IT as a service

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IT as a service (ITaaS) is an operational model where the IT organization of an enterprise is run much like business, acting and operating as a distinct business entity creating Products[1] (including services) for the other Line of Business (LOB) organizations within the enterprise. At its core, ITaaS is a competitive business model where an enterprise IT organization views the LOBs as having many options for IT services and the IT organization has to compete against those other options in order to be the provider to the needs of the LOBs. Options for providers other than the internal IT organization may include outsourcing companies and public cloud providers.

Under an ITaaS model, the internal IT organization of an enterprise will have a business-centric focus. It will place great emphasis on the needs and the outcomes required by the LOBs. The benefits to the enterprise sought by using the ITaaS model include the standardization and simplification of products delivered by IT, improved financial transparency and more direct association of costs to consumption, and increased IT operational efficiency resulting from the need to compare the price of internally produced products to those available from external providers. The transformation of an internal IT organization from operating as a cost-center to an ITaaS model is also believed to produce improved levels of business agility for the enterprise as a whole.

ITaaS is not a cloud service model[edit]

According to The NIST Definition of Cloud Computing,[2] there are three service models associated with cloud computing: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS). The concept of ITaaS as an operating model is not limited to or dependent on cloud computing. Several proponents of ITaaS as an operating model will insist that the ability for an IT organization to deliver ITaaS is enabled by underlying technology models such as IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS. Vendors who are proponents of the concept of ITaaS as an operating model include EMC,[3] Citrix,[4] and VMware.[5]

ITaaS is not a technology shift - such as a move to increase the use of virtualization. Rather, it is an operational and organizational shift to running IT like a business and optimizing IT production for business consumption. IT organizations that adopt ITaaS are most likely to use the best practices for IT service management as defined in the Information Technology Infrastructure Library. Characteristics of IT organizations adopting ITaaS models would include:

  • They apply the principles of Value Creation, managing Service Assets, and applying Service Structures within the context of their Service Strategy.
  • Financial Management, Return on Investment, and Demand Management are all critical aspects of their Service Portfolio Management process.
  • They utilize a Service Lifecycle to design, transition, operate, and continually improve their products from initial idea inception throughout the lifecycle until final product retirement as part of an overall Portfolio of offerings to their market segments and customers (the enterprise LOBs).

Transformation to IT as a Service[edit]

Several vendors who are proponents of ITaaS describe the transition of an IT organization to the ITaaS model as a journey which includes the adoption of such models as:

  • New technology models founded on the use of private, public, and hybrid clouds; employing controls, trust and compliance up and down the stack; introducing infrastructure standardization and automation wherever possible.
  • New consumption models leveraging self-service catalogs offering both internal and external services; providing IT financial transparency for costs and pricing; offering consumerized IT – such as bring your own device (BYoD) – to meet the needs of users. All of which simplify and encourage consumption of services.
  • New operational models which imply a revised organization, with new business and technical skills and roles; creation of more horizontal, service-oriented processes; explicit IT alignment with lines-of-business.
  • Business driven IT solution is represented as a repeatable business activity having a specified outcome, wherein service acts as a self-contained logical unit, may be composed of other services (choreography), and is generally a "black box" to its consumers.