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IT Operations Management (ITOM)

ITOM: What It Is, Why It Matters, and How to Get It Right

What Is ITOM?

Historically, most IT discussions centered on functions such as IT asset management (ITAM) and IT service management (ITSM). But these and other core IT functions are both driven by and are critical elements of a larger topic: IT operations management, or ITOM.

In recent years, ITOM has gained prominence as an area of strategic focus for IT management leaders and their teams, and for some IT management solution vendors as well. Now is, therefore, a good time to take a detailed look at ITOM and how your team and your business might approach it successfully.

The Gartner IT Glossary says ITOM includes “all the tools needed to manage the provisioning, capacity, performance, and availability of the computing, networking and application environment.” Gartner divides ITOM into 10 major functional and market segments. These are listed alphabetically below.

  1. Application management

  2. Availability and performance

  3. Configuration management

  4. Database management systems (DBMSs)

  5. Event, fault and log management

  6. IT asset management (ITAM)

  7. IT service/help desk

  8. Job scheduling

  9. Network management

  10. Output management, including management of printers and other hardware peripherals

This list of things to do is broad, and touches and overlaps with multiple other areas of IT management. That breadth of purview underscores the criticality of ITOM to the effective management of the IT estate of any business. In essence, IT operations management involves activities responsible for the smooth functioning of all IT services that support the business. It manages different aspects like network, storage, servers, and security of your business environment.

ITOM: Early Origins

Operations management basically got its start the same year the U.S. declared its independence. In 1776, philosopher and economist Adam Smith wrote “The Wealth of Nations.” In that work, Smith argued that a team of workers, each assigned a specific task, could build products more efficiently than having each worker build a single product from start to finish. This argument led Henry Ford to create what we now call assembly lines. It was also the foundation of what would become operations management.

With the Industrial Revolution and the rise of mechanization, Ford and others began collecting and analyzing data about production processes, and using that data to improve those processes. Then, as computers started becoming business tools, data collection and analysis became more automated and sophisticated. Inventory management systems began to add more data to the operations management mix.

Throughout most of its history, operations management focused on manufacturing and related areas, such as inventory and distribution. With the rise of the service industry, operations managers began to apply their knowledge and experience to improve the development and delivery of services. And as IT systems grew in popularity and business value, IT service management (ITSM) became a distinct discipline and another area of focus for operations managers.

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