Now matter how much enterprise technology has changed over the year, CIOs continue to deal with a recurring challenge: Sprawl. Over the years it’s been server and virtual machine sprawl, now it’s cloud sprawl.
It’s a challenge that ServiceNow is trying to tackle with the release of its ITBM Business Management Suite. The offering is aimed at helping IT rationalize application investment and optimize resources, according to Farrell Hough, general manager and vice-president of ITSM and product operations at ServiceNow. “Cloud growth is going to mean cloud sprawl.”
The introduction of ITBM reflects the results of a recent survey conducted by the company, which found that more than half of respondents said they would choose cloud for new business applications as the platform of choice over on-premises data centres, while 77 per cent said they would complete the shift to cloud within two years. Hough said that as DevOps pushes the envelope and embraces the cloud for new applications and services, there will be consequences for IT. “IT’s visibility into what’s happening is critical.”
ITBM is meant to be a command centre for the CIO, she said, so there can be a comprehensive view of all IT resources, projects and costs, as well as ensure alignment with business objectives. Larger companies can have hundreds, if not thousands, of applications including s0-called “shadow IT” not directly under the control of the IT department. This leads to unnecessary spending because of duplication, under-utilization and licensing compliance issues.
Hough said the cloud-first era requires CIOs to have a 360-degree view of the entire portfolio of services and business applications and to better predict the cost of IT. Without proper visibility and control, enterprise often deploy point-products; sometimes lines of business bypass IT departments completely to solve their most immediate problems.
ServiceNow’s cloud-based ITBM brings together project and portfolio management, IT financial management and application portfolio management together so that CIOs have single view of thousands of IT applications, assets, services, projects, service levels and risk profiles, said Hough, all of which can be connected to the customer’s configuration management database (CMDB). This enables them to rationalize their investments using indicators and metrics that reflect the true cost and performance of business applications and services, she said. From there they can focus on allocating resources more effectively to support business outcomes.
Dennis Drogseth, vice-president of Enterprise Management Associates, Inc. said there is a lot of conversation and confusion around lot of alignment of IT business, and it includes a lot of cloud computing and agile development which were perspectives that weren’t present 20 years ago.
Drogseth recently hosted a webinar addressing the broader issue of optimizing IT for financial performance, and said ServiceNow’s ITBM is in line with the general direction CIOs need to follow. And while he does see cloud sprawl as a present challenge for enterprises, he’s always hated the idea of the “journey to the cloud” and that is the ultimate destination. “Cloud is a set of option and resources. It has its own challenges and needs to be optimized and understood.”
ServiceNow is ahead of the curve in addressing the issue of cloud sprawl and optimizing the overall IT portfolio to bring usage, cost and value in alignment, said Drogseth. Enterprises need to consider both operating and capital expenses when looking at the applications deployed, both in the cloud and not, as well as consider shadow IT, which can often be more progressive, even though there’s no central control. “There could be a lot of redundant applications.”
Enterprises also need to divorce themselves of the idea that their application portfolio is driven by a business analyst telling them what they need, he added. Rather, it should be an ongoing conversation between business and IT that lead to frequent yet informed changes. “It not a quarterly update where everyone yawns.”