Live from Knowledge14 – ServiceNow preview Kanban visual task boards

Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco.
Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco, home of Knowledge14

I’m in sunny San Francisco, California for ServiceNow’s annual user conference; Knowledge14.

ServiceNow are expecting a mind boggling 6,000 attendees over the next few days – making it arguably the largest worldwide event in the ITSM field. Knowledge14 also includes 300 specialist breakout seminars and lab sessions and includes an expo hall of 108 ServiceNow ecosystem partners.

The gorilla in the market continues to demonstrate impressive growth with c. $650m+ goal for this year.

5 year growth trajectory
5 year growth trajectory

Eureka Preview

ServiceNow customers can expect a truckload of new products and features in Eureka, the next major release of the platform.

High Level Summary

  • Service Creator
  • Catalog Item Designer
  • Multiple Catalogs
  • Form Designer
  • Demand Management
  • Visualizations
  • Performance Analytics
  • Facilities Service Automation
  • Visual Task Boards
  • On-Call Scheduling
  • Event Management
  • Business Service Map
  • Configuration Automation

My Highlights:

Clearly lots here for customers to dig into for the next release, from my brief preview my two key highlights were:

  • Kanban tasks boards: Visual Task Boards (Think Trello or LeanKitKanban for Enterprise) Anyone benefiting from the kanban style visualisation and scrum team boards will just love this. See a screenshot and brief demo on an iPad below.
  • Germ of an idea to delivered projects: Demand Management Scorecards – Looks very cool at first glance. Good ideas can be captured, services discussed and built by non-IT users, then the business case and resources to build it can be visualized and scheduled.

Visual-Task-Boards

Knowledge14 continues until May 1st, stay tuned for further updates.

Things I didn’t learn in ITIL school

4902440868_5f916ccdb6_zWhile at the Pink Elephant Conference back in February, I successfully completed an ITIL intermediate class/exam and the really cool part of this is, that I’ve been able to use the knowledge gained in the course to change my company’s adoption plan and help streamline our strategy.

I was discussing this sequence of events and outcomes with colleagues. Our conversation kept circling back to the things we have to do in ITSM to help drive adoption and how many of those things that are not covered in ITIL courses. I have jotted them down here to help you in your planning, as these items can be the “sticking” points that disrupt and delay ITSM activities.

Sales/Selling

In any ITSM plan you need to have a sales strategy and sales plan. You are bringing concepts and ideas that may be seen as “threats” to the way your colleagues currently conduct business. You will need to be able to convey your message to senior/executive management, line staff, mid-level management, and customers.

You will not find much in the ITIL books that explain how to sell a new idea/change to your business. You will need to master this skill on your own and you will need to spend time outside of work perfecting it.

One other point to mention is that people sometimes swap the terms “sales” and “marketing” in similar context. Personally I do not think they are the same thing. Sales plans are designed to help decision makers “buy” your ideas/concepts. Marketing plans are designed to help teams adopt decisions. Of course, there is overlap in the definitions though. I encourage you to gain insight in to how your organization views these terms and plan accordingly.

Takeaways:

  • Have a “sales” plan for each ITSM item
  • Read books on selling or discuss with professionals who sell things for a living

Negotiation

You and your team will have wonderful ideas. While we know you have the organizations best interests at heart, not everyone may see your proposals as progress. You will need negotiation skills to help settle difference in opinions and reach the best possible outcome. You will need to assess attitudes, understand what knowledge is available, and draw on interpersonal skills to obtain a win-win situation.

Mastering this skill will not only benefit you in an ITSM role but may also help you be seen as a better candidate for future positions.

Takeaways:

  • Take courses on formal and informal negotiation techniques
  • Build a relationship/mentorship with a person who negotiates for a living. Practice negotiating with this person

Building Relationships

Of all the potential pitfalls you may encounter, building relationships can be the showstopper. This skill is necessary regardless of the work you do. You MUST learn to network and build relationships with people throughout your company/organization.

Think of it this way; a person’s decision whether to help you may depend on how you make them feel, how much they trust you, and their perception of how willing you are to work with them. Building good solid relationships with everyone who will execute your ITSM vision is critical for success.

Yes, it will be a lot of hard work. You will need to prove you put their needs before yours, be prepared to give consistently and receive occasionally, value the message and the messenger, and be willing to see the other person’s view without bias. You do not necessarily need to have deep, meaningful contact with everyone but you do need to have the ability to allow others to perceive they can be comfortable around you.

Takeaways:

  • Try to meet someone new in your company every day. Once you have met everyone in your company branch out to your community
  • Make notes on family, hobbies, likes, etc., on your contacts. Review these notes prior to meeting with the person
  • Use social media to meet people from around the globe
  • Do not force this – build relationships at the other person’s pace

The value equation

In ITSM, we spend a great deal of time discussing the value of a service. We discuss the importance to the business of showing value in the services we offer, we discuss the pitfalls off not showing value, and we discuss the criteria and mechanics of how to show value. Do we discuss how to show the value of ITSM adoption?

