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Hybrid ITSM: Evolution and Challenges

(Posted by Manu Singh)

When you compare an ITSM solution based on public cloud with that of an on-premise solution, there is no way to determine which one is superior. Although public cloud based ITSM solutions provide an on-demand self-service; flexibility at a reduced cost is not the only factor that should be considered while choosing deployment options.

Customization has always been a major issue while deploying a cloud based ITSM solution. While every organization has its own way of handling incidents, problem, change and release management; it's the business needs that determine how the IT service management solution is deployed. Cloud based ITSM solutions can be inflexible at times - a kind of one-size-fits-all proposition. Any change / customization will go through testing across the entire user base for all the clients which will lead to unnecessary delay in deploying the required functionality.  In some cases, a release may not even be implemented at all if a few users do not approve of the change.

In other words, using a standard application across multiple users gives limited options for changes in configuration. Organizations may face a risk as requirements continue to change as dictated by a dynamic business environment. Limited options to change configuration settings may not be the best solution in such a scenario.

Another reason organizations are unlikely to stick with a cloud-only solution is that it gets expensive as the years go by. Analysts have also predicted that SaaS based ITSM tools may not be the preferred option as the amount of effort invested in implementing, integrating, operating and maintaining tools would likely result in increasing actual costs rather than reducing it.

But this does not mean that the cloud based ITSM model is likely to vanish. It will still be a good bet for organizations that have limited IT skills on-site and are only looking for standardization of their processes without much customization and dynamic integration requirements.
It stands to reason, that organizations would prefer to have both options - i.e. a cloud-based ITSM offering that can be rapidly deployed and a premise-based one which would support on-going customization and dynamic integration.

Hybrid ITSM combines best of both worlds' i.e. public and on-premise/private clouds.  It focuses on increasing the scalability, dependability and efficiency by merging shared public resources) with private dedicated resources.
However, implementing a hybrid model is not as easy as it seems, as it comes with its own set of challenges, some of which are listed below:

  • Management and visibility of resources that fall outside the scope of managed services
  • Ensuring the consistency of changes implemented between the on-premise and the cloud service provider
  • Supporting open tool access with consistency in the data / look and feel
  • Managing shared network between the on-premise data center and the cloud service provider
  • Seamless integration between on-premise and cloud infrastructure in order to share workload at peak times

Looking at the above challenges, it is clear that organizations need to do a thorough due diligence to identify:

  • Data and network security requirement (data encryption, firewall etc.)
  • Tool usage requirement, storage requirement (on-premise or cloud)
  • Robust change management in order to track and coordinate changes between the two environments
  • Fail-safe infrastructure set up so that the availability of the tool is not hampered
  • A robust asset and configuration management  to track the assets within business control and dependency with assets on public cloud
  • A framework defining governance, statutory and support requirements

Ideally, organizations need to follow an approach that incorporates the aforesaid requirements early on during the discovery and design phase.
My next post will cover the implementation approach for Hybrid ITSM along with the mitigation strategies for some of the common challenges.

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