Probst, who is principal consultant at ITSM consulting firm Pink Elephant in addition to his itSFM USA role, attributed some of the movement to price. "One of the challenges for the ITSM tools has always been the cost."
Probst says IT automation tools originated in the 1990s with the arrival of help desk, call center and, later, service desk software. Over time, additional processes were added to the mix, particularly with the growing prevalence of the IT Infrastructure Library ( ITIL) and its set of IT service management practices. Software modules began to surface for service catalog, change management, configuration management, incident management and problem management, among other functions.
Individual point tools eventually evolved into suites. As the functionality grew, so did the cost, Probst says. SaaS, however, broke the existing price point model, with ServiceNow at the vanguard, he notes, adding that SaaS ITSM can be deployed at half to three-quarters of the cost of an on-site product, depending on the customer.
Other economic drivers also come into play. Jenny Geisler, treasurer at itSFM USA and principal consultant at Aeritae Consulting Group, says most IT shops are getting hit with depreciation on their capital outlays. "As their expense budgets are chewed up by depreciation expenses, they need to find a different model."
The ongoing cost of maintaining on-premises IT service management may also influence SaaS migration. Shari Brunette, president of itSFM USA and senior consultant at Aeritae, says upgrading to a new release of on-premises ITSM can take a large enterprise 12 to 18 months and cost up to $2 million. SaaS solutions, Brunette adds, let organizations keep more of their IT personnel focused on the business and less on software management.
Adds Doron Gordon: "Not owning and operating your own environment...is important."
Gordon, executive officer of SAManage, a SaaS-based service desk and asset management vendor, says outsourcing not only saves money, it also puts customers in a position to receive more frequent-and useful-software updates.
Recalling his experience at an on-premises tool provider, Gordon says development cycles use to take two to three years. "The outcome of that is you're shipping what you started building years ago, and it's no longer relevant to what the customer needs."
Cloud Offers ITSM Functionality Without Restriction
Cost isn't the only SaaS driver, however. The flexibility of the cloud model also attracts IT buyers.