The CIO has made an investment in the IT department by deciding to adopt ITSM. The CIO most likely had to get someone above his/her role to agree this was a good idea as well. Regardless of stated requirements for your role, the CIO expects you to demonstrate value. You will need to show the ROI of an improved process, the TCO of service activities, how efficiently it has provided more resource capacity, how teams are now utilizing the additional resource capacity, and how the ITSM program is fit for purpose & fit for use.

Takeaways:

  • Understand how to calculate ROI and TCO and how your company interprets this information.
  • Be able to show the utility and warranty of your ITSM work.
  • Hold regularly scheduled reviews with senior leadership on ITSM value.

Final Thoughts

I learned about most of these items the hard way. Most (if not all) the things listed here are (possibly unstated) expectations of you. Remember:

  • Focus on building relationships. Good relationships will take you far in your journey.
  • While you need to be in charge of the sales plan, you do not have to be the chief seller. If others in your company are good at selling, enlist their help.
  • Make sure you understand what information/reports your boss and the CIO want/need regarding the value of the ITSM program
  • Do not get overwhelmed if you cannot quickly master these skills. These skills take time to learn and internalize. Remember this is an iterative process and little improvements on each interaction are good.
  • Do not forget to record your accomplishments somewhere. You’ll need them for your value calculations and discussion.
  •  Do not forget to enjoy what you do and have fun. You can quickly succumb to the negatives in ITSM work. At the end of the day, especially the tough days, ask if you helped make your company better. If the answer is no, regroup and try again tomorrow. If the answer is yes, pat yourself on the back move onto the next goal.

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Change Management – Surviving Implementation

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The super power of a change manager is an “invisible shield”, just like Violet from The Incredibles

One of the things I’m getting asked about most this year is about getting the basics right – how to actually do change management in the real world. We all know that having good processes in place protect us all, ensures we meet regulatory guidelines and are generally just common sense, but what about using them so that we can build a better, stronger IT organisation? In this article, I’m going to talk about getting started and surviving the implementation phase. I’ll then follow it up with another article on how to actually run your change management process.

Let’s start from the beginning. change management sits in the transition stage of the service lifecycle. ITIL states that the objective of change management is “to ensure that changes are recorded, evaluated, authorised, prioritised, planned, tested, implemented, documented and reviewed in a controlled manner. In a nutshell, change management is about putting things in, moving things round or taking them out, and doing it safely and without setting anything on fire.

When describing the change process, I call change managers the guardians or protectors of our network. They ensure all changes are sanity checked, tested, reviewed, approved and scheduled at a sensible time. Their super power is an invisible shield (like Violet in “The Incredibles”) that protects the rest of the organisation from the adverse impact of change.

Getting started: Common Excuses and Ways Around Them

Change management is an incredibly important process because it enables you to manage, control and protect your live environment. Since the credit crunch, I’ve had more and more people coming to me saying that their change departments would either have to endure massive cut backs or stop improvement works. Here are some of the most common excuses I’ve come across for this along with some possible ways around them.

Excuse number 1: “We don’t have the time”. Ok, what about all the time wasted dealing with the impact of failed or unmanaged changes, firefighting incidents and dealing with the big angry mob camped outside the IT department waiting to lynch us for yet another mistake? Let’s be sensible, having a strong change process in place will lead to massive efficiency savings and the use of standard changes, models and templates will make the work involved repeatable.

Excuse number 2: “We don’t have the resources”. What about all the time spent going cap in hand to the rest of the business explaining why a key service was unceremoniously taken out by a badly executed change? Spin doctoring a major incident report that has to go out to external customers? I’d argue that you’re wasting resources constantly firefighting and if you’re not careful it will lead to stressed out departments and key individuals burning out from the stress of trying to keep it all together. Instead of wasting resources and talent – why not put it to good use and start getting proactive?

Excuse number 3: “We don’t have the money”. What about all the money spent on service credits or fines to disgruntled customers? Then there’s the less tangible side of cost. Reputational damage, being front-page news, and being universally slated across social media – not nice and definitely not nice having to deal with the fall out. Finally, what about compliance and regulatory concerns? Failing an audit could be the difference between staying profitable or losing a key customer.

Excuse number 4: “We can’t afford expensive consultants”. Ok, hands up. I used to be a consultant. I used to work for Pink Elephant UK and for anyone out there looking for an amazing consulting / training company then go with Pink – they rock. That aside, if you can’t afford outside help in the form of consultancy, you still have lots of options. Firstly, you have the itSMF. Again, I’m biased here because I’ve been a member, as well as a speaker for, and chair of, various sub groups and committees, all in an attempt to champion the needs of the IT service management community. Here’s the thing though, it’s useful war stories, articles, white papers and templates written by the members for the members. There’s also ISACA which focus more on the governance and COBIT side of things. There’s the Back2ITSM movement – lots of fantastic help support and information here. There’s the ITSM Review and blog sites from the likes of The IT Skeptic – lots of free resources to help you sort out your change Management process.

