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Author  Bob Roark – service management expert at

November 19, 2021 |

 4 min read

  • Blog
  • Service management
  • Agile
  • Cloud
  • ITIL

One of the most exciting technology activities occurring these days is companies moving their IT services to the cloud.

There are many reasons to do this, from flexible scalability and improved collaboration to lower overall costs.

Over the past year, I spent a lot of time working with several companies moving their data centers and applications to the cloud. One major surprise that I discovered was that companies and vendors might not always be on the same page about how cloud frameworks work and operate.

Excited to save time, money and resources, customers choose a vendor to host their cloud services and begin migration efforts only to find that the cloud environment does not exactly work the way their on-premises environment worked. Customers expect the same practices, structure, and overall maturity they have developed for their on-premises technology environments over many years.

So, what kind of things can go wrong?

Different languages, different meanings

First, each side has its own processes and a specific language associated with them. This means they might be using similar terminology but with different implications. For example, “change management” can mean substantially different things to customer and vendor.

When each party believes the other one has responsibility for, let’s say, change management it creates a gap between customer expectation and service reality. For example, an on-premises change might happen in a two-hour window – with processes so mature that any problem could be restored within a reasonable time. A transition to cloud services could mean a time frame of two to three days to enable change.

Meanwhile, cloud vendors have developed their practices, structure and maturity to ensure scalability across a much larger and unpredictable scope: their infrastructure might be worldwide with unlimited customers with all the unpredictability that brings.

Consequently, both companies and vendors may find the way they each work doesn’t match exactly.

Why has this been allowed to happen? The push for speed to market means that governance and controls have ended up in a relegated role.

How does ITIL help?

In what ways does ITIL 4 address the specific issue of companies transitioning to cloud computing?

Just because a company is introducing newer technologies doesn’t mean it can eliminate controls, standardization and the processes/ practices that have made the IT function successful in the past.

In addition, ITIL 4 recognizes and pulls together other approaches – namely Agile, Lean and DevOps – collaboratively. Instead of each approach operating in a silo, ITIL 4’s combined approach works towards total experience management.

DevOps, Lean and Agile do amazing stuff, but how do you run Agile and waterfall-based change simultaneously that benefits the entire organization? The consistency needed is where ITIL comes into play.

And, to be clear, the objective isn’t ITIL 4: it’s about creating collaboration between a host of different groups.

Therefore, when both cloud service providers and their client companies have adopted and adapted the ITIL framework, it all but guarantees everyone is on the same page, speaking the same language before transitioning on-premises environments or applications to the cloud. The ITIL framework scales regardless of where infrastructure or applications live (on-premises or in the cloud).

Without a universal framework, vendors may not meet customers’ expectations and frustrations increase on both sides. Using the same framework, however, regardless of the level of detail in its adoption or specific processes, ensures that cloud migrations happen fastest.

The need to fully retrain staff or, worse yet, rebuild applications and processes entirely to make them work efficiently in the cloud is also dramatically reduced.

Moving to the cloud can be a seamless and efficient process when both companies and vendors use ITIL as the baseline and the core that holds everything together – and aims for the ultimate outcome the organization wants.