Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is more than just a cloud-based delivery model. It is a service approach that IT organisations are considering for meeting their IT service management needs. Paul Avenant, BMC Software, considers the implications for moving to a SaaS delivery model for IT service management.

With a SaaS model, IT organisations can focus their staff and infrastructure on high-priority activities and initiatives while still enjoying access to IT service management productivity solutions. They can achieve these benefits without having to invest their own resources in the systems or in the management and upgrading of the applications.

The SaaS model is attractive because it can offer many of the same benefits of traditional IT service management solutions, in addition to other advantages, such as reducing capital expenses, accelerating the time to have IT service management applications up and running, and providing easier upgrades.

Typical SaaS models allow a service to be hosted, delivered, and managed remotely via the web and offer the sharing of application processing and storage resources through a subscription service.

But before you transition to a SaaS model, it’s important to understand how that approach will support your requirements, what trade-offs you may need to make, and whether it offers you the flexibility to move to and from other service delivery approaches at various points in time.

How to decide: in-house IT service management or SaaS?

How do you decide whether to implement IT service management in-house or subscribe to it as a service?

The answer depends on the type, level and cost of the IT skills within your organisation; the budget for capital versus operational expenses; the likelihood of growth in your IT infrastructure; and the level of customisation and integration that your workflows and processes require in other elements of your IT infrastructure and management solutions.

IT organisations that should consider subscribing to IT service management via a SaaS model have many of the following needs:

  • They lack the time, budget, or staff to implement configuration management database (CMDB) platforms or integrate multiple discovery and event management systems into their own IT service management solutions.
  • They need to reduce or avoid capital expenses for purchasing additional hardware and software.
  • They require SAS 70 or ISO 27002 data security, but lack the staff or skills to implement it in-house.
  • They have variable requirements for IT service management capabilities or face unpredictable growth in their IT service management needs.

Putting it all together

SaaS is a viable choice for IT service management, as both a delivery and a business-model option. If it fits your organisation’s needs in terms of your goals, then the SaaS delivery model should be pursued. That’s why it’s so important to stay focused on the problems you are trying to solve before selecting the right software delivery model for your organisation.

What if you don’t have the skill set to achieve your objectives in-house, but your requirements dictate that you maintain an on-premises solution? You may want to consider a managed service offering that lets someone else manage the system on premises for you - often on your servers - without requiring your staff resources to maintain the solution.

In addition, be sure not to focus exclusively on the cost savings or ROI associated with the hardware, the software and the associated administration costs. These are important, but you can achieve significantly greater business value by also selecting a solution that has proven capabilities for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of your service desk staff and the core processes.

Possible solutions

The solutions delivered via SaaS should be able to provide integrated asset and change management, as well as a service desk and incident and problem management. They should also provide self-service, include asset configuration management for inventory tracking, and integrate with a configuration management data base (CMDB).

With SaaS delivery for IT service management, IT can benefit from having a single, central, shared data model and a unified service view across all functions and processes through the CMDB - in addition to leveraging a unique, unified architecture with no point-to-point interfaces to maintain.

Just as IT service management helps make the enterprise more efficient and responsive, the methods by which the solutions are deployed and maintained can have a major impact on your company’s profitability and IT performance. IT organisations that lack the in-house staff or scale to cost-effectively support the IT service management infrastructure should consider the benefits of a SaaS delivery model.

SaaS can be a great option that allows your IT organisation to get up and running faster, particularly if you do not have the necessary skill set in-house. This can also provide a way to help you focus on the core problems you want to solve. Consider selecting a vendor that has best practices already baked into the solutions from the beginning, which can provide a standardised IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL®)-based configuration to get you started.

However, avoid a SaaS offering where you need to heavily customise the solution to get fairly basic capabilities to meet your needs. Your business needs will change over time, so it is particularly important to look for a vendor that provides you with the opportunity to move easily, cost-effectively and rapidly from one service delivery model to another.