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ITIL 4 Acquiring & Managing Cloud Services: everything you need to know

Kevin Jones
Written by Kevin Jones

While there is a wealth of high-quality resources on the technical side of managing cloud services, there is precious little available for leaders on how to procure, implement, and evaluate cloud services and technologies. Rarer still are resources vendor agnostic and unbiased toward a specific product or service.  To fill this gap in the market, an ITIL 4 book, course, and exam entitled, “ITIL Specialist: Acquiring and Managing Cloud Services” (AMCS) was created to help those who regularly make decisions on cloud services and craft cloud strategies.  This article provides:

  • A brief history on the cloud and its implications
  • Discussion around how cloud strategy should support the broader business strategy
  • Answers to frequently asked questions on the AMCS book and its relation to IT Service Management
  • A summary of key topics and specifics on the AMCS course and exam

A brief history on the cloud and its implications

Believe it or not, the cloud has been around for nearly 20 years. It’s been pivotal for the last ten – a crucial element to doing business. As with most innovations, it started small, almost as an afterthought. But what began as an alternate way of doing some computing basics matured into an alternative to on-premise hardware and software, even data centers. The real magic of cloud services is how they offer users unprecedented power and flexibility, and affordability to consumers – capabilities that were unimaginable just a few years ago. To stay relevant, let alone get ahead, business and IT leaders must craft their own tactics and strategies to leverage this wealth of possibilities the offered by the cloud to achieve their own goals and objectives.

The cloud’s impact on all of us is so ubiquitous as to be virtually invisible. Just as it is hard to remember what life was like before smart phones, Whatever You Can Imagine as a Service (WYCIaaS) is here only because the cloud makes it so. It is time to think strategically about the cloud and cloud services. From the most recent Annual State of the Cloud, here are some interesting statistics:

  • 92% of enterprises have a multi-cloud strategy; 80% have a hybrid cloud strategy
  • Respondents use an average of 2.6 public and 2.7 private clouds
  • 31% of enterprises spend more than $12 million a year on public cloud
  • 90% of respondents expect cloud use to exceed plans due to the pandemic
  • 61% plan to optimize cloud costs in 2021, making it a top initiative for the 5th year in a row

Patchwork cloud versus a true cloud strategy

Doubtless your organization is already using cloud services, but the important question to ask is how much planning went into those decisions? Were they coherent enough to be called a cloud strategy, let alone a business strategy? Patchwork decision-making makes for unstable platforms; it is critical to think about this technology from a business- and technology-strategy point of view. Again, there is a great deal of content, from vendors and consultants alike, on the how of cloud services. What remains missing is guidance on the why. This is the missing content AMCS intends to fulfill.

ITIL 4 Cloud - Digital Cloud Strategy

Figure 1: A modern view of the relationship between business, digital, and IT strategies

Why should you care about acquiring and managing cloud services?

There are a lot of mistakes even seasoned entrepreneurs and C-Level leaders can make when approaching the cloud, such as transferring existing services into the cloud, updating existing cloud strategies, or creating new cloud-native enterprises. Since all organizations use and manage the cloud differently, useful guidance cannot be one-size-fits-all; it must be flexible to be relevant. Therefore, concentrating on selecting the right vendors as well as overseeing and monitoring their performance is so important. Defining your business strategy will help you to identify the direction you should take in your digital and IT strategy. All of this will be instrumental in helping you to decide how you will use the cloud services that are available to you in the wider market. Some of the key themes in the Acquiring and Managing Cloud Services book and course include how to:

  • Make informed decisions when going to the cloud
  • Know what to look for in selecting vendors and avoid making risky mistakes
  • Keep implementation and usage/monitoring costs low
  • Craft a solid cloud strategy that supports the broader organizational strategy and vision

The purpose of the AMCS book and class is to help leaders become more informed consumers of cloud services so they can increase customer satisfaction and revenue, drive growth, control cloud spending, and mitigate risks that come from going to the cloud.

