Types of Cloud Services – As Defined by ITIL

The popularity of cloud computing during the past few years is undeniable. While numerous organizations have realized true benefits from utilizing services in the cloud, in many ways, what we know as cloud computing is not an entirely new paradigm.

The basic concept of cloud services is straightforward.  When a customer needs some specific functionality, that functionality can be received directly from the Internet. Billing for the service is base on utilization.

One of the key benefits of cloud services is that they establish an effective boundary, meaning that the value of the service is available when needed at a predictable price, all without having to worry about the technical details or underpinnings of the service.

ITIL has not ignored the recent trends in cloud computing. In the updated Service Strategy book released in 2011, ITIL devotes significant space to discussions about the cloud and discusses several types of cloud services.

Individual Services

The first type of cloud services is the individual services that are offered to consumers. These are common things that we all often use these days without even thinking that they are cloud-based services. My favorite example of one of these was one time I was riding in a cab in San Jose, CA with another ITIL instructor. A song was playing on the radio that we didn’t know. He pulled out his smart phone, started an app that “listened” to about five seconds of the song, and then quickly gave us the title of the song and the artist.


The second type of cloud service is known as “Software as a Service”, or SaaS. In this type of cloud service, the service provider delivers use of some specific software or suite of software to the customer. The customer only pays for the amount of the service that they consume without having to install the software in-house. An example of this is the many service management tool suites which are available on a subscription basis as SaaS offerings


The third type of cloud service is known as “Platform as a Service”, or PaaS. In a PaaS setup, a service provider offers a computing environment and some specific tools that enable the customer to construct their own services. This lets the customer focus on the functionality provided by their services and applications without having to worry about the underlying infrastructure or operating system. As an example of this, I once took an XSLT class that required that all of our homework be completed using a well-known elastic computing service. When we wanted to do homework, we would simply visit a website and provision a platform, which was rapidly available and pre-configured for class needs.


The fourth type of cloud service described by ITIL is known as “Infrastructure as a Service”, or IaaS. IaaS is similar to PaaS, however, the service provider is only offering infrastructure components without the tools normally offered as part of a PaaS solution. In IaaS services, the customer buy infrastructure components, such as raw processing power or storage, that they are then able to use to build applications and services of their own.

ITIL says more than this about cloud computing, and in future posts I will discuss other aspects of cloud computing and how it relates to ITIL. The key thing to keep in mind is that cloud computing and ITIL share much common ground. For example, the concept of a service, as defined by ITIL, is something that “…delivers value to customers by facilitating outcomes that customers want to achieve without the ownership of specific costs and risks”. This fundamentally describes exactly why cloud services are popular — they provide functionality without the customers having to worry about the underlying costs and risks associated with creating that functionality.

Related Posts
https://www.globalknowledge.com/blog/technology/virtualization-technology/cloud-computing/the-cloud-promises/” target=”_blank”>The Cloud: Promises
The Cloud: Realities
Seven Technology Predictions for 2012 and Beyond

Related Courses
ITIL Foundation
Cloud Essentials
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1 comment

  1. Erin Maccabe Reply

    Very timely as a lot have been using different Cloud services that are available just within reach. For me, SaaS has been the one that benefits me most, both budget- and service-wise.