Infrastructure Management 'In the Cloud:' Why Now May Be the Time at Your Business

Updated: February 18, 2010

In late 2009, the Focus Community was asked, "Is(n't) it Time for Hosted IT Service Management?" The tone of user response ranged from guardedly optimistic to openly critical.

"No. It is not time for the hosted IT service management," Focus Expert Benjamin Breeland asserted. "Instead, it is time for those providing services to provide some level of dashboard or performance metrics for those services. [I]f the business has no method of measuring its current services or has no baseline for the performance of existing services, how does the business know if the vendor providing service management performs the requested job?"

"The question of whether a hosted solution is right for your IT organization is really dependent upon your needs and goals (and in some cases your [specific] vertical [market])," Focus contributor Christina Pappas said. "[T]the cost benefits are now being recognized due to the removal [of] in-house infrastructure, no-cost non-disruptive upgrades and zero maintenance and support costs."

Ms. Pappas added that different vendors are following different paths toward IT management as a service, citing Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Service-now.com as contrasting examples. "HP is delivering [its hosted IT management] solutions as an ASP [application service provider] whereas Service-now.com is a [true] SaaS [offering]. While HP customers may face upgrades in the future and the threat of the application sunsetting…IT organizations [that] have adopted true SaaS-delivered applications will continue to reap the benefits, not have to worry about unforeseen upgrades or their application 'going away' and not having support."

Several vendors have made recent moves to address the shortcomings and concerns raised by Focus community members. In November 2009, BMC Software, long a leader in premise-based IT infrastructure management solutions, announced an alliance with SaaS and cloud computing pioneer Salesforce.com. The companies plan to co-market and co-sell BMC's Service Desk Express solution running on Salesforce.com's Force.com cloud-based platform beginning in the second quarter of 2010. Focus believes that this alliance is likely to produce some interesting and useful offerings. However, Focus also believes that BMC and other vendors of premise-based management solutions will be significantly challenged to sustain and grow sales of those solutions while making credible forays "into the cloud."

Service-Now.com, an early provider of IT management as a service, has offered built-in reporting, workflow with escalations and graphical mapping for some time now. The recent Winter 2010 release of the IT service management (ITSM) SaaS solution includes interactive dashboards that collate and present performance information about multiple infrastructure elements.

More recently, Viewfinity, a provider of cloud-based tools for IT systems and privileges management solutions, announced . The company avoids the infrastructure and cost challenges of traditional IT management solutions (and their vendors) by building its solutions specifically for cloud/SaaS deployment, president Gil Rapaport told Focus in a pre-announcement briefing. Viewfinity uses virtualization to deliver effective management of underlying infrastructure elements without disrupting or forcing any change in the user experience, Rapaport added. Focus believes that this approach is critical to encouraging broad user adoption of any IT management solutions, whether premise- or cloud-based.

Viewfinity Systems Management includes centralized software deployment, asset inventory, remote desktop and power management, activity recording and the ability to rollback/undo user "personality" components. Trials of this solution are free for up to 50 PCs, with pricing beginning at $48 per desktop per year otherwise.

Viewfinity Privilege Management uses granular, policy-based regulation of system administrator rights to deliver flexible blocking ("blacklisting") and permitting ("whitelisting"), privilege elevation and automated policy management and auditing. This solution is priced beginning at $28 per desktop per year.

Viewfinity User Migration is designed to centralize, ease and speed migration of PC client systems to Microsoft Windows 7. This solution is free thru Q1 2010, Viewfinity said.

Additionally, the company recently closed $9 billion in series B funding, and announced a new Advisory Board. Among the members of that body is Greg Butterfield, former CEO of Altiris, another pioneer in systems management now owned by Symantec.

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