Cloud Computing has added a new degree of complexity to managing IT by increasing the number of IT providers. A robust IT Service Catalog sets the stage for effective IT management in the new world of Cloud Computing. The key is to manage both the service offering and the service provider.
Typically, a service catalog offers services in the context of IT to business and IT to IT. Cloud Computing has commoditized a number of IT services that makes it reasonable to make some of the Cloud Computing services available though the service catalog. Especially with some IT to IT service, for example in a development environment.
A couple of examples come to mind, web hosting and database development. Web hosting sites such as Dreamhost.com provide a low cost environment for doing web development. By the same token, Azure by Microsoft provides a complete development environment for .net and SQL Server. These services are well defined and the cost of the services are clear as well.
Utilizing services in the Cloud for development can provide an IT department with tremendous flexibility. IT can then focus on managing the production environment without having to support small development environments. Internally, tracking the service provider within the service catalog along with cost allows the service consumer to make an informed decision based on price and service.
Security concerns have been the primary reason why companies have been reluctant to adopt Cloud Computing services. Adopting Cloud Computing for a development environment is one way to minimize the security risk while kicking the tires and getting experience with Cloud Computing.