Does a cloud computing infrastructure obviate the need for IT Service Management systems?

Does a cloud computing infrastructure obviate the need for IT Service Management systems? The IT Skeptic thinks not.

Ken Oestreich asked this question on Twitter. Good question!

I'll refer to cloud computing infrastructure as CCI because as every IT person knows, God only gives you a billion keystrokes.

CCI removes the need for precisely zero ITSM processes/activities/whatever-we-are-calling-them-this-year. You still need to do event, continuity, availability, incident, demand, CSI... all of the ITIL stuff.

"Systems" sounds more tools-centric than process-centric to me. I can see that CCI would obviate the need for some technology-specific tools in the chunks outsourced (what's the verb? outclouded? cloudsourced? drifted away?), for example storage management or server management. But they aren't ITSM systems per se, they are IT operational systems that feed into ITSM systems.

I don't see any core ITSM systems being eliminated. You still need a central console with event automation and alerting, unless of course the cloud extends to the user's lap. You still need service level measurment and reporting, including end-user experience monitoring. You still need service desk. You still need configuration data management and reporting. Catalogue. Asset management. CCI doesn't eliminate any ITMS systems - it just makes it more problematic for them to get their data.



I suppose I'm a little late to this discussion.

But, no the cloud does not obviate Service Management.

And, no, those companies adopting cloud (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS) cannot, as one commentator writes, continue what they're doing.

Most companies do a horrible job with understanding their service portfolio, the costs of their services, and the content of their services. Adding in cloud to deliver parts of your services adds to the responsibility to make excellent make/buy decisions. Else, they are likely to add costs and risk.

Most companies, those that are not doing adequate activity-based costing for their services, will have to significantly step up their game so that they can make good evidence-based decisions.

In addition to N. Dean Meyer's Fullcost (Activity-Based Budgeting), with whom we've been partners for a while, we are actively adding to our practice using concepts from Jan Emblemsvåg's Life-Cycle Costing: Using Activity-Based Costing and Monte Carlo Methods to Manage Future Costs and Risks. We believe that, when combined with good portfolio management and high-maturity asset management, it will yield better data for decision making that can save material costs and reduce IT investment risk.

Cary King
Minerva Enterprises
Managing Partner

Well, "A" question

Unless the cloud computing infrastructure totally replaces everything IT in the organization, the answer is NO.

Even if everything is replaced, as you point out, the support services still need to be in place, so again, answer NO.

To put it another way, I'm not persuaded that it's a "good" question -- it's just a question. I have not looked at the guy's Twitter profile, but if I had to guess, I'd say he was either a marketing type or a journalist. Either that or the question demonstrates the constraints of 140 character limitation on Twitter.


Nailed it!

Just looked at his Twitter Profile and:

"Enterprise SW marketing guru. Specialize in enterprise IT, infrastructure mgmt, virtualization, and cloud computing techs"


Fair point

Ken Cameron said on twitter "IMO: Need for ITSM is actually GREATER with any Cloud!"

the more you externalise an activity

Clouds are just another form of outsourcing. Like any other outsourcing, if you outsource the governance you should be fired. Somebody still needs to own IT within the organisation, to manage the providers of the cloud. And somebody still needs to own service within the organisation, to manage the service delivery. This much is self-evident to me.

the more you externalise an activity, the better you must define, manage and measure it.

And the more you externalise the harder it is to get the transparency and ready access to data that you need to manage and measure it.

With cloud, we'll need ITSM more in order to protect our interests and our customers.

Little Fluffy Clouds

As is mentioned above, the cloud is only a cloud from the outside, behind the facade is a standard IT infrastructure albeit probably more homogeneous and with less legacy issues...

The ability of the "cloud" to deliver is completely dependent on highly advanced capacity, availability, I could go on to mention all of service management.

So the cloud needs service management, but do consumers need the same service management to manage the cloud?

I would say yes, though there will probably be less operational and more strategy and transitional (an assumption here, I think it depends on how much you trust the cloud).

We shall see where this takes us, but I agree that the buzz about clouds is not new and needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

Every cloud has a silver/bronze/more brownish/... ITSM-lining

I agree with what Ken says. If anything, ITSM will be needed more than ever. Although I believe the cloud concept certainly has its technical merits and it might just become the next best thing since Chocalate Chip Cookie Dough icecream, the need for decent ITSM will be greater than ever.

just imagine your company relying on some cloud application and when it dissolves into thin air... Who's going to take responsibilty because there might be any number of other cloud applications supporting it?

