Why the Future of Service Management May Not Be in the Cloud
When implementing enterprise request management (ERM)—a centralized portal where employees can request any type of business service, product or resource—is it best to plan for an on-premises implementation or adoption of cloud-based software?
The answer, as it so often the case with these types of questions, is: it depends. While cloud deployment is clearly compelling for several types of applications, it’s common for enterprises to take a mixed approach at this stage; a Google search for “hybrid cloud” (with the quotes) returns more than four million results.
With request management software, as with any type of sophisticated business application, there are sensible arguments in favor of (and against) both approaches. Here are six considerations to keep in mind when debating ERM infrastructure questions within your organization.
A key element of the ERM approach is that it leverages in-place systems—ERP, finance, HR, maintenance management, etc.—to enable business function managers and staff to continue using familiar applications and quickly build-out their department’s “service items” and workflow automation processes.
Furthermore, service requests in ERM can range from simple (password resets, PTO requests) tasks that touch only one application to highly complex (project resource coordination, new employee onboarding) workflow processes involving multiple core management and control systems.
Given the right type of integration tools (support for open protocols like SOAP, JSON, REST), “where” each application is installed shouldn’t matter. But it’s a key area to understand and plan for before making ERM-related infrastructure decisions.
A second consideration is your organization’s philosophy or strategy for cloud computing. Is it aggressive? Cautious? Incremental? Selective?
Based on a variety of factors—strategic direction, existing talent, in-place infrastructure, organizational policy, etc.—different CIOs take different approaches to the cloud. Enterprises moving aggressively to cloud computing will likely make different choices than those following a hybrid cloud or more cautious path.
Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)
Cost is frequently cited as an advantage of using cloud-based software, but the cloud doesn’t always save money in the long run.
Cost should only be one factor in any case, though it is an important one. When evaluating the costs of an on-premises installation vs. the cloud for any type of service management software, be sure to identify and compare all associated costs of purchase/subscription and ownership over at least a three-to-five year time frame.
Though cloud services are generally quite reliable, they do have outages from time to time. To protect themselves from even temporary loss of access to vital information and applications (or even just price increases), enterprises may choose to keep their servers and data centers as a backup. This affects cost calculations and may ultimately impact infrastructure decisions.
Of course, internal networks go down sometimes as well.
As with reliability, cloud providers invest a great deal in security. Nevertheless, they make large targets and breaches do happen. Depending on their experience, security infrastructure, and the sensitivity of specific data, enterprises reach different decisions about moving different applications to the cloud.
In the case of IT service management applications including service catalogs, the data is generally less sensitive (and interesting to potential hackers) than customer and financial information.
While internet reliability isn’t much of a worry in North America, Europe, Australia, or much of Asia, there are countries where it remains problematic. An organization with operations in such areas may want to avoid cloud-only offerings.
Cloud? On-premises? When deciding on the infrastructure for service management applications, the only bad choice is one made without considering all relevant factors.
For more information on this topic, download the ERM Technology white paper.