Is ITOM Still Relevant for Multi-cloud Environments?

IT Operations management (ITOM) – a framework that gives IT teams the tools to centrally monitor and manage applications and infrastructure across multi-premise environments – has been the foundation of enterprise IT infrastructure and applications for the last 30 years. It has been the backbone that ensures technology stacks are operating optimally to provide timely business value and keep employees engaged and productive by maintaining the availability of core applications. But the recent acceleration of digital transformation across global industries and emergence of multi-cloud environments has introduced a new level of complexity.

While flexibility, elasticity, and ease of use are benefits that make starting with the cloud an enticing prospect, ongoing operation and management can quickly become difficult to oversee. As the business scales across infrastructure and applications deployments in a multi-cloud environment, so does the complexity inherent in diverse cloud operating models and tools, and distributed application architecture and deployment. Many IT professionals also lack technical or management skills in these areas.

According to a recent VMware survey of tech executives and their priorities for digital momentum, 73% reported a push to standardize multi-cloud architectures. The digital transformation and transition to multi-cloud environments to bring the best technology stacks that unlock business value will be a journey for most global enterprises in the coming years. The key is how to empower cloud-focused or cloud-native technology teams to realize the full potential of their transformational investments in multi-cloud environments.

This prompts a key question: is ITOM still valid when it comes to managing enterprise technology stacks that are increasingly categorized as multi-cloud environments?

IT operators for years had their favorite tools to manage infrastructure, applications, databases, networks, and more to support the needs of their business. But with the growing workload migration to multi-cloud environments, IT pros are now scrambling between siloed operations tools and cloud-specific tools provided by the key hyperscalers – AWS, Azure, or Google – for specific use cases. This tool sprawl is often exacerbated by the enterprises’ desire to pick the best cloud platform based on the problem that needs to be resolved. For a .NET based application migration to the cloud, for example, Azure might be the better choice, while an AI/ML large data lake analysis could be best suited to run on Google Cloud.

This is where ITOM is evolving to bring a holistic and comprehensive view across multiple disciplines of multi-cloud infrastructure and applications, integrating best practices from cost, operations, and automation management principles along with connected data. ITOM has been leveraged for decades in enterprise on-premises environments to bring disparate, federated, and integrated tools together to operate in a secure way. The key to success in accelerating digital transformation in multi-cloud consumption era is to have complete visibility of the environment, automation of mundane tasks, and proactive operations that utilize connected data from multiple domains in near real-time to drive preventive and proactive insights. This is possible to achieve with an integrated platform that brings different domains of operations, costs, and automation on a single integrated data platform.

There are different ITOM incumbents trying to “cloudify” their current solutions by tucking AIOps into the mix and integrating with application performance management (APM) offerings. On the other hand, there are also new market disrupters joining the race to provide a single integrated solution for the enterprises that unify multiple domains and data together to provide visibility, operations, cost, optimization, and automation across multi-cloud environments. All these scenarios suggest ITOM will solidify itself as even more relevant in cloud and modern IT operations management now and in the future – but to maximize its value, IT teams must move from cloud chaos to cloud smart management.

There are three primary characteristics of a cloud-smart IT operations management solution enterprises should look for:

Platform and API-based Solutions: Look for solutions that bring a set of common and integrated services together to monitor, observe, manage, optimize, and automate across infrastructure and apps. By using solutions that take a platform and API-first approach, IT teams are empowered to technology-proof their investments from a state of continuous invention and reinvention of the enterprise’s technology stacks and solutions. These types of offerings also help teams to connect the old legacy technology with more modern solutions as they progress along their digital transformation journeys while maintaining and growing their business.Integrated Data-driven Operations: A good ITOM solution should provide data-driven intelligence across multiple data domains to inform proactive decisions that leverage AIOps 2.0 principles. – AIOps must take a data-driven automation-first and self-service approach to truly provide value that frees resources to drive value-based development and delivery instead of chasing reactive problems. Global digital businesses are operating in multi-cloud environments, at the edge, and everywhere in between alongside the people, processes, and things that provide contextual customer experience. CloudOps will further provide rich diverse data to turn contextual connected data into business insights. It can’t manage an old school events-based command center but instead provides context across distributed and connected layers of technology by processing diverse volumes and variety of data that can be observed through business KPIs to drive actions to resolution. This will enable the modern digital businesses to constantly optimize the network and make informed decisions eliminating mundane manual tasks to improve productivity and innovation.Continuous Consumptions, Agility, and Control: We are moving from a static on-premises environment to dynamic cloud environments in the digital business, leveraging ephemeral workflows. This is where the right tools will drive automation of repetitive mundane tasks, enable governance and controls on cost, usage, and policy for the ever-changing business needs that demand elastic resources, data driven process accommodation, dynamic configurations, and consumption pricing.

The world of multi-cloud, edge, and on-premises are here to stay to drive the digital transformation journey of the enterprise. However, the pendulum of workloads moving between those discrete environments will continue to shift as business, compliance, and governance requirements change. ITOM and ITOps approaches are more relevant than ever in the world of multi-cloud hybrid environments with distributed ephemeral workloads (as they once were on on-premises environments). Still, it’s imperative that these operations management frameworks evolve with changing needs of business to ensure they’re able to simplify complex distributed technology stacks and cumbersome manual processes.

The goal is to drive contextual observable insights that lead to optimized usage and consumptions-based cultures by connecting different functions of business users, technology developers, and operators while enhancing complete end-to-end visibility of technology architectures. Only then can an organization benefit from modern ITOM that enables continuous change, compliance, and optimization to support a vibrant global business and its customers.

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Cloud Computing, IT Leadership