IT Service Management and Business Requirements

By Tony Lock

A couple of years before terms such as “Cloud”, “Big Data” and “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) occupied the lexicon of IT publications and vendor marketing machines, the discipline of “Business Service Management” (BSM) captured many column inches. The concept at the heart of BSM was to ensure that the IT services provided to users were delivered in line with business requirements. Despite the idea being sound , real world adoption was quite low, partly due to the then low maturity of solutions and also as few organisations saw immediate requirements. In many ways BSM has now evolved into the concept of service delivery management. Is this an approach whose time has come?

Organisations are now beginning to move beyond the first stage of ‘virtualisation’ where much of the focus has been the creation of resource-efficient systems with better availability and recovery options. The next steps will take the relatively static systems that have been implemented so far and look at making them far more dynamic. Such solutions are now often referred to as “Private Cloud “.

The challenge is how to create policies that will best fit these dynamic Private Cloud IT resources to business needs. Indeed, looking even further ahead the question may become how to utilise these dynamic internal systems alongside resources running outside of the organisation’s data centres? Both of these solution architectures will necessitate the adoption of service delivery management approaches to ensure users get the services they require with the service qualities needed at optimum cost.

In addition it should be borne in mind that the SOA architecture has now taken a firm root in many enterprises, almost by stealth. By its very nature, SOA based systems also create complexity that could further encourage the adoption of ‘service delivery’ models.

Alongside these technical developments another factor is likely to encourage CIOs to modify the way IT functions from one dedicated the operational management and administration of hardware and software to one based on the idea that it is the management of service delivery that is important. This concerns the escalating pressure from all stakeholders, users, regulators and shareholders that IT be able to clearly demonstrate that is delivering the maximum business value at minimum expense and risk.

Clearly for IT to be able to adopt such service management centric operations it will be necessary for suitable monitoring and management solutions to be available. In fact several software vendors with a history in BSM such as CA, IBM, HP and BMC have made considerable strides forwards whilst Microsoft, VMware, Quest and a number of others are also developing useful tools.

It is worth noting that few organisations have a clear idea of exactly which IT services are being delivered to users, the precise quality of service levels needed or the relative business importance of each service compared with others. Effective tools to provide such information, in the guise of service catalogues, asset management repositories and SLA monitoring solutions have been available for some time, but knowledge of the value they can deliver is still remarkably rare.

But before organisations rush out to acquire such management tools, CIOs will need to be ready to change the way they look at IT. It is my opinion that the time to move to service delivery management philosophy has arrived.


Tony is an IT operations guru. As an ex-IT manager with an insatiable thirst for knowledge, his extensive vendor briefing agenda makes him one of the most well informed analysts in the industry, particularly on the diversity of solutions and approaches available to tackle key operational requirements. If you are a vendor talking about a new offering, be very careful about describing it to Tony as ‘unique’, because if it isn’t, he’ll probably know.