Service Desk leads SaaS-based enterprise management into early mainstream: It’s not as if enterprise management solutions have not been available as SaaS in the past. IBM, BMC, HP, Absolute Performance, Service-now.com, ManageEngine, and others have delivered such functionality for years. But in 2011, there is a difference– vendors are investing significant R&D into SaaS-enabling their solutions, and SaaS-based enterprise management has become a realistic option for companies of all sizes.

EMA research has consistently shown that CIOs begrudge the resources required to host such products. Most want to keep “core” IT services in-house, where core is defined as those applications and services which are critical to the health of the business. Non-core services are another story, and this is particularly true of enterprise management products. The specialized skills necessary to install, configure, maintain, and operate such products are relatively scarce, and expensive when they can be found.

These products continued to mature throughout 2010, to the point where SaaS-based solutions are now viable options in comparisons against on-premise products. In Q4 of 2010, for example, IBM announced the introduction of Tivoli Live- service manager, a comprehensive ITSM suite of solutions delivered as SaaS and headlined by Tivoli Service Desk. The beauty of these offerings is that they can be delivered in multiple form factors– on-premise, as SaaS, as an appliance, or as a managed service—or as a combination. This provides a basis to bring acquired companies online very quickly, to deploy management solutions at a departmental or BU level, or to start “small” with unlimited capacity for growth over time.

As CIOs emerge from the poverty-induced haze of the past two years into a much-altered business environment, they will be seeking creative solutions for surviving in a new era of competition. Many will seek an “easy button”, and while Service Desk is still an essential service, the delivery mechanism may not be as important as the capability. With quality products now available, 2011 may well see SaaS-based enterprise management, led by Service Desk, move into early mainstream.

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