Using ITSM Tools for Cloud Governance

Cloud Governance

The 2019 State of Cloud Report shows that the majority of cloud users are now focusing on more of the service management-related aspects of cloud. In particular, cost management and cloud governance are top concerns for enterprises. Plus, the AWS Cloud Adoption Framework’s Governance Perspective covers Portfolio, Programs, Performance and Licenses – all of which can be considered core to IT service management (ITSM).

ITSM practitioners, practices, and tools should thus be considered important guardrails to add to any cloud adoption project. And there are no excuses for an ungoverned cloud. This article explains the importance of ITSM guardrails for cloud governance and lists several key tools and practices to put those guardrails on the cloud.

This article by @ViewYonder explains the importance of #ITSM guardrails for #cloud governance and lists several key tools and practices to put those guardrails on the cloud. Share on X

Why everyone’s worried about cloud governance

The aforementioned 2019 State of Cloud Report is yet another reminder that cloud is more mainstream than ever. When cloud was young, people weren’t worried about cost and governance. Back then, security was a challenge not a strength and cloud adoption was a bottom-up technology-led project. Since then, organizations have often had cloud sticker shock (some real, some comical), suffered from security breaches, and struggled to adopt cloud. These are career and company-ending events.

The “adults” inside an enterprise worry about cloud running outside of their normal enterprise governance process. And it’s not unknown for them to only find out that the cloud is being used when some cloud-related crisis happens, and the post-mortem uncovers some unapproved spend and ungoverned practices.

Ultimately, for every enterprise cloud journey there comes the day when their use of cloud has to grow up, and this means integrating cloud governance with the ITSM people, practices, and tools.

Ultimately, for every enterprise #cloud journey there comes the day when their use of cloud has to grow up, and this means integrating with the #ITSM people, practices, & tools, says @ViewYonder Share on X

How cloud integrates with ITSM governance

AWS is the leader in the cloud market by both size and maturity. It shares the most practices and experience with its customers and it coined the phrase “there is no compression algorithm for experience.” One example of this shared best practice is its Cloud Adoption Framework. Made of six perspectives, it should be familiar to anyone who is familiar with ITIL or one of the many industry maturity models. It helps with cloud governance.

The relevant perspective here, in helping cloud “grow up,” is the Governance perspective which encapsulates the following four capabilities:

  1. Portfolio Management – which provides a mechanism to manage IT based on desired business outcomes. It can help to determine cloud-eligibility for workloads when prioritizing which services to move to the cloud.
  2. Program and Project Management – which helps you to manage technology projects using methodologies that take advantage of the agility and cost management benefits inherent to cloud services.
  3. Business Performance Measurement – which helps you measure the impact of the cloud on business objectives.
  4. License Management – which defines methods to procure, distribute, and manage the licenses needed for IT systems, services, and software.

These are four points that need working on to better connect an enterprise’s cloud people, practices, and tools to the enterprise’s ITSM governance practices that are part of best practice approaches such as ITIL. This way, the cloud and cloud governance grows up and the adults are happy (or at least happier).

Here @ViewYonder outlines 4 points that need working on to better connect an enterprise’s #cloud people, practices, and tools to the enterprise’s #ITSM governance practices. Share on X

How ITSM tools help govern the cloud

For each of the four parts of the cloud governance perspective, there are potentially already suitable tools in the ITSM kitbag.

The first, Portfolio Management, is crucial. This gives your cloud guardrails. There are many services in a cloud, but these can be simplified by using automation and catalogs to present a simplified non-cloud view to the ITSM tools. Imagine that there’s a complete automated environment build in the cloud using AWS CloudFormation. You wouldn’t want to expose this detail to the non-cloud users that need the environment. What you do is wrap this in an AWS Service Catalog item. Now it’s one-click deployment. Then you tell your ITSM tool, which knows all about the enterprise processes and approvals, to offer this to users – so they don’t even have to logon to AWS. This is one way you can limit, control, and govern cloud using ITSM tools.

Program and Project Management changes with cloud, primarily because of the faster ways of doing things. Services running on the cloud are highly automated and quick-to-deploy, plus easy to stop or delete, which all increase speed and experimentation. Therefore, the tools that might have been manually used before, like spreadsheets, are increasingly replaced by ITSM tools that integrate directly with cloud APIs – missing out the manual management. This should be fundamental for cloud governance.

Business Performance Management from the perspective of an ITSM tool can be enriched by the huge amount of data available from the cloud APIs. Even though the leading clouds come with their own (sometimes basic) operational dashboards, most enterprises will benefit from integrating their ITSM tool dashboard with the cloud.

License Management is changed in the cloud. Sometimes you rent licenses (e.g. AWS’s Oracle Relational Database Service and Marketplace services) and sometimes you Bring Your Own License (BYOL). You also have different licenses such as perpetual or subscription. AWS even has a new Marketplace contracting process and ITSM tools can “plug into” the cloud to extract all of this information into the same License Management portal as for traditional software licenses.

There’s no longer any legitimate excuse not to use your #ITSM tool as guardrails for your #cloud governance and even AWS is pointing organizations toward the need, says @ViewYonder. Share on X

Ultimately, there are no excuses for an ungoverned cloud

The cloud is now mainstream and is maturing to be more ITSM-friendly. ITSM practices have evolved to accommodate cloud and Agile/DevOps (see the latest ITIL 4 version) and ITSM tooling can plug into cloud services to extend its umbrella governance into the cloud.

There’s no longer any legitimate excuse not to use your ITSM tool as guardrails for your cloud governance and even AWS is pointing organizations toward the need. If you are struggling to get started, then I suggest that you use the AWS Cloud Adoption Framework as an initial guide.

Is your organization successfully using its ITSM tool for cloud governance? If so, please let me know how in the comments.

Are you looking for an article on organizational change management or enterprise service management?

Steve Chambers Photo
Steve Chambers
Director at ViewYonder

Steve Chambers generates real-time analysis on the topics of Cloud, DevOps, and ITSM. Steve helps organizations that range from global to local, commercial to public sector, and startup to enterprise. With these organizations, Steve operates at the conjunction of cloud service providers and organizations that consume their services, and analyzes and advises on the impact on their people, process, and technology.

Steve's career spans more than twenty years including banking, consulting engineer with Loudcloud, professional services and presales management at VMware, Cisco and VCE and executive CTO office at Atos Cloud,and numerous roles with startups in the cloud software business.

In addition to his day job, Steve is also an Associate Consultant at

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