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ITOM vs. ITSM: Differences, Similarities, and Using Them Together

Read Time: 6 minutes

What Is IT Operations Management (ITOM)? 

IT Operations Management (ITOM) is an approach that involves overseeing and controlling the infrastructure and technical components of an organization’s IT environment. This includes the hardware, software, network resources, and services required for the smooth and efficient operation of enterprise IT environments. 

ITOM focuses on the day-to-day maintenance and management of IT infrastructure, aiming to minimize downtime and maintain optimal performance of IT services. By managing the provisioning, capacity, performance, and availability of the computing, networking, and application environment, ITOM helps organizations improve operations and deliver high-quality IT services.

The goal of ITOM is to create a stable IT infrastructure that supports business processes and enables organizations to respond quickly to changing business needs. It involves continuous monitoring, management of IT resources, and implementation of best practices to ensure that IT services are reliable and available to end-users. 

What Is IT Service Management (ITSM)? 

IT Service Management (ITSM) is a discipline focused on the management of IT services through the effective design, delivery, support, and improvement of IT services that meet the needs of an organization. ITSM aims to align IT processes and services with business objectives, emphasizing quality, efficiency, and customer satisfaction. 

The approach is centered around the idea that IT services should be delivered according to a set of well-defined processes and procedures, which are designed to optimize service levels and ensure that IT infrastructure and operations support core business functions. By adopting ITSM, organizations can improve service delivery, increase customer satisfaction, and enhance their ability to manage IT resources and costs more effectively.

ITSM encompasses a wide range of activities, including incident management, problem management, change management, and service level management, among others. It often incorporates best practice frameworks and methodologies like ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) to guide the organization in managing IT services effectively.

Key Similarities Between ITSM and ITOM 

Service-Oriented Approach

Both ITSM and ITOM adopt a service-oriented approach, focusing on delivering value to the business through IT services. This perspective emphasizes the importance of aligning IT operations and services with business needs, ensuring that IT supports the organization’s goals and objectives. 

In both disciplines, the end goal is to provide high-quality IT services that meet the requirements of users and customers, facilitating smooth and efficient business processes. This approach encourages continuous improvement and adaptation to changing business environments. By prioritizing the delivery of services that add value, ITSM and ITOM contribute to the overall performance and competitiveness of the organization.

Structured Approach to IT Management

ITSM and ITOM both utilize structured approaches to managing IT, employing standardized processes and best practices to ensure consistency, efficiency, and effectiveness in service delivery and operations. This facilitates the planning, implementation, and monitoring of IT activities, enabling organizations to achieve greater control over their IT environments.

The adherence to a structured approach ensures that IT services and operations are scalable, reliable, and capable of meeting the evolving needs of the business. It also enhances the ability to measure performance, manage resources effectively, and deliver continuous improvement in IT service delivery and infrastructure management.

Emphasis on Security

Both disciplines incorporate security practices and principles into their processes and procedures to safeguard IT services and infrastructure against threats and vulnerabilities. This includes implementing security policies, conducting risk assessments, managing access controls, and responding to security incidents.

The emphasis on security reflects the recognition that robust security practices are essential for maintaining the trust of users and customers, complying with regulatory requirements, and protecting the organization’s reputation.

ITOM vs. ITSM: Key Differences 

While IT operations management and service management overlap in many ways, there are some important distinctions between them.

Primary Focus

The primary focus of ITOM is on the operational aspects of IT infrastructure and services, including the management of servers, networks, storage, and applications to ensure they are available, efficient, and secure. ITOM is concerned with the day-to-day maintenance and optimization of IT operations, aiming to minimize downtime and ensure the smooth functioning of IT systems. 

This focus on the technical and operational management of IT assets is essential for supporting the delivery of IT services but is more internally oriented toward maintaining IT infrastructure.

On the other hand, ITSM focuses on the delivery and management of IT services to end-users and customers, emphasizing service design, transition, operation, and continual service improvement. 

ITSM is oriented toward aligning IT processes and services with business objectives and user needs, ensuring that IT supports the organization in achieving its goals. The objective is to enhance the quality of IT services and customer satisfaction, making ITSM more externally oriented in its approach to managing IT.


ITOM aims to ensure the efficient and reliable operation of IT infrastructure and services, focusing on system performance, availability, and security. By optimizing IT operations, it helps create a stable and effective IT environment that supports business continuity and operational excellence. The goal is to manage and maintain the IT infrastructure in a way that maximizes efficiency and minimizes disruptions to business processes.

In contrast, the objective of ITSM is to deliver high-quality IT services that meet the needs of users and support the business objectives. It aims to improve the design, delivery, and continuous improvement of IT services, focusing on customer satisfaction and the alignment of IT services with business goals. This helps ensure IT services are delivered in a way that adds value to the business and enhances the overall user experience.

Processes and Frameworks

ITOM focuses on operational processes such as network management, application performance monitoring, and incident response, utilizing tools and technologies designed to optimize the performance and availability of IT infrastructure. The processes in ITOM are geared toward the technical management of IT assets, with an emphasis on automation, monitoring, and optimization to ensure efficient operations.

ITSM, on the other hand, utilizes service management processes such as incident management, problem management, change management, and service level management. These processes are guided by frameworks like ITIL, which provide a structured approach to designing, delivering, and improving IT services. The focus is on managing the lifecycle of IT services, ensuring they are aligned with user needs and business objectives.

Management and Users

ITOM is primarily concerned with the internal management of IT infrastructure, focusing on the needs of IT operations teams and the technical aspects of IT systems. The users of ITOM processes and tools are typically IT professionals responsible for maintaining the IT infrastructure, with a focus on operational efficiency and system performance.

ITSM is focused on managing IT services from the perspective of end-users and customers. It’s designed to meet the needs of users who rely on IT services to perform their job functions or access information. ITSM emphasizes customer service and the user experience, aiming to deliver IT services that are accessible, reliable, and aligned with user expectations.

Tools and Technologies

ITOM employs a range of tools designed for monitoring, managing, and optimizing IT infrastructure, such as network monitoring tools, application performance management solutions, and automation platforms. These tools are used to ensure the performance, availability, and security of IT systems, with a focus on operational efficiency and system management.

ITSM utilizes service management tools and platforms that support the delivery and management of IT services. These include service desk software, ticketing systems, and other platforms that facilitate incident management, problem management, service catalog management, and other IT service management processes. ITSM tools are designed to improve service delivery, manage service requests, and enhance the user experience.

Combining ITOM and ITSM

By integrating ITOM and ITSM practices, organizations can ensure that their IT operations are efficient and reliable while also delivering high-quality IT services that meet the needs of users and support business objectives. This integrated approach allows for a more cohesive and effective management of IT, leveraging the strengths of both disciplines to enhance the performance, availability, and security of IT systems and services.

The combination of ITOM and ITSM encourages alignment between IT operations and service delivery, ensuring that IT infrastructure is managed in a way that supports the delivery of services. It also enables organizations to more effectively manage the lifecycle of IT services, from design and deployment to operation and continual improvement. 

By adopting a combined ITOM and ITSM approach, organizations can optimize their IT environment, improve service levels, and drive business value through effective IT management. This holistic approach to IT management improves operations, enhances customer satisfaction, and enables organizations to respond more effectively to changing business needs.

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