What is in the ITIL 4 Acquiring & Managing Cloud Services book and class?

The AMCS book and course provides best practices, recommendations, and ideas from the public and private sectors on how to best find, engage, negotiate, onboard, and manage cloud services from the point of view of a buyer of cloud services. Below is a summary of three useful concepts from the book: determining our cloud strategy position, managing the overall customer journey, and staying on top of key trends in cloud.

1: Understanding cloud strategy position

There is a variety of cloud services an organization might acquire depending on its maturity in the marketplace and how critical cloud is to its mission. Not all cloud relationships are created equal, and each type requires a different strategy.

The diagram below comes directly from the cloud publication. It illustrates how an organization’s cloud strategies may vary based its need for governance and architecture. The x-axis, Cloud architecture and governance position, represents the spectrum between highly controlled and centralized (on the right) to decentralized and autonomous teams forging their own ways (on the left). The y-axis, Cloud strategy position, shows strategies concentrating on standardized and commoditized offerings (on the top) and a greater appetite for more experimentation and innovation (on the bottom).

ITIL 4 Cloud - Usage and Governance Scenarios

Figure 2: Cloud use depends on cloud strategy position and architecture and governance position

This diagram allows leaders to visualize what the cloud can mean to their unique environment and think about what’s required to exploit these capabilities. For example:

  1. An organization that is more conservative may tend to use cloud only to provide commoditized components to achieve greater efficiency or cost savings in existing systems. It may also want to replace systems that are outdated, without changing the function or role of the service.
  2. An organization that wants to maintain control of its core components, while allowing decentralized teams autonomy in how they use those components, may use its IT department as a broker and manager of the core components, while allowing the decentralized teams to manage solutions under their control.
  3. An organization that depends on innovation to be competitive but needs to centralize control over all innovation will tend to use cloud for controlled experimentation and staged migration to new solutions in the cloud only after they have proven effective.
  4. An organization that has multiple, autonomous products or lines of business may encourage experimentation and agile development on several fronts at once, allowing each team to control the services it uses within a high-level framework to ensure strategic alignment.

2: The customer journey of acquiring and managing cloud services

The customer journey is “The complete end-to-end experience that service customers have with one or more service providers and/or their products through touch-points and service interactions.” This is the same journey that features prominently in upper-level ITIL 4 classes such as Drive Stakeholder Value and High Velocity IT and is shown in the figure below.

ITIL 4 Cloud - Customer Journey

Figure 3: The Customer Journey

Each module addresses content as it moves step by step along this journey, understanding that the journey is not always linear. In many cases, decisions made in one step may impact decisions made in earlier step requiring a cyclical or iterative approach, leveraging feedback to re-assess decisions (as shown in figure 4 below). All these activities contribute to the strategy an organization will use to manage their cloud operations. Different organizations and leaders will enter this journey at different points.

ITIL 4 Cloud - Customer Journey Not Linear

Figure 4: The Journey is not always linear

What are the key steps associated with the Customer Journey for cloud services?

ITIL 4 Cloud - Customer Journey Key Steps

3: Key trends impacting the use of cloud

There are four key trends and challenges that leaders must consider when procuring, implementing, evaluating, and managing cloud services and technologies. They are the growth of cloud usage, application mobility, sustainability, and waste.

Growth of Cloud Usage

Use of the cloud continues to grow explosively. In 2021, Gartner predicted that spending on Public Cloud Computing will increase by 18.4% year over year to more than $304 billion by 2022. The COVID Pandemic has proven the value that going to the cloud provides and is solidifying its position as the new normal for operations. The cloud is just too useful for enterprises as they increase their investments in mobility, collaboration, and other remote-work technologies and infrastructure. The same will be true for the post-pandemic future, as the cloud will give enterprises the means they need to concentrate on agility and digital touch-points. This same Gartner report states that about 70% of enterprises currently in the cloud will increase their cloud spending.