Excuse number 5: “I’m probably going to be made redundant anyway so what’s the point?” Yes, I am serious, this is an excuse I’ve come across. There’s no way to sugar coat it, being made redundant or even being put at risk is (to put it mildly) a rubbish experience. In that situation (and believe me, I’ve been there) all you can do is keep doing your best until you are told to do otherwise. Having a strong change management process can be a differentiator on responses to bids. Tenders as SOX compliance, or ISO 20000 accreditation can set you apart from competitors. Bottom line, we have to at least try.

Planning for Change Management

So how do you get started? First things first: you need to get buy in. Most management guides will tell you to focus on the top layer of management as they hold the purse strings, and that’s very true, but you also need buy in from your guys on the front line – the guys who will actually be using your process. Get their buy in and you’re sorted, because without it you’re stuffed.

So, starting with the guys at the top, you need to speak to them in their language and that means one thing – a business case! This doesn’t have to take forever and there are lots of templates out there you can use. The key thing is to explain clearly, in their language, why change management is so important. Things to cover in your business case are introduction, scope, options, deliverables and benefits. Now get your techies on board. There’s no “right” way of doing this. As someone with a few war stories to tell, things that have worked in the past include:

  • sitting down with your techies
  • templating everything
  • using the umbrella argument (more on that later)
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Krispy Kremes can help

I’ve also found that bribing support teams with doughnuts can be very effective, as a former techie I can confirm that Krispy Kreme ones work particularly well.

Once you’ve got your buy in, gather and confirm your requirements.  At the risk of playing management bingo here, a good approach is to set up workshops. Engage with both IT and the rest of the business so that there are no surprises. If you have an internal risk or audit department now is the time to befriend them! Using the aforementioned donuts as bribery if necessary, get their input as they will have the most up to date regulatory requirements you need to adhere to such as SOX or Basel 3.

Define the scope otherwise it will creep! Plan what you want to cover carefully. Do you want to cover all production equipment? What about test and DR environments? Whatever scope you agree, make sure it is included in any SLAs, OLAs or underpinning contracts so that you have documented what you are working to.

Keep your end users in mind

When writing your policy, process and procedures, keep your end users in mind. Don’t try to cover everything in red tape or people will find ways to circumvent your process. Let’s start with your policy. This is your statement of intent, your list of “thou shall” and  “thou shall nots”. Make sure it’s clear, concise and is in alignment with existing company standards. I know this might sound counterintuitive but also, prepare for it to be broken. It might sound strange but there will be times where something will need to be fixed in the middle of the night or there will need to be an urgent update to your website. It’s important that changes are raised in enough time for them to be reviewed and authorised, but exceptions will pop up so plan for them now when you’re not under pressure. Examples of when an emergency process could be used are:

  • Something’s broken or on fire (fixing a major incident)
  • Something’s about to be broken (preventing a major incident)
  • Major commercial reasons (in response to a move by a competitor)
  • A major risk to compliance has been identified (e.g. base rate changes, virus patches)

When looking at your process, make sure you have all the bases covered. This will include:

  • Recording and processing the change
  • Change assessment
  • Change Advisory Board (CAB)
  • Build and test
  • Implement
  • Review and close

I’ll talk about these in lots of detail in part two of this article.

Training & Communications

You’re about to go live with your sparkly new change management process and you want it to be a success so tell people about it! First, attend every team meeting, management huddle and town hall that you can get away with! Get people onside so that they know how much help change management can be and to reassure them they won’t have to go through lots of red tape just for the sake of it. Another way of getting your message out is to use posters. They’re bright, cheerful and cheap – here is one that I’ve used often.

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Pelt front line teams with coloured balls if necessary! Not too hard though!

In terms of training you need to think about your change management team and your stakeholders, the people that will be raising changes using your process. For your change management team there are lots of practical courses out there that can help – a few examples could include:

  • ITIL Foundation
  • ITIL – Service Transition
  • ITIL – Release Control and Validation (RCV)
  • COBIT
  • SDI Managers Certificate
  • ISO 20000

Other important considerations include:

  • On the job training
  • Shadowing

But what about your front line teams who will be raising the changes and carry out the work? Again put some training together – make it interactive so that it will be memorable – in the past I have been pelted by brightly coloured balls by a colleague in the name of explaining change management so there really is no excuse for death by PowerPoint!

Things to cover are:

  • The process, its scope and the definition of a change
  • Raising a change record to include things like implementation plans, back out plans, testing, risk categorisation (“no it is not ok to just put medium”) and DR considerations
  • Templates & models
  • Benefits

I’ve done a fair few of these in my time so if you would like some help or examples just ping me on my contact details below.

Go Live

So you’re good to go. You’ve gathered your requirements, confirmed your scope, got buy in and have written up your policy, process & procedures. You’ve socialised it with support teams, ensured everyone has been trained up and have communicated the go live date. So deep breath time, go for it! Trust yourself, this is a starting point, your process will improve over time.

Metrics

I’ve written lots about metrics recently and have spoken about the basics in a previous article on availability, incident and problem management but in short:

You need to have a mission statement. It doesn’t have to be fancy but it does need to be a statement of intent for your team and your process. An example of a change management statement could be “to deliver changes effectively, efficiently and safely so that we put the customer at the heart of everything we do”.

