Cloud is no longer a new topic for IT, or for IT service management (ITSM). But its impact on how ITSM teams work, as well as on how IT works overall, has probably never been greater.

Indeed, more and more IT organizations have been “moving to the cloud.” But understanding its relevance can’t be achieved by viewing cloud as a “destination,” as if it were some miraculous travel resort in the sky—in spite of the much overused phrase “journey to the cloud.” Optimizing cloud isn’t a linear process of simply “getting there.” Rather, cloud is a multifaceted resource to be utilized, managed, and understood in conjunction with other IT resources as an enabler of cost, service, and business efficiencies.

Leveraging EMA research on the future of ITSM and on digital and IT transformation, this blog looks at data relevant to the impact of cloud on ITSM teams and addresses the following questions:

  • Where and how are cloud adoptions (both public and private) occurring?
  • How is cloud affecting IT priorities overall, and how is it affecting ITSM priorities in particular?
  • Where and how is cloud changing how ITSM teams work?
  • What are some of the more prominent obstacles to integrating cloud for service management? And how is cloud adoption impacting ITSM success?
  • What should you look for in the future?

Where and how are cloud adoptions occurring? Our digital transformation research confirms what other EMA research data indicates: Private or internal cloud adoption is still well ahead of public cloud adoption overall, although a hybrid, 50/50 balance between public and private is very much on the rise. Yet among the more popular services, external SaaS applications are number one and externally hosted infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offerings are at the number three spot. Top internal cloud priorities include software-defined data centers, internally hosted virtual applications, and internal IaaS options.

How is cloud affecting IT and ITSM priorities? In terms of IT overall, our digital transformation research indicated that 85% of IT organizations are, in some way, linking their IT or digital transformation initiatives to cloud. The data also indicates that they view cloud primarily as a resource for transformation, but also as both a driver to promote more dialog between IT and the business and a catalyst for IT to become more holistic and cross-domain. However, some respondents felt that cloud was actually isolating IT from the business, and 15% felt that cloud was more disruptive than helpful in general.

When we asked specifically how cloud was impacting ITSM teams in our ITSM research, we saw that similarly, cloud was viewed first and foremost as a resource for expanding ITSM capabilities. But many ITSM teams also indicated that cloud…

  1. 1. Requires higher levels of automation
  2. 2. Makes us to pay more attention to DevOps
  3. 3. Makes asset management more challenging
  4. 4. Enables ITSM teams to reduce costs (could be OpEx or CapEx)
  5. 5. Puts pressure on ITSM to justify costs
  6. 6. Shortens review cycles for managing change
  7. 7. Promotes the representation of third-party SaaS services in our service catalogs

Where and how is cloud changing how ITSM teams work? The shifting priorities indicated above help to answer this very question. There’s a growing need for:

  • More advanced levels of automation
  • More creative and dynamic approaches to asset management and managing change
  • Expanding the reach of service catalogs to include SaaS and potentially other cloud services
  • Better integration with other parts of IT, such as development for DevOps
  • Minimizing costs and optimizing value and, by implication, documenting just how this is being done

Other data from our ITSM research indicates that a lot of these advances will have to come from better integrations with operations in terms of incident, problem, and change management, as well as shared analytics and superior process automation and workflow.

How is cloud impacting ITSM success, and what are some of the obstacles to watch out for? In terms of how cloud is impacting ITSM success, there are strong data indicators that those ITSM teams that embrace cloud are far more likely to succeed than those that resist it. For instance, those who were extremely successful in making ITSM strategic and relevant were twice as likely to have support for cloud services in their service catalog and twice as likely to invest in more advanced levels of automation for change, both in support of cloud adoption and overall. Successful ITSM teams were also more likely to prioritize integrated operations for incident, problem, and change management in support of cloud than ITSM teams who viewed themselves as less successful.

When asked about obstacles to “superior cross-domain IT service management,” including cloud adoption, our respondents singled out organizational and political issues as number one. Poor dialog and communication across IT also ranked as a top obstacle, followed by lack of effectively defined processes and software deployment and administrative complexity.

What should you look for in the future? While I don’t have an actual crystal ball, I’m happy to make what I feel are three fairly safe predictions.

  1. Cloud will continue to drive the need for better ITSM-Operations integration, a process that’s still very much in its infancy.
  2. Cloud will continue to challenge ITSM teams and IT as a whole with its requirements and complexity, given the advent of software-defined data centers, microservices, and containers, as well as more pervasive public/private cloud adoption.
  3. Not everything will move to the cloud, nor should it. So governance will become key—a central point of opportunity for ITSM teams. This will require understanding OpEx efficiencies as well as service relevance, portfolio optimization, and IT asset (including cloud) costs.