There’s been a lot of movement in the IT operations management (ITOM) business lately, from the acquisition of SignalFx by Splunk to the PagerDuty IPO, and all signs point to a Datadog IPO in the future. What’s with all this consolidation? I believe we’re seeing the rise of a future-state of ITOM; that is to say, it’s the rise of SaaS-based ITOM. And it’s easy to see why.
In my previous consulting career as lead enterprise systems architect, our team had an impeccable record in designing and implementing well-architected hybrid infrastructure solutions. We maintained an immaculate record and near-flawless customer satisfaction record. By project sign-off, our job was always done. And yet, returning to the same solutions six months later told a different story entirely.
Well-architected solutions are similar to human bodies: They are perfect when they’re born but need constant care and feeding. These same solutions that satisfied SLAs, exceeded expectations and transformed organizational efficiency can easily degenerate, and just like our bodies have their nervous systems to monitor, brains to send alerts and tissue to self-heal, well-architected systems need operational maintenance to keep them humming.
The traditional approach for solving this eternal need was and still is to design and implement well-architected IT operation management (ITOM) solutions, around a well-architected infrastructure. And yet, this is a self-fulfilling paradox because the ITOM solution itself needs the same care and feeding.
There’s a Problem On-Premise
ITOM is a broad term encompassing application and operating system (OS) performance, alerts, log management, notification, asset configuration, incident management and more. It typically involves the purchase of a suite of on-premise point tools addressing each need, and then to develop an internal framework to help those tools interoperate in a meaningful way. While that is possible conceptually, the facts on the ground reflect a very different reality:
- Multi-vendor tools are often not designed to work together.
- Creating an internal logical framework that orchestrates various teams and technologies can be very complex in large enterprises.
- It’s near-impossible to create technical integrations flexible enough to adhere to inevitable organizational and technological changes that will affect this logical framework.
- Predicting cost-of-ownership is nearly impossible since each tool is controlled by a different vendor, and the internal integration effort is often unknown.
- Predicting the cost of the manpower required is also very difficult, as each tool requires its own set of specialists, in addition to integration specialists to make it all work together.
- Upkeep is often overwhelming, as vendors offload software patches, upgrades and on-premises hardware costs to the customer.
In the face of all these challenges, the end result is often unrealized value, overwhelmed operational teams, loss of service and inability to accommodate new technologies resulting business service disruptions.
Why Cloud? Why Now?
It’s historically been near-impossible to build a traditional ITOM platform on-premise. Vendors typically sell a collection of white-labeled tools cobbled together by acquisitions, and this is far from a platform. The complexity and the rate of technological change make it difficult to provide consistent quality and value across the various product lines. This puts the ITOps team squarely in the middle of a pickle: How can they ride the wave of a changing environment without relying on static tool suites?
The Future is Flexible
Enterprise ITOps has been stretched now more than ever. There is a serious skills gap, shortage in IT workforce and ever-increasing technical complexity. Time and resources are precious, and Enterprise ITOps need simplicity and predictability along with flexibility and control. Enter SaaS ITOM. By moving the ITOM function to a SaaS orientation, the responsibilities, workloads and daily tasks can transform according to the needs of the organization:
Keeping Up with the Business
SaaS ITOM can keep up with technological change, and keep pace with cloud, DevOps, artificial intelligence and more. In the world of SaaS, change is an accepted constant and not an inconvenience. What’s more, SaaS ITOM is infinitely more consumable than the tool suites of legacy past, and that reduces the learning curves associated with running ITOps.
Keeping Up with Industry Needs
A SaaS ITOM platform will be able to deliver a framework that’s both flexible and governed and can accommodate technical and organizational complexities. This agility is a feature of modern SaaS. SaaS ITOM can also integrate features running on a single code base supported completely by the SaaS vendor, who will absorb maintenance and upgrade cycles, freeing considerable and valuable time back to the operator. All of this results in a more predictable total cost of ownership, improved service quality and more value to the business user.
It’s not news the world of IT is moving to the cloud. It is news, however, that cloud can offer such transformational benefits in ways we’ve never seen before.