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When worlds collide - the Cloud and ITIL

A dream came true ... it has never been easier for IT to create and provide IT services. Cloud computing and hybrid delivery models enable IT to act like a real service provider and service broker. Users benefit from speed, agility and high service quality, from automated deployment and self-service capabilities - it seems like the age of going through lengthy change procedures reaches its end. Really?


While preparing for a business whitepaper I found some controversial issues in a couple of blog posts. In one of them, ITIL vs. The Cloud: Pick One, I read that the Cloud is fundamentally incompatible with ITIL. What? I could not disagree more. Let me explain why ...


I think that ITIL is more important in the Cloud than ever before. From my perspective there are three fundamental reasons for this:

  1. ITIL has been focusing on services and the service lifecycle early on. IT now has the technology platform - the Cloud - to deliver what they always have aimed for: end-to-end services. ITIL's concept of the service lifecycle and the Cloud's service delivery model inherently align.
  2. There is a gap: The Cloud does not necessarily address organizational and process requirements, which become more event when services compose of elements from different internal and external service providers. The Cloud does not eliminate the need for processes. The Cloud does not change the number of calls per day to the service desk. The types of requests change, the processes need to adapt but bottom line, ITIL and IT Service Management help closing this gap.
  3. The customer/consumer orientation of the Cloud drives the evolution of the service catalog, support self-services and related processes, but also the management of a service portfolio, again concepts that always have been a vital part of ITIL.

And there are more reasons. See the blog posts of some of my HP colleagues, Cloud computing: Is ITIL still relevant? and Have your Cloud and ITIL too, who put additional interesting thoughts to the whole Cloud/ITIL discussion.


At the end of the day, I think, the Cloud will give ITIL a boost. Without having the right processes in place, without looking at the right measures there is a huge potential for chaos: Managing a network of internal and external service providers, while at the same time managing users expectations for service levels and streamlining processes to minimize or eliminate manuals handoffs, could result in mountains of challenges. Fingerpointing and bad service experiences would be inevitable.


ITIL as well as other industry best practices and standards are an opportunity to help avoiding scenarios like the above. What is better prepared to deal with these new challenges than a best practices framework like ITIL? Sure, ITIL probably has to change, ITIL has to adopt to the Cloud because of its near realtime nature, and the requirement to manage services in a hybrid world. There will be probably also a couple of shifts: While changes, for example, in the service transition and operation lifecycle stages will be more and more automated, they need to begin much earlier in the service lifecycle and aspects like the management of a portfolio of services come more into focus.


Anyway, this is a fascinating time ahead of us. When worlds collide there is a chance that a new star is born ... true end-to-end services become reality, and by leveraging ITIL and the Cloud, IT can become a shining star -for the business and its customers.


What do you think?


Michael Pott

wayraw | ‎09-15-2011 06:44 AM

Micheal, I could not agree more. From an Enterprise Services perspective, ITIL is as important as ever. It just needs to evolve in the cloud era. We need to do more architecture, design and service intake upfront so the services can be standardized and offered on a portal. The architecture, applications and management tools need to evolve to provide the measurement and feedback that the business needs to make sure that security, risk and value imperatives are realized.


I think the naysayer that said ITIL and Cloud are mutually exclusive makes a living in the SMB space where you can get away with a minimal amount of process. I don't think he lives in the same world we do.

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About the Author
Michael Pott is a Product Marketing Manager for HP ITSM Solutions. Responsibilities include out-bound marketing and sales enablement. Mic...

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