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Supporting the value of cloud-based services with ITIL 4

image of cloud makde of various small icons including padlock and watch as lines extend out to servers on wall on each side

Cloud-based IT services have created a massive change in the traditional IT model, the way IT is delivered and the agility enabled as a result.

With cloud, organizations are getting access to technology services in days and weeks rather than months and delivering products to market far more quickly.

However, today, the bigger challenge is not necessarily managing the technology but the human dimension: people want to know why they should change what they’ve been accustomed to and, therefore, need a basic foundation to handle a shift to the cloud.

Consequently, ITIL processes – or, in the ITIL® 4 world, practices – are more valid than ever to support the benefits of cloud and digital when used in the context of the Service Value System (SVS) introduced in ITIL 4.

An ITSM framework for cloud services

When thinking about managing cloud-based services, the IT organization should be leading the charge in how to deliver something new and valuable for the enterprise as a whole.

But this means considering organizational change first; in other words, the needs of the business first and technology second with frameworks championed by IT leadership and adopted throughout the organization.

Regardless of the adopted frameworks, IT people need to understand the importance of factors like “return to shareholder value”. The ability to add to the bottom line is critical if they are going to be taken seriously by the board. Earning this credibility means that CIOs are less likely to be beaten down on their budgets and be better able to invest in innovation and create value.

Therefore, IT leadership should adopt frameworks and practices which can deliver value to the organization and use those which can show the value provided by IT to the business. This requires the additional step of IT leadership understanding what the business and its customers see as value.

Informing and advising the board about the story of how and why cloud is successful has to go far beyond the idea of cost savings: it’s about IT and business services being fit for purpose, speeding up time to market and supporting the customer experience.

ITIL 4 and value

Where ITIL 4 is speaking more directly to today’s IT challenges is in focusing on value rather than output.

The ITIL 4 Service Value System and Service Value Chain ensure there is an emphasis on thinking about the customer end-to-end: where is the customer in this and how happy are they going to be?

And when it comes to cloud-based services, the discussion is less about the technology and data centres and more about managing services and software. This change, and adopting new ways of working, is affected very much by culture and behaviour – which is where the ITIL 4 Guiding Principles provide balance and direction.

ITIL 4 and change

The more flexible and savvy organizations today realize there needs to be a combination of Agile methods, DevOps and ITIL – among other approaches – in play. The message in ITIL 4 that it’s necessary to connect this wide variety of frameworks and technology resonates strongly. This means each framework supports the other and that they don’t work in silos.

Therefore, it’s wholly appropriate that the service value chain activities in ITIL 4 aren’t time-bound and the end-to-end path is not necessarily linear. This helps support a DevOps approach while having changes governed by the change enablement practice ensure risks are properly assessed before any changes are authorized, in an appropriate time and agile manner.

The potential to achieve agility from cloud services is fantastic. However, there is still a need to manage costs through better financial management. Equally, people need the capability to change, to innovate, co-create value and maintain competitive advantage as the overall endgame.

Read Mark O'Loughlin's previous AXELOS Blog Post, ITIL 4 and cloud-based services.

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