed their main emphasis on process, this standard is process-agnostic, focused instead on the data needed to manage a service through its lifecycle. The IT4IT standard is organized around an IT value chain consisting of 4 value streams which outlines how value can be added at every stage of the IT process. The IT4IT standard provides guidance around the data and information systems you need to automate your end-to-end IT processes, e.g. from a demand to getting it into production, including the continuous feedback loops from production into the development backlogs.
The IT4IT Standard is published as one integrated reference architecture document as well as numerous guides and white papers which can be downloaded from the Open Group website. Different training institutes worldwide provide IT4IT training as well as formal certification of the IT4IT standard.
The IT Value Chain
The IT4IT Reference Architecture provides prescriptive, holistic guidance for the implementation of IT management capabilities for today’s digital enterprise. The IT Value Chain has four value streams:
- Strategy to Portfolio
- Request to Fulfill
- Requirement to Deploy
- Detect to Correct
An IT value stream focuses on streamlining, integrating and automating end-to-end activities. Each IT Value Stream is centered on a key aspect of the service model, the essential data objects (information model), and functional components (functional model) that support it. Together, the four value streams play a vital role in helping IT control the service model as it advances through its lifecycle.
The Strategy to Portfolio (S2P) Value Stream:
- Provides the strategy to balance and broker your portfolio
- Provides a unified viewpoint across PMO, enterprise architecture, and service portfolio
- Improves data quality for decision-making
- Provides KPIs and roadmaps to improve business communication
The Requirement to Deploy (R2D) Value Stream:
- Provides a framework for creating, modifying, or sourcing a service
- Supports agile, continuous delivery and traditional development methodologies
- Enables visibility of the quality, utility, schedule, and cost of the services you deliver
- Defines automated build, test and deployment control points
The Request to Fulfill (R2F) Value Stream:
- Helps your IT organization transition to a service broker model
- Presents a single catalog with items from multiple supplier catalogs
- Efficiently manages subscriptions and total cost of service
- Manages and measures fulfillments across multiple service providers
The Detect to Correct (D2C) Value Stream:
- Brings together IT service operations to enhance results and efficiency
- Enables end-to-end visibility using a shared configuration model
- Identifies issues before they affect users
- Manage security threats and vulnerabilities
- Optimizes user experience and capture feedback
- Reduces the mean time to repair
Your call to take the next step
Your IT organization is probably also under pressure to improve agile, increase efficiency, create transparency and enable business innovation. Probably many different initiatives are inflight such as Agile development, Continuous Delivery and DevOps, as well as managing the multi-vendor ecosystem (SIAM) and delivering new technologies such as cloud.
But what is typically missing is a vision and blueprint for the target IT operating model that guides how all activities and IT management systems need to be connected to deliver value. The first step you need to take in your digital journey is to build this bigger picture of your target blueprint which is provided by the IT4IT standard. This standard will help you to define your new IT operating model and accelerate your digital journey.
For further details on the IT4IT Reference Architecture standard, visit www.opengroup.org/IT4IT.