Self service IT Requirements: simplicity and user roles


Simple to use

Since users of the self Service Platform are now end-users and not members of the IT department, the platform should provide a clear and understandable interface. The platform should also offer the possibility to integrate within existing platforms such as the internal portal to lower confusion of end users and improve the level of integration of different applications. A simple platform helps the end users to learn about the capabilities and possibilities of the self Service Platform. Furthermore, it lowers the support calls to the IT department. Self Service Platforms transfer a lot of responsibility from trained IT staff to end users in departments within the enterprise. This requires a lot of attention to design such portals, since users must only see what they need to see. If marketing regularly needs to launch new websites, this possibility should be presented to the end user in a simple and understandable way. Typically, end users don’t care about how powerful their instances are, unless it is a technical department. The marketing department might only be interested in how many customers can use this platform. If we set up a website powered by WordPress, the type could be indicated like that: “each instance allows 1 million views per hour”. This would give a much better understanding to the end users how many instances they might need and how they can estimate costs that will occur by each instance they decide to launch. The platform should allow elasticity on that as well. If instances are not needed any more, they can be shut down automatically. The end user shouldn’t care about that.

simple to use IT self services at Intel
simple to use IT self services at Intel (C) The Intel Free Press

Quota Configuration and User Roles

With self Service Platforms, end users get more responsibility as with the traditional way how people deal with IT. More responsibility might also lead to greater risk of misuse. People could launch instances and simply forget that other departments might also need instances. This could lead to a over-utilization of the datacenter. Usually, resources within a company’s datacenter are not infinite and unused instances can be used better for other load. Therefore, the platform should allow some sort of quota configuration. A quota configuration within a self Service IT Platform offers the possibility to set how many instances a specific user or department can use. The IT department could set that the marketing department can utilize a maximum of 100 concurrent instances of a specific type (e.g. 4 cores with 8gb of RAM per instance). This could start with a coarse-grained configuration (e.g. 100 instances maximum for the marketing department, 100 instances for the R&D during business hours and 500 after 8pm) and gets fine-grained in the departments. This would mean that each department gets more responsibility on how to use the available IT resources, but it also requires someone that is responsible for IT within a department. Typically, this would be a manager or assistant to a manager. The IT responsible can now set different quotas within their own quotas (let’s assume it is the marketing department with a maximum of 100 instances). Different websites, applications and projects would have different quota sets, which are combined with the department quota. However, this requires different user roles with different rights.

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Published by

Mario Meir-Huber

I work as Big Data Architect for Microsoft. With this role, I support my customers in applying Big Data technologies - mainly Hadoop/Spark - for their use-cases. I also teach this topic at various universities and frequently speak at various Conferences. In 2010 I wrote a book about Cloud Computing, which is often used at German & Austrian Universities. In my home country (Austria) I am part of several organisations on Big Data.

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