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IT Service Management Moves to the Cloud

By John Moore, CIO
February 05, 2013 11:50 AM ET

CIO - Equinix faced a global conundrum: How to meet its in-house IT needs amid a rapid expansion into 31 markets worldwide.

The Redwood City, Calif.-based data center and interconnection company has experienced double-digit growth in recent years, with acquisitions and international expansion helping to fuel the build out. Since 2007, Equinix's purchases have included IXEurope, Virtu and Ancotel in Europe; Switch and Data in the U.S.; ALOG Data Centers in Brazil; and Asia Tone in Hong Kong.

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As Equinix grew its data center holdings, the company also accumulated a number of IT service management (ITSM) tools. The company at one point employed a half dozen systems to automate IT delivery. Equinix decided to migrate to a single toolkit to get everyone on the same ITSM page. It opted for a Software-as-a-Service platform to get there: ServiceNow, a San Diego-based company that provides cloud-based services for automating IT operations.

"We went to a cloud-based ITSM product," notes Brian Lille, CIO at Equinix. "We wanted a standard way to provision services. In the tool set, we have created a common language around the world IT team...where we didn't have one before."

SaaS Lowers IT Service Management Costs

The shift to enterprise-wide SaaS deployment in IT service management seems to gaining momentum. ITSM, as a practice, promotes the creation of unified processes to boost the quality of an IT organizations services. From a tooling standpoint, ITSM software encompasses an array of components, from help desk automation to incident reporting and management.

Analysis: Why IT Service Management Is a Good Starting Point for SaaS

Until recently, most solutions have been on-premises. But SaaS has begun to take hold as companies look to cut costs and introduce solutions with the flexibility to accommodate an increasingly complex IT environment.

Jack Probst, president-elect of the Information Technology Service Management Forum ( itSMF) USA, an organization for ITSM professionals, says the SaaS shift was a bit slow to get underway. The pace of acceptance is quickening, however.

"Within the last 18 months, there have been a lot of organizations...moving away from the on-site model to the remote model. Just about everyone now is jumping on the SaaS model," he says.

Probst, who is principal consultant at ITSM consulting firm Pink Elephant in addition to his itSFM USA role, attributed some of the movement to price. "One of the challenges for the ITSM tools has always been the cost."

Probst says IT automation tools originated in the 1990s with the arrival of help desk, call center and, later, service desk software. Over time, additional processes were added to the mix, particularly with the growing prevalence of the IT Infrastructure Library ( ITIL) and its set of IT service management practices. Software modules began to surface for service catalog, change management, configuration management, incident management and problem management, among other functions.

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