Next come the CSF’s or critical success factors. CSFs look at how you can achieve your mission and some examples for change management could include:

  • To ensure all changes are carried out effectively and safely.
  • To ensure all changes are carried out efficiently, on time and with no out of scope emergency work.
  • To work closely with our customers & stakeholders to ensure we keep improving while continuing to meet their needs

Finally, we have Key Performance Indicators or KPIs. These give you the detail on how you are performing at the day to day level and act as an early warning system so that if things are going wrong, you can act on them quickly. Some example KPIs for change could include:

  • More than 98% changes are implemented successfully
  • Less than 5% of changes are emergency changes
  • Less than 10% of changes are rescheduled more than once
  • Less than 1% of changes are out of process

So you’ve survived your change process implementation – smile,  relax and take a deep breath because now the real work starts! Come back soon for part two of this article which will give you some practical advice on running your new change management process.

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Eight Principles for Transforming Cybersecurity

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Enterprises today not only have to defend their assets – they must hunt.

This article was contributed by Robert Stroud, Vice President at CA Technologies.

Just five short years ago, cybercrime represented just 1% of all economic crime (source: PricewaterhouseCoopers, Global State of Information Security Survey, 2011). By 2011, that number jumped to 23%, and we can continue to expect those numbers to climb.

The numbers aren’t the only thing increasing – so too are the complexity and persistence of these crimes. According to an ISACA survey of more than 1,000 security professionals, more than 9 in 10 respondents believe advanced persistent threats (APTs) represent a credible threat to national security or economic stability. Among the enterprises that have experienced an APT attack, one in three were unable to determine the source (source: ISACA, Advanced Persistent Threat Awareness Study Results, 2014 (publishing in April).

There is no question that cybercriminals are more sophisticated than ever before. Enterprises today not only have to defend their assets – they must hunt. Detection and response, rather than prevention, are becoming the focus. But with a growing skills gap, still-lean budgets and constantly evolving threats, where can enterprises start?

Eight principles

In its Transforming Cybersecurity Using COBIT 5, global association ISACA recommends starting with these eight principles:

  1. Know the potential impact of cybercrime and warfare. Make sure you are aware of the potential damage a cyber attack can cause and the wide-ranging impact it may have. The organization must decide the risk level it can tolerate in order to ensure the appropriate level of cybersecurity governance.
  2. Understand end users, their cultural values and their behavior patterns. As the ISACA guide notes, “Business impact and business risk relating to cybersecurity arrangements are strongly influenced by organizational and individual culture.” The culture – and the resulting end-user behavior and patterns – should be accounted for in the enterprise’s strategic, tactical and operational security measures.
  3. Clearly state the business case for cybersecurity and the risk appetite of the enterprise. The business case outlining expected value and tolerable risk will drive the overall cybersecurity strategy. As a result, the business case must have depth and definition. Among its contents, it must include cost-benefit considerations and the organization’s culture and values pertaining to cybersecurity.
  4. Establish cybersecurity governance. There is no need to reinvent the wheel here. Adopting and customizing a governance framework such as COBIT will give you the tried, tested and proven governance guidance you need. By effectively governing cybersecurity, an organization provides a clear sense of direction and boundaries.
  5. Manage cybersecurity using principles and enablers. The principles and enablers found in COBIT 5 will help your organization ensure end-to-end governance that meets stakeholder needs, covers the enterprise to end and provides a holistic approach, among other benefits. The processes, controls, activities and key performance indicators associated with each enabler will provide the enterprise with a comprehensive picture of cybersecurity.
  6. Know the cybersecurity assurance universe and objectives. Cybersecurity covers multiple areas and aspects within information security. To provide adequate assurance over cybersecurity, the cybersecurity universe must be well defined, and the assurance objectives must be clear and manageable.
  7. Provide reasonable assurance over cybersecurity. This principle requires all three lines of defense within an enterprise to be defined and managed. This includes monitoring, internal reviews, audits and, as needed, investigative and forensic analysis.
  8. Establish and evolve systemic cybersecurity. Cyber attacks target the weakest link in the system. As a result, cybersecurity must be looked at as a system of interdependent elements and the links between them. To optimize cybersecurity, the enterprise must have complete understanding of this dynamic system and must be fully aware that security governance, management and assurance cannot be viewed in isolation.

Using COBIT

While no company can be 100% secure, regardless of the controls and security measures it has in place, companies that use good practices such as COBIT are off to a good start. COBIT treats cybersecurity systemically. It helps ensure that an organization has end-to-end policies and processes in place, which helps them recover more quickly and effectively after a breach.

Using COBIT 5, enterprises approach cybersecurity as a business process that is aligned with the enterprise’s governance, risk management and compliance arrangements.  They divide it into four phases: prepare, investigate, remediate/respond and transform. The “transform” phase is especially key, as it ensures that the post-incident analysis leads to key insights and improvements that are put into practice. By using COBIT 5 to transform cybersecurity in your enterprise, you can help ensure that cybersecurity is transformed systemically.

Consider this sobering statistic from the ISACA APT survey: one in five enterprises have experienced an APT attack. That number is only going to grow. Take advantage of the excellent guidance out there and make sure your enterprise is following these eight principles; to make sure you are ready to prepare for, detect and respond to a cybersecurity attack.

