Is ITAM impacted by adoption of cloud services?

One of the reasons I love being in the software industry is that it is always changing.  The moment you think you have things figured out, something new happens and you have to get back to work at solving new problems.


IT silos are coming down as business users and IT are racing to implement and adopt various public, private and hybrid cloud solutions.  We have lots of new acronyms too – all ending with “as a service”.  IT is now a broker of services and has to choose how to deliver services.  Is IT just now starting to deliver “services”? NO!


I looked for a definition of IT service and it is not something that is easy to find – usually it gets translated to ITSM.  I did find, however, an interesting post on the subject on The IT Skeptic site.  I have to say that I agree with that definition and some of the comments about the post. By the IT Skeptic’s definition, IT has always provided services.  But now, I also hear about “traditional services” and “cloud services”.  What’s the difference? University of Michigan provides a definition of sorts.  Wikipedia offers a definition of cloud computing. I like part of the Webopedia definition as well. 


I would say that a cloud service is a service provided via internet (can be inside or outside a corporate firewall), using shared infrastructure and virtual hardware with the ability to dynamically scale to meet consumer demand. In contrast, “traditional service” can use physical or virtual infrastructure, but it has dedicated infrastructure and its capacity is not elastic. 


OK, so now we have a working definition of the terms, let’s focus on IT Asset Management.


IT Asset Management is one of those disciplines that you can live without, but you won’t know if you are living well or not.  ITAM helps bring in spending controls and overall fiscal discipline.  I sometimes get the feeling it is viewed as “necessary evil”.  ITAM itself is a cost, an overhead, so its value can only be measured in savings.


If you are moving to cloud services, do you still need ITAM?  We will agree that we do for private and hybrid clouds – after all we still own hardware and software.


But what if you adopt public cloud?  You don’t own hardware or software, right?  Wrong!


Even in public environments IT will own some infrastructure – it provides personal computing services, network infrastructure, security services and performs many other tasks that enable end users to consume IT services.  What it we manage to “BYO” everything on the personal computing side and use cloud for everything else?  I guess we won’t have an IT department per se, but we will have contracts for all those services.


The reality is that even in the public cloud environment; IT will exist and will own some assets, including software.  While you may get the infrastructure or platform computing environments from the cloud, you will still have to install your own software, therefore you will have to manage compliance and entitlements to ensure optimal use of resources.  You will still have some traditional services and the transition itself will take some time.


In fact, software asset management (SAM)may get more challenging as you will have to deal with flexing environments in the cloud and tracking compliance for some models (like those involving CPU data in calculations) may become nearly impossible.  SAM will definitely require that you work with various vendors to ensure your licensing terms allow you to use the software in public clouds and that you have ability to manage compliance.


You will also have to deal with more contracts. You still have hardware and software maintenance, but now you will have to have more subscriptions from public cloud vendors.  You will need to track internal entitlements to various services.


If you build private cloud environments, ITAM will pretty much work the way it does today.  Again, SAM is where you will need to pay more attention – flexible infrastructure will mean compliance may be more complex.

If you build hybrid solution, then you will have to deal with all the complexities of private AND public cloud environments.

This means ITAM is still very much needed and as we are trying to optimize costs, perhaps even grow in importance.


So, make sure that ITAM is engaged in the cloud discussions from the beginning.  To learn more why Software Asset Management is more important than ever and how HP SAM solution helps solve the customers’ challenges, please watch the video:


And keep an eye out for my future blogs.

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