I’m currently conducting a study that looks at understanding how enterprise businesses build, deploy, and manage their line-of-business applications. As part of the study, I interchange the notion of an “Application” with a “Service”. The two are not really the same; in my world a “service” is an application that has added customer-focused attributes such as Service Level Agreements to ensure service quality and governance policies to mitigate risks, to name a few. However, I think it’s helpful for IT to start to migrate away from the term “application” and only think in terms of “service”. With the increase in adoption of service-orientation and the commensurate increase of development paradigms that encourage the creation of composite applications, the line is blurring between what an application is versus a service.

Arguably, business agility is the brass ring of an organization’s ability to deliver for its customer. This agility will be determined in part by IT’s ability to build repositories of reusable components and construct new services from them. Before this can happen on a wide-scale basis, however, several things have to happen:

  1. The business needs to see IT as a business enabler rather than a cost center
  2. IT needs to have a clear understanding of what constitutes a business service and be able to report critical success factors and KPIs at a the service boundary
  3. Disruptive technologies such as virtualization, newer programming models such as AJAX, and cloud computing need to be adopted based on the assumption of delivering the right levels of service needed by the business. Too often, these technologies are treated like a panacea, when more often they do little more than add complexity

The ability for IT to raise its profile with the business has traditionally been based on a reactive relationship with the business. Improved management practices that truly deliver high quality service management will help to change the perception and allow the organization to treat IT as a full partner in delivering high quality products and services to its customers.

When my study concludes at the end of the summer, I’ll share some of the insights gleaned from it. In the meantime, let me know how your experience has been with the shift from application delivery to service delivery.

All the best,

Erik Svenson, Application Platform Lead, War on Cost

erik.svenson@microsoft.com