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Agile CSI: continual service improvement done right

10034579444_60a0fdc982_zDon’t worry. I am not going to rant on about hypothetical methods or visionary statements. I will not explain why agile is important for the ITSM industry, nor will I explain why agility is crucial for business survival. After all, these are no-brainers, right? I will only use your valuable time to illustrate a practical experience on implementing continual service improvement (CSI), the agile way.

In the past few years I have been privileged to apply lean and agile principles, methods and instruments to many different (IT) service environments. Most of the assignments were focused on delivering more value to stakeholders, improving collaboration between functions and domains, and reducing change lead times. However, one of the most intriguing assignments revolved around creating a culture of continuous improvement for a professional services company.

The problem

First, here’s some context. The customer I am referring to, is in the business of providing professional infrastructure and telecom services to its customers. The IT director realized they had a huge problem, when their largest customer repeatedly complained about their supplier’s reactive behavior. Surely, the customer got what they asked for, but there was no such thing as proactive service management, let alone continuous improvement of processes and services. My customer thought that they had this covered by having an extensive description of a CSI process, according to ITILv3. Yet somehow, no real improvements were initiated, let alone carried out. I profoundly assume this does not surprise you.

ITIL

Looking at the core objective of CSI, I have always applauded this addition to the ITIL set. After all, it recognized the essence of having a flying wheel for improvements throughout the IT service organization and lifecycle. However, allocating a separate process and rather waterfall and administrative approach to achieving this objective, is why ITIL’s CSI falls short in so many implementation attempts. Similar to Imai’s Gemba Kaizen, successful continuous improvement in IT services involves small, bottom-up, incremental improvements, integrated in business as usual. In addition, ITIL fails to address the most important element of achieving continuous improvement: culture. For instance, as long as the culture of the organization does not reward improvements or even does not allow mistakes to be made, those mistakes/errors will be covered up, instead of being visualized, improved and learned from.

Agile

This is where the Agile way of thinking comes in. At this organization, we introduced agile principles (eg. multidisciplinary, self-organized teams), methods (scrum) and instruments (kanban) to address their improvement issues, and to grow towards a proactive service organization. We started off with scrum. First by ensuring all stakeholders had a shared understanding of agile principles, the scrum process and its relevance to support and operational environments. After that, we allocated the roles. The complaining customer picked up the product owner role, whereas the service manager became the scrum master. The primary people involved in the service chain (service desk, design, develop, test, operations, main supplier) were involved as team members.

Then, as a joint effort, the entire team investigated the current opportunities for improvements, both on processes and delivered services. All improvements were collected on a product backlog (i.e. an improvement backlog). We used a uniform format to write them down: user stories. The good thing about user stories, is that they are short and simple, yet always address the “why” question. This resulted in user stories such as below:

agile

In parallel, we used planning poker as an instrument to estimate the improvements. I find this a particularly useful way of estimating both changes and improvements. The relative measure (story points) appeals to the unpredictive and indeterministic nature of so many changes and improvements.

In two weeks time, we had the product backlog filled (i.e. “ready” for 3 sprints), and prioritized by the product owner. So yes, this means that the customer decided where improvements were to be made first. After that, we narrowed down the product backlog into a sprint backlog for the first sprint and started off with a planning session for that sprint. Here, we created tasks for the allocated user stories, which were added to the physical scrum board we had set up. Together with the other, obvious ceremonies (stand up, demo, retrospective), the scrum process was in place and led by the service manager (scrum master). Every day, the team members pulled their actions through the process, picked up and realized the improvements during the 3 sprints.

Results

After three sprints of each one month, 80% of all identified improvements had been realized. And implemented. Result: an engaged customer, visibly happy with the improvements made thus far and confident regarding the proactive capabilities of the service organization. But it didn’t stop there. Yes, we stopped using scrum. After three sprints the backlog almost evaporated. But at that time, it was still positioned as a separate instrument. That is why we incorporated all future improvements on the regular kanban board, which was already used for incidents, problems and changes. Improvements became business as usual. All team members, including the customer, were actively involved throughout the delivery chain, all aimed at continuously improving the service delivery chain. The people involved were all aware of the priorities of their work in progress, and the value of their daily improvements.

I hear you say: this sounds too good to be true. Of course, we encountered several problems along the way. Quite a few team members were skeptical with regard to using agile principles and instruments. Showing them the value of visualization, sharing tasks across the multidisciplinary team and providing insight into the entire delivery chain, really catalyzed their changing attitudes. In addition, it was certainly not easy keeping everyone on track and on focus for the improvements during the sprints, next to their daily incidents, project work and other engagements. Daily stand-ups, management attention and visualizing results have surely contributed here.

The future

Creating a continuous improvement mindset is all about stimulating a learning culture. You are never ready. The same goes here. Having a CSI mindset is not enough to keep learning effectively. Further improvements for this organization include the optimization of measurements, and a further integration of Lean and Agile elements, or from Rob England’s TIPU framework.

