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Benefits of ITSM: Use an ITSM portal as gateway to cloud services

Requiring users to access the cloud via an ITSM portal will reduce spending, explains Andy Sealock in part two of his tip on leveraging the benefits of ITSM in cloud services.

In part one of his tip on using IT service management to optimize cloud services, sourcing expert Andy Sealock laid out the many ways in which companies spend inefficiently in the cloud. Automation tools exist to help companies optimize their cloud spending, he said, but the tools don't address the enterprise's big problem: How to get employees accessing cloud-based services to comply with a cloud governance framework.

In part two of this tip on the benefits of ITSM, Sealock, managing director at Pace Harmon, builds the case for using the company's ITSM portal to serve as the interface between users and the cloud.

Editor's note: The following has been edited for clarity and brevity.

Why use an ITSM portal to govern cloud-based services?

Andy Sealock: A lot of enterprises use tools to optimize their cloud spend, and they come up with the governance framework, but they're still left with a problem.

How do you actually implement that? How do you get maybe hundreds of people in your company to comply with your governance framework as they lay their hands on keyboards on a day-to-day basis?

This is where ITSM comes in. I laid out a big problem [concerning inefficient use of cloud-based services], but there is a huge opportunity if you do it right. And we think ITSM is an enabling way to do governance right and to solve that big problem -- and maybe save yourself 30% to 50% on your cloud environment.

Andy SealockAndy Sealock

Generally, when you're using cloud-based services, you interface directly with that cloud portal -- with AWS' cloud portal or Google Cloud Platform or Microsoft Azure. What you can do now is -- between your end user and your cloud portal -- you can have users instead interface with your ITSM portal.

Many of these ITSM portals already integrate seamlessly on the back end with those big cloud portals. ServiceNow, for example, has a functionality called AWS Service Catalog Connector -- that is the back-end integration between ServiceNow and AWS.

So, instead of your end users interfacing directly into the AWS or Azure, they go through what hopefully should be a familiar interface to them -- they just go into their ITSM portal.

How do you reap the benefits of ITSM with this interface?

Sealock: Within your ITSM portal workflow, you can codify the rulesets that will systemically implement your governance policies within the service request and your provisioning process, which is highly automated.

Of every organization out in the cloud, there is a subset that realizes you need to do cloud spend optimization, and of that subset, there is still a smaller subset that is using their ITSM tools and processes to do it. This is the early adopter stage. But it is real.
Andy Sealockmanaging director, Pace Harmon

We're talking rules like authorization -- based on your login, are you authorized to go buy these kinds of services? Are you allowed to spend that much money? The ITSM portal can even check the type of workload being put in there and whether it has the right architecture and design rules.

You can put in rules governing cloud instances. Sometimes things happen that you can't forecast, and you can't use an instance anymore. If it's a one- or three-year reserved instance, you still own it, and you can use it for another purpose. Many people buy reserved instances and they don't use them and forget about them. The next time they need one, they come in and buy a new one when they could have used the old one they bought a year ago.

All those types of rules -- the governance frameworks around authorization, the types of spend, security guidelines, architecture guidelines, on-demand and reserved instance guidelines -- you can take all those rules and put them into the workflow of your ITSM tool. And now everybody has to comply with the governance framework. They don't have a choice. That is the beauty and cleanness of it.

How do you balance reaping the benefits of ITSM with providing a good user experience?

Sealock: You don't want to make the ITSM interface cumbersome to the point where it's creating friction, because people will try to work around it. You don't want to get in the way of the flexibility and ease and scalability of the cloud. But you may want to make it a bit difficult to use, so you don't have people able to go in and spend money willy-nilly. It's a balancing act.

You can't have the cloud be the Wild West, where you're losing your corporate governance and you're spending millions of dollars that you shouldn't be spending, or you're doing work in instances that are not secure. If you can funnel everybody through the ITSM portal, it is an order of magnitude better [than not having a governance framework.]

Where are companies on utilizing the benefits of ITSM to govern cloud usage?

Sealock: Of every organization out in the cloud, there is a subset that realizes you need to do cloud spend optimization, and of that subset, there is still a smaller subset that is using their ITSM tools and processes to do it. This is the early adopter stage. But it is real.

As the public cloud starts displacing the traditional data center footprint, companies are figuring out that it's not just enough to be in the cloud -- they actually have to be efficient in the cloud. They need to optimize their cloud spend, they need to have a governance framework, so that users buy the right things and reuse the things they do buy. That's what is really going to make a business case work.

We think that using ITSM is the way to really roll that out and implement your cloud governance framework among the users, so that it's really going to happen every day, for hundreds of end users putting fingers on keyboards -- that's when the rubber meets the road.

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