SaaS: HP Pitches Service Desk in the Cloud
Hewlett-Packard hopes that midsize firms will go the virtualization route with their service desk. That is the implied context of HP's new software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering, HP Service Anywhere.
Virtualized and cloud solutions, along with anything-as-a-service, are in the broadest sense about renting capacity and capabilities rather than buying them outright. As such they have the usual advantage of renting: lower up-front cost and less ongoing commitment. This is an advantage especially for rapid expansions or operations with wide swings in service demand.
For midsize firms, virtualization and the cloud have a further potential advantage: reduced demands on limited management resources, at the price of less fine-grained control.
As Patrick Thibodeau observes at Computerworld, SaaS offerings have become a must-have for vendors who don't want to lose market share. Cloud-centric firms such as Salesforce.com in CRM and Workday in HR have put old-line rivals on notice that virtualization and the cloud are not options they can afford to ignore--not if they want to retain market share.
Hewlett-Packard has evidently heard this message and hopes to apply it to the service desk with HP Service Anywhere. The company has long offered service management technology, ranging from on-site to cloud-based. But it is hoping that midsize firms will see HP Service Anywhere as a lower-cost service management solution that includes integrated social media collaboration tools.
Paul Muller of HP software marketing says that HP Service Anywhere has been designed for "codeless configuration." In other words, you don't need to call on your limited supply of hard-core geeks to set the thing up. And the price is meant to be appealing, starting at $89 per month for named, dedicated users, or $178 for a floating license for multiple users. Competitors in this entry-level service desk virtualization space include BMC Software and ServiceNow.
All About Flexibility
HP already has an enterprise-level service desk solution, HP Service Manager. Service Anywhere is not meant to replace it, but analyst Dennis Drogseth characterizes Service Anywhere as "more of a next generation approach."
On-site solutions continue to have advantages when it comes to full control of the toolkit. The implicit flip side of "codeless configuration" is that the available configuration options are relatively simple and limited. If you want total configuration control, you need to be able to dig into the code.
But in the current business environment, midsize firms and their IT managers are willing to sacrifice some control in return for flexibility. Even if demands on the service desk are expected to be ongoing and predictable, how much do you really need to tweak it?
That is why virtualization and cloud solutions can be especially good news for midsize firms.
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. Follow Rick Robinson on Google+.