What is IT operations management (ITOM)?

IT operations management (ITOM) is the management and strategic approach to planning, building, and operating digital services, technology, components, and application requirements in organizations.

ITOM describes the individual processes and services that are administered by an IT department—this includes administrative processes, support for hardware and software, and services for internal and external clients. Effective ITOM ensures availability, performance, and efficiency within an organization’s services and processes.

ITOM defines the methods IT uses to manage services, support, and deployment to create consistency, quality of service, and reliability. There are typically management departments within an IT team that create policy on how services and support are managed and resolved, incorporating policies and procedures that revolve around how organizations intend to meet the client’s and the organization’s needs and SLAs.

ITOM is responsible for all services and applications, infrastructure, and ensuring that all are stable and available for use.

Network infrastructure management

Includes the equipment that is needed to provide external and internal communications for an organization—this includes setting up remote access networks, regulating communication with external servers via firewalls, maintaining network security, and managing an internal telephone system.

Help desk

ITOM encompasses services and service issues that come from machines, such as servers, networking, and VMs. IT operations managers are responsible for managing communicating information about incidents, managing data back-ups, implementing disaster recovery plans, and controlling the provision of user profiles.

Server and device management

IT operations teams administer servers, virtual machines, devices, and other endpoints, while playing a key role in the daily management of servers which host company applications. Server-related responsibilities may include patching, upgrading, and maintaining. ITOM teams are also responsible for IT assets like desktops, tablets, mobile devices, phones, and laptops.

Effective ITOM provides a range of benefits for organizations. This includes predicting issues, minimizing user impact, automating resolutions, modern DevOps, and data connection.

Predict issues

ITOM systems help collect and interpret data across the IT estate. Data gathered includes data from cloud, IT infrastructure, logs, metrics, events, and container-based resources. AIOps, in conjunction with machine learning, helps to reduce noise, identify anomalies, and avoid time spent on false positives.
Graphic outlining the various benefits of IT operations management.

Minimize user impact

ITOM makes it possible to prevent certain issues before they occur, at which point ITOM helps you minimize the impact to end users before they ever experience a problem.

ITOM allows you to identify root causes more quickly and with improved accuracy, by correlating changes and incidents. You can leverage insights to collaborate across teams while also triggering actions based on guided recommendations to eliminate outages, service degradations and further empower staff members.

Automate workflows across teams

ITOM provides the opportunity to automate cross-team workflows to eliminate unnecessary manual processes and handoffs, empowering your staff with powerful, actionable insights that can be easily shared between teams. A learned-knowledge base shortens recovery times, which simplifies repetitive tasks when you have pre-built playbooks and low code/no code workflows.

Deliver DevOps

ITOM works in partnership with centralized and decentralized teams, and gives DevOps and SRE teams more visibility into microservices which improves observability and increases incident response.

Connect your data

ITOM goes beyond simple IT operations to manage the entire digital life cycle, while also extending your CMDB to create a stronger data foundation.

While both are strategies for IT management, IT service management (ITSM) and ITOM are two different concepts.

ITSM includes activities an organization does to manage IT services through the entirety of the life cycle, including strategic planning, service operation, service desk, continual service improvement, and design building. ITSM also encompasses the help-desk and fulfillment of IT requests that come from employees. Best practices of ITSM are known as the ITIL framework, which describes the life cycle of service in detail.

ITOM is covered under the ITIL framework. ITOM teams are meant to focus on daily tasks for the operation of an organization’s infrastructure components and applications— all aspects of the “service operation” stage defined in the ITSM lifecycle.

Businesses of different sizes are continuously adopting new technologies, including cloud-based computing services (SaaS, PaaS, IaaS, etc.), virtual services, and IoT. Organizations must change their operations to adapt operations management and processes for services in a constantly evolving environment. ITOM must overcome challenges as organizations expand their infrastructure to fulfill performance, cost-control, and security needs.

Limited visibility

ITOM teams require high-level visibility into the IT architecture of their organization to effectively manage resources and security. It is possible for businesses using legacy systems to find that their systems have limited visibility for ITOM teams. This limits the proper controls and oversight that IT Operations teams need to deliver on objectives and oversight needs.

Disparate technology and systems

Certain organizations may have applications deployed on-premise, some applications provided through SaaS, and applications hosted by IaaS providers. In the event that these applications cannot communicate, they must be watched separately, which incurs a greater cost, greater security risks and burden on available resources.

Difficulty scaling operations

IT operations can be ill-prepared to scale operations when a new service is introduced and needs to be maintained. When there isn’t a system for integrating data from the IT environment, adding new services might create a more fractured infrastructure, poor oversight, and increased vulnerability.

Excessive noise

Having so many concurrent events, IT operations may have a difficult time correlating these events effectively. Complex event correlation due to excess noise can hinder ITOM effectiveness.

Difficult-to-identify anomalies

Not all issues are readily identifiable. When faced with unknown and unrecognizable anomalies, users will often attempt to build queries designed to identify certain characteristics, but the effectiveness of these queries is dependent upon knowing what you should be looking for.

ServiceNow helps your organization make proactive operations a reality by predicting issues before they impact users or the business, preventing issues, automating workflows, and transforming how your IT teams collaborate. Providing actionable insights across your IT estate, ServiceNow ITOM solutions allow you to leverage pre-built capabilities to speed time to value, and deliver the data platform for digital services across all of IT and keep your digital services running 24/7.

Capabilities that scale with your business

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