Agile CSI is only one example of how agile and lean principles and instruments can help the IT function deliver great services. ITSM has a key role in achieving this, by sharing practical experiences, good practices, but most of all creating the conditions for all stakeholders to improve their work, processes and services.

Want to hear more from me on this topic? Join my BrightTalk webinar on 10th September 2014.

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Podcast Episode 2: 'Hot tables' at SITS, ITSM Industry News, CSI and Barclay in his onesie?

ManageEngine
Thanks to our friends at ManageEngine for sponsoring this podcast.

Episode 2 of The ITSM Review Podcast!

Hosted by Barclay Rae and Rebecca Beach.

Special Guest: Stuart Rance from Optimal Service Management

ITSM Industry News

CSI

  • Most problem management is CSI
  • CSI – source of the biggest ROI
  • Metrics for change management, Real meaningful metrics for CSI
  • Stuart Rance – Balanced Scorecard Approach
  • 1. What does it look like for the customer?
  • 2. How well are my internal processes running?
  • 3. What do the finances look like?
  • 4. What am I doing to learn and improve?
  • Taking Service Forward

Our next Podcast is scheduled to be recorded at SITS14.

If you have industry news to share ahead of our next podcast please give me a shout.

Thanks to our friends at ManageEngine for sponsoring this podcast.

ITAM Review and ITSM Review Feeds

Change and Release Management: What are they? What’s missing?

Daniel Breston
Daniel Breston

This article was contributed by Daniel Breston, Consultant at Qriosity Limited.

I was recently challenged by Mike Orzen (co-founder of Lean in IT practises and my mentor) to answer a simple question: what do you think the purpose of change and release management is in ITIL or any other IT best practice framework?

I started by asking what aren’t they?

Change is not about doing the change, and release is not about managing the approval of a request to change. Change helps me make a decision; it answers the question WHY with a “yes” or “no”. But “yes” or “no” to what?

How many times has a request been approved, but what was delivered did not match what was approved? If IT has no value until it releases something that is usable to a customer, we better be sure that “yes” and “approved” are used for getting an organisation to be competitive, compliant, reliable, secure and cost-efficient as quickly as possible. Lean helps by creating a value stream from idea to solution, in a similar fashion to the ITIL lifecycle of service strategy to service operation. In both cases, the solution to the customer needs to be delivered as timely as possible.

You can’t manually approve every request as this would block the flow in the IT value stream. So the creation of standard change types assist in identifying low-impact, repetitive, and easy to fix types of requests.  LeanIT likes standard work, as once you know if the request or change will not place the organisation at risk of losing a customer or wasting money, you can then automate the decision process to flow the request to the design phase, if required. If it will impose a risk or loss, then the request can be routed to a more formal approval process that can also be leaned over time.

Change should control every aspect of a release (the doing process of an approved change), so we have to look at all of the places change gets involved to help design a fast, flowing stream across IT, and ultimately one that works from the customer (pull) instead of IT pushing releases to the customer.

So where does or should change get involved?

An example:

The above could form the basis of a release process. I am sure more questions are needed, but if we allow the various teams to continuously improve the above, we can release valued services into the organisation. The teams might use lean methods such as kanban boards to control work, kaizen to improve work and agile or DevOPS to get services developed and agreed.  Another aspect of lean that the table demonstrates is waste removal. If the change gateposts help to reduce defects, re-work, wait time between tests via automation or script reuse, for instance, then the flow of the value stream is enhanced end to end. Removing or automating/facilitating the gates in a formal process will also help increase flow resulting in a better time to market, quality enhancement, productivity improvement and cost reduction.

Configuration management – the needed process for ITSM & lean success

To be effective (first) and efficient (second), we need data.  Where are requests, business cases, regulatory and architectural requirements for design, code, tests, or service acceptance criteria kept for example? We turn data into information to gain knowledge to deliver value. Configuration management is the data to knowledge management process. The information in a configuration management database (CMDB) can be used to enhance the way a process, team or tool performs. For instance, if we create a cycle of CCRCCR: (change to configuration to release to change to configuration to release…) to be as fast as possible; then the agility of creating solutions in a timely manner becomes our standard culture or way of working.

How do we start?

I suggest by mapping the value stream, as much as possible, from end to end.  At first you may only be able to do the parts internal to IT but keep adding until you have the entire value stream from requester to customer mapped.  Lean value stream mapping helps improve how an IT organisation, business enterprise and partners create and improve ways of work.  Get as many representatives as possible involved in a mapping exercise and use post-it notes to visualise the current way of working.   Try to get the people that do the work involved as this generates buy-in for future change improvements.  Your post-it notes could include time of steps, teams involved, tools used, etc.  Don’t trust what you create in a conference room.  Go out and see (lean calls this “gemba”) to validate your understanding.

Now return to the conference room armed with your knowledge and improve the flow of the stream (steps). Add a few measures to control the flow of the stream and most importantly BEGIN.  Don’t wait for the tool changes or other procrastination reasons: start using the new way. Check how changes are approved, the steps performed to create a release, the results of any improvement (agreed and tracked) and use the CMDB to maintain the information such as your review of other ITSM processes. You can continue to create a unified view of your IT practices, processes, tools, capabilities, etc. The lean trick is to make checks or improvement a daily part of work, not something owned by the program team, but by the people doing the activities all along the stream. Let them own and celebrate the success.

