Hybrid Will Triumph: IT Service Management In 2013

The notion that IT Service Management solutions will migrate exclusively to the cloud in 2013 is far from becoming a reality. The mindset behind this thinking is that enterprises are universally aligned in their belief that IT services should and must be moved wholesale to the cloud, which promises to significantly reduce costs and management overheads, enable IT to realise greater efficiencies, and roll-out services quickly.

While cloud computing is without a doubt a significant and strategic element of the IT puzzle, it will hardly displace on-premise IT services. This is particularly true when it comes to IT Service Management (ITSM).

While 2013 may be positioned as the ‘Year of the cloud’, my forecast for 2013 and beyond very much sees businesses entering the ‘Era of Hybrid ITSM’. The reason is simple; customers want choice, particularly in a disruptive economy where organisations need to be agile. Without a crystal ball, it is impossible to see what is coming around the corner and the need for flexibility has never been so important.

Cloud Economics

Analyst firm Gartner recently predicted that 30% of companies that are now using cloud-based ITSM tools will revert back to a premise-based solution by 2014 [How to Decide Whether SaaS ITSM Tools Make Sense for Your Organisation]. Cloud-based ITSM makes a lot of sense for many organisations, particularly those that support remote/branch offices and have limited IT resources. Conversely, for organisations with deep technical skills and resources, running strategic applications like ITSM on-premise is advantageous, especially for those with ongoing customisation requirements and dynamic integrations.

But when it comes to choosing a cloud vs. on-premise ITSM solution, is a cloud-based model inherently superior? CIOs and IT managers have been wrestling with this question for some time now. A key stumbling block has to do with the binary nature of this question. The either/or options are overly restrictive, because no two organisations are alike, nor are their ITSM requirements; they don’t fit neatly into one or the other deployment model.

Hybrid Domination

Given the fact most enterprises sit somewhere in the middle, a hybrid ITSM strategy – combining cloud and on-premise offerings – is a clear advantage. Gartner is not alone in recognising this trend. A survey of 95 IT executives by IDG’s CXO Media CIO Peer2Peer Research Panel found that 55% prefer a hybrid ITSM model, 33% prefer a premises-based solution, and only 13% opt for a pure cloud offering.

The common denominator underlying these insights is customer demand for flexibility which is why 2013 is shaping up to be focused on Hybrid ITSM. Enterprises must have the ability to deploy cloud-based ITSM tools where it makes the most sense and premise-based solutions where the cloud model is not optimal.

By having a single solution, organisations will be the beneficiaries of a unified and centralised management console that is critical when considering the sheer volume of incidents, configuration changes, change and problem management requests that must be handled on a daily, monthly and annual basis.

Price is not the only fly in the cloud ointment. Customisation in the cloud is another major issue to consider when deploying ITSM solutions. Each organisation is unique in how it handles incidents, configuration management, change management and release management, not to mention problem management and the business rules that drive the performance of service desks. Shared applications in the cloud that are largely standardised make configuration changes more complex which introduces an element of risk.

Delivering On Service

This is why hybrid ITSM will emerge as the dominant model in 2013 and beyond. Organisations don’t want – nor must they – be forced into an either/or model. Delivering on employee experience is the primary objective for many IT departments and having the right IT model is imperative to that. Organisations want the flexibility to deploy ITSM solutions via cloud or on-premise as needs dictate, and when and where it makes the most sense for the ever changing organisation.

Kevin J. Smith is responsible for the Cloud Business Unit, including all strategy, go to market and customer success activities for the growing portfolio of FrontRange cloud applications. Kevin brings over 25 years of technical, management, and executive leadership experience in technology and software businesses. Prior to FrontRange, Kevin has held positions as Vice President of Solutions Management at Manugistics, Vice President of Operations at Avyx, as well as Flight Design Manager with NASA at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas where he began his career in 1983. Kevin holds a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from Texas A&M University and a Master of Science in Computer Science from the University of Houston.