Application Mobility

Application Mobility, according to a recent Forbes article, is the new Business Continuity. “When faced with a crisis or security event, it’s crucial that businesses can recover data and move their applications to where they’re needed instantly.” The concept of freeing your applications from any one location is not just one of efficiency, it could save your business.


An article from The Food Institute cites several different reports that add up to the idea that consumers are willing to change their shopping habits as a way to reduce negative impacts on the environment. Companies leveraging cloud services can see a dramatic reduction in carbon emissions. This is especially true when you consider that today’s consumers are arguably younger, wealthier, and better informed than in past generations. And, according to Forbes, they are four to six times more likely to purchase from a company that pursues a higher purpose.  This is not just a moment.  This is the future. Even if you are not personally concerned about sustainability issues such as environmental change, responsible sourcing, and fair working practices, there is a good chance your customers care, and that impacts the bottom line. These concepts are further explored as part of the ITIL 4 book on sustainability.


Without the right strategy, strong discipline, and excellent practices, enterprises are finding substantial waste in their cloud spend. According to the State of the Cloud 2021 report, respondents found that up to 30% of what they spent on cloud services was wasted or eaten up by rising costs; and actual waste is 35% or even higher on average. Not surprisingly, optimizing the existing use of cloud ranks at the top of the five key cloud initiatives:

  1. Optimizing existing use of cloud (cost savings)
  2. Migrating more workloads to the cloud
  3. Better financial reporting on cloud costs
  4. Progressing on a cloud-first strategy
  5. Expand use of containers

All of these trends form part of the larger concept of value co-creation for the cloud (as shown below). When combined with positioning cloud strategy upfront and managing the customer journey throughout, this helps ensure cloud services provide value and support the larger business strategy and mission.

ITIL 4 Cloud - Value Co-Creation with VUCA

Figure 5: Value Co-Creation for the Cloud

Where does the cloud course fit into the ITIL 4 certification schema?

The AMCS course fits into the ITIL 4 certification scheme as one of the ITIL Extension Modules, the other one being ITIL 4 Specialist: Sustainability in Digital & IT. As you can see in the diagram below, the extension modules extend separately and outside of the familiar Managing Professional (MP) and Strategic Leader (SL) tracks. This is a great way for leaders, especially those who are not working in IT, to get a strategy-focused, vendor-neutral guidance on cloud management and an understanding of how to manage critical IT services (concepts taught as part of ITIL 4) at the same time.

Axelos ITIL 4 Certification Schema with ITIL Extensions Modules

Figure 6: Axelos ITIL 4 Certification Schema with ITIL Extensions Modules

What prerequisites are needed to take the AMCS course and exam?

There are no prerequisites to take the AMCS course, not even ITIL 4 Foundation (though it’s highly recommended to set a baseline and introduce critical vocabulary and concepts). The AMCS course is offered exclusively through Axelos Accredited Training Providers.

What do I need to score to pass the Cloud exam?

The Acquiring and Managing Cloud Services course is a three-day class with a multiple-choice certification exam. The 40-question closed-book exam is 90 minutes in duration. Students taking the exam will need to score 70% (get 28 or more of the 40 questions correct) to pass the exam and receive the certification. The exam is provided through PeopleCert.

Who is the audience for the acquiring and managing cloud services book and course?

AMCS is designed for your organization’s decision makers in the cloud services space. This would include roles from manager up to and include the C-Suite. This is not a technical course or book. Rather AMCS is intended for those business and IT leaders who will:

  • Define the business strategy, or digital/IT strategies
  • Define the cloud strategy
  • Identify, choose, provision, or manage technologies for products, services, and business usage
  • Define the customer or user experience for cloud services
  • Decide on cloud architectures and governance

Where can I buy the acquiring and managing cloud services book?

The book is available from PeopleCert and is provided for free electronically as part of an AMCS course.

Do I earn PDUs or continuing credits with the cloud course?

Students that take the three-day course will earn 24 continuing educational credits (CEUs) or Professional Development Units (PDUs) for those who hold the PMP certification.

Originally published February 02 2022, updated April 04 2023