CERN and John Lewis benefit from service management in cloud

ServiceNow has built a reputation for cloud based service management with several high profile clients

At its recent Knowledge 11 European user group conference in Frankfurt, SaaS ITSM provider ServiceNow – which claims to have 95 percent of the SaaS ITSM market and expects revenue of around $135m for 2011 – revealed it was in the process of laying the foundations to extend beyond SaaS with its generation two cloud architecture and pure co-location.

To achieve this, ServiceNow has separated databases from application instances, allowing each layer to scale independently to significantly reduce resource contention, while adding very robust F5 load balancers at the front end. It also has high availability n+n architecture to provide near real-time replication linked to a fail-away data centre in a nearby geography. The company intends to have all customers in generation two data centres by the end of 2012.

As a signal of the seriousness of its cloud infrastructure efforts, ServiceNow has recruited former general manager of Microsoft’s Windows Azure Infrastructure, Arne Josefsberg, as CTO. As CEO Frank Slootman puts it: "I set out to find the best person money could buy in cloud infrastructure.”

One of ServiceNow’s most high profile customers is probably CERN, the world’s largest particle physics centre and home of the Large Hadron Collider (as well as the place where Tim Berners-Lee invented the worldwide web). The facility has 2300 staff consisting of engineers, physicists, technicians, administrators, computer scientists, craftspeople, mechanics and support personnel, as well as more than 10,000 visiting scientists (around half of the world’s particle physicists) of over 100 nationalities. It is spread over two sites with 657 buildings, 238 barracks, 495 hotel rooms, three restaurants, 15000 active access cards, more than 1000 cars, 5500 PCs, 1500 Macs, 6900 servers with 41000 cores, 14PB of disk space and 48PB tape storage.

Back in 2009, the IT department was starting work on moving to a new version of BMC’s Remedy ITSM solution. Around the same time, the general services department was examining ways to improve its service delivery. In January 2010, the two departments decided it would make sense to join forces and work together to introduce service management best practice into their domains. One of the more intriguing aspects of CERN’s approach was that to avoid using two different best practice standards for IT and non IT services, it decided to apply ITIL for non IT services. According to Reinoud Martens, the way to achieve this was to remove all references to IT, be pragmatic by only taking what was useful and to avoid over-engineering.

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