Set some stretch goals for how long it should take to agree a requestor, how fast to perform a release etc. Look at quality, productivity, stock reduction (number of tests or environments needed) as examples.  PLEASE note that cost is a benefit and if you see that as a target it may be viewed as a job-cutting exercise when it should be viewed as a job enhancement opportunity.

Please let me know what you think and try blending Lean into your ITSM world.  Have fun doing it!

This article was contributed by Daniel Breston, Consultant at Qriosity Limited.

Building the business case for configuration management

Carlos Casanova
Carlos Casanova

This article has been contributed by Carlos Casanova from K2 Solutions Group

At last year’s itSMF USA conference in Nashville I had the pleasure of meeting Dagfinn Krog from itSMF Norway. We had a great conversation regarding configuration management and The Phoenix Project by Gene Kim, and during the conversation, there were some references to attending the conference in Norway, but nothing I took all that seriously. Much to my surprise, a few weeks later I received a formal invitation to not only attend the conference in Norway but to participate in three different sessions.

Having never traveled to the region before, I jumped at the opportunity to participate in what many describe as “one of the best service management conferences in the industry”. Shortly after accepting to participate, I received an invitation from Tobias Nyberg from the itSMF Sweden to meet the itSMF Sweden team in Stockholm after the conference in Norway. To say I was thrilled to be invited to the region and meet with their member and discuss configuration management would be an understatement.

This conference was, in some ways, very different to the many ones that I have attended in the US. The primary differentiator being that this one was much more personal. It could have been the size, which was at record number this year, but personally I think it was more than that. There seemed to be a more “family” feel to it which, for a foreign traveler was very welcoming. From first arrival in Norway to final departure from Stockholm, I could not have asked for a more personal and warm reception from everyone. It’s as if we had known each other for years.  A huge thank you to all involved for making a long trip away from home that much easier.  Ok… now on to why you actually read “ITSM Review”

Configuration management workshop

As I mentioned, I participated in three sessions, of which this was the first. This pre conference workshop focused on developing the business case for your configuration management efforts. We had a great group of individuals participating that were slammed with far more materials than they could ever have possibly absorbed in such a short time, but they all did a great job working through the five activities we had scheduled to start formulating the basis of the business case.

  1. Why is configuration management Important to my organization?
  2. What does “value” look like to my organization?
  3. How will each process area reap “value” from the configuration management initiative?
  4. What should I expect to encounter within my organization that will hinder value from being achieved?
  5. What will I do in the first 30 days once I get back to start generating value?

In a three hour session with a total of approximately one hour to work on the activities, it wasn’t expected that they would form cohesive thoughts and statements but, at a minimum, they would start formulating the foundations of their argument. In much the same manner, we can’t cover all the material from the workshop in this article but, below are some highlights for you to think about.

  • Without configuration management, your level of operational maturity will always be limited due to lack of insight into how devices and services mesh together to deliver business outcomes.
  • If you can’t define/demonstrate what “value” looks like in your organization and to the various domains that must participate, everyone will define it themselves. Leaving it up to each area to define without guidance will most assuredly result in a variety of expectations which you will likely never be able to meet.
  • Identify your biggest challenges immediately and address them or set a path around them. If it’s people, find out what their biggest desire is and see if you can satisfy it. If you can, they will be your biggest advocate and asset to success. If you can’t avoid, if possible, impacting their area for as long as possible until you have established some traction and a broader support base to take them on.
  • Get started. You can’t keep putting it off. The challenge of not knowing has always existed and has only gotten worse.  Waiting for a better time to do Configuration Management is silly. Do something, anything…. and do it now.

What Configuration Management, CMDB and CMS is and isn’t

This session was predominantly based upon materials from my book (The CMDB Imperative)  and framed the core concepts around executing a configuration management initiative. Unfortunately, whether it is clients in the US or individuals in Scandinavia, there are some common areas that everyone seems to struggle with implementing and/or understanding.

  1. CMDB versus CMS – They aren’t the same thing.  Understand the difference and which approach is most likely to work for you. Very briefly, they can be thought of as…
    • CMDB – A conceptual structure that provides perspective to the relationship between two objects controlled in a single data store.
    • CMS –  A conceptual structure that provides perspective to the relationship between two objects across more than one controlled data stores
  2. Relationships – Without them, you really don’t have configuration management, you have watered down asset or inventory management. You’re basically a manifest manager. Sorry!
  3. Transforming Data into Information – There is no shortage of data in every organization. We’re drowning in it.  Problem is, there is no context to it. Configuration Management adds context.
  4. Complexity – Yes, it can be complex if you let it be. Cut through it and look at it through a small network/neural network perspective. Focus on singular connections between items. Then repeat for the next and the next. Eventually you’ll identify them all.
  5. Perspective and Layers – You need to, if you haven’t already, adopt the perspective of the consumer rather than producer.  It is all about producer-consumer relationships and the view from the other side is not always attractive and you need to know that.
  6. Transitioning and Awareness – Your organization didn’t get to where it is overnight and it won’t sort itself out overnight. Set realistic expectations. Expect potholes and speed bumps. Plan for them and factor them in. Be aware of your surroundings at all times because they will sneak up on you.