If ever there is going to be a case for decent Service Design, this will be it!

I completely agree but let's

I completely agree but let's not forget that we also can enable the cloud computing security features so hopefully the cloud in my company won't go up in the air. Nevertheless I think ITSM is a reliable backup for cloud computing.


So this blog entry (and its comments) tell me that ITSM people think that Clouds need ITSM. Next step, go ask people at if Clouds need sweaters. :-)

I don't disagree BTW, but I think there is a big challenge ahead for ITSM people/tools/practices to follow the rising tide of automation and stay at the edge of the people/system interaction.

won't change

Why? What challenge? Service is by definition what comes out to the customner. No matter how much is automated that won't change: all the external facing processes such as demand and portfolio and service levels and request and incident don't change. And no matter how much is automated it won't affect the need for the inward-facing processes such as change and config and problem and event and availability.

Sorry William but I don't see your point

P.S. John M Willis said on twitter The esteemed @jamesurquhart: says.. "The cloud is an operating model". Therefore I say, it shouldn't change our behavoir.

"You still need service

"You still need service desk. You still need configuration data management and reporting. Catalogue. Asset management."

Different issues handled by the service desk (and different split between what you handle and what you service provider handles). Different data under config mgmt. Different data in the reports. Different content in the catalog. Different assets under management.


same old but new

So same shovel different shit then :)

Same service culture, same processes, same tools. I don't see it as challenging, just relieveing the monotony

I prefer to shovel snow

Fair enough. But business history is full of organizations that failed to make such transitions. Though you and your peers are probably in better shape for being more nimble than a Kodak.

PCs, distributed computing and the internet had zero effect

:) I don'[t think the Kodak analogy works: the whole process, the business model, the paradigm changed. Despite the hysteria of tha analaysts I don't see the cloud as game changing from an ITSM point of view. certainly no more so than PCs, distributed computing or the internet and they had zero effect. The game's the same, only the tools are changing (and slowly).


"Despite the hysteria of the analysts we don't see digital imaging as game changing from a photo industry point of view. Certainly no more so than color and disposable cameras and they had zero effect. The game's the same, only the tools are changing."

From Kodak annual report, 2001

Just kidding, I agree that it's not as dramatic.

PS: you have the hardest capchas on your site. Right now it says "hammel" (or "hammet") and "dawdling". Never heard those before and I have a 50% chance of getting the first one wrong. To add insult to injury, even if I get it right I have to go through another captcha to "post" after the required "preview". So I reloaded the captcha and now I get "ment". I know I am not a native English speaker, but still. Or is it some NZ dialect?

In a world of cloud computing, you won't be able to get away with this unfriendly customer service much longer. Because cloud computing changes EVERYTHING! ;-)

OK, now I am past the "preview" and I have learned another new word: "kenner".

provided by a cloud service

My captcha is provided by a cloud service. recaptcha is widely used in the industry. possibly the widest used captcha service there is

sorry if my use of an external cloud service provider is degrading my ability to control the service delivered to you :)

(Actually i fixed the repeat-captcha issue; that part was my fault)


A couple of comments about cloud "eliminating the need for...." have come across my deck in the last few days.. Whats the source of all this.. Cloud is a advanced IT architecture that delivers some additional value added features to IT users, but nowhere is anyone saying it eliminates the need for anything. In fact, most people are saying it need advanced and mature IT service delivery lifecycle to ensure these features can be sustained.

The value of cloud is most often described as the value to the consumer of IT (enterprise or end user) not the IT Delivery Organization. Its supposed to;
- give the "illusion" of infinite resources
- eliminate upfront commitment for CapEx
- allow a pay for use (elasticity up and down)

So if you are an enterprise deploying a private cloud, some of the dynamics of this value changes. You still want to achieve the goal, but you have a larger role in the execution.

So, sure it is supposed to be cheaper, faster, more reliable, greater TCO blah'de'blah'de'blah, but everything that has ever been released in the history of IT (ITIL, Virtualization, Open Systems, PC's,...) has all been about this..

Its an evolution not a revolution. Its a concept not a product..

Brad Vaughan

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