Establishing a common vision of what “it is” and what “it is not” is instrumental to the likelihood of success. Set a sound strategy and vision and then start small and work at a tactical level to deliver value at regular intervals. You need the small “wins” early to stand a chance at bigger accomplishments later.

Anything about Configuration Management

The last configuration management related session I conducted for itSMF Sweden members, where we held an unstructured question and answer session whereby the individuals simply asked anything related to configuration management. We then had an open conversation about the question and/or statement.  From questions about specific challenges to advice for how to go about doing something, this session solidified my early sense that their challenges, questions and concerns were not very far from their peers in the US or UK.

They were challenged by essentially the same things:

  • Lack of and/or constantly changing “leadership”
  • Poor, nonexistent constantly changing directives
  • Cultural resistance to changing how it’s currently done (a topic discussed extensively in the round table session I also participated in about the Future of ITSM at the Norway conference)
  • Misunderstanding/confusion of the difference between ITAM and SACM

The first three of these challenges are interrelated and based on poor or frequently changing leadership.  Think of leadership as a compass.  It sets direction and vision for where you need to go. If the compass is broken or the owner of the compass continually picks a different location to sail towards, you will never reach your a destination. When this occurs, the masses lose general confidence in leadership and will no longer feel that they should exert energy towards moving in any direction set by them.

An individual I met a long time ago, who was at the time working for a global enterprise well known for their musical chair approach to “leadership” had been subjected to this type of environment for years. He told me without shame or hesitation, (paraphrased) “I just need to get my work done today.  I have outlasted the last three CEOs & CIOs. I will outlast the next three if I just ignore the latest leadership whim and just do the work as I know it needs to get done. I’d like to believe that the next guy will be different, but I have lost faith in that potential so I just focus on doing my job today.”  The bottom line; without strong, reliable and consistent leadership, even the best ideas are likely to fail and breed a bad working culture.

The last item listed has been a more recent awareness as I have worked with more mid-sized clients typically less mature in their operational processes. As these companies try to improve their operational maturity and IT cost accounting, they recognize the need to first capture and maintain lists of devices in their environment and what they cost; i.e. asset and inventory management. However, with all the talk of how configuration management enables you to see all the devices, they tend to make the connection, incorrectly as it may be, that configuration management is the mechanism by which this is done. So, these companies venture down the road labeled “configuration management” unknowingly in search of “asset and inventory management”.

In summary

All in all, the events in both Norway and Sweden were excellent and I strongly recommend that if you have the opportunity to attend next year, you do. The organization of them is top notch, the venues are as you would expect and most importantly, you will be welcomed as though you have been part of their family since birth. Go and enjoy, you won’t regret it professional or personally.

This article has been contributed by Carlos Casanova from K2 Solutions Group

Social Meet Up: 30th April

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This social meet up has now taken place. Thanks to all who joined us. We will post information about our next social meet up soon.

Given that the annual IT service desk and support show (SITS) is nearly upon us, I figured it made sense to schedule a social meet up for all the cool kids for straight after the event. Of course some of the cool kids will be in San Francisco for Knowledge14 (our own Martin Thompson and Rebecca Beach included), but I figured there would still be enough coolness in London to make a good get together.

Full details on location, costs and how to RSVP can be found below. Whether you’re a practitioner, vendor, or consultant we would love to have you come along for some informal networking, putting the ITSM and ITAM world to rights, a few tipples, and generally just a fabulous time.

Apologies again to all of our readers outside of the UK (I promise we’re working on getting something to you).


WHAT

Informal ITSM and ITAM social gathering

WHERE

Rocco (3-5 minutes walk from Earls Court Exhibition Centre)

WHEN

Wednesday 30th April, 5pm onwards for drinks. Meal for those who wish to stay on will be circa 6.30pm at the same location.

COSTS

Cost of your individual meal and drinks will be payable on the night. We recommend budgeting between £20-30 for the evening. Please note that we will not be responsible for the final bill.

RSVP

Please contact me directly to confirm your attendance.

CONFIRMED ATTENDEES

Image Credit

Technology Review: Solarwinds Web Help Desk (WHD) V 12.1

solarwinds-inc-logoThis is an independent review of Solarwinds Web Help Desk, reviewed in March 2014.

AT A GLANCE

A global leader in the market of service automation software and remote management
SolarWinds mission is to provide purpose-built products designed to make IT professional’s jobs easier.

This review takes a look at the core capabilities, the route to market, competitive strengths and weaknesses, product development roadmap and market reach of SolarWinds Web Help Desk (WHD) V 12.1, which was released in January 2014.

Available as both self-hosted and SaaS (through their partner Loop1) SolarWinds WHD has an intuitive browser-based user interface with customizable forms, easy to create rule-based workflow and integration with many network and application management tools.

SUMMARY OF KEY FINDINGS

Strengths

Weaknesses

Easy installation and deployment  Separate Change Management area needed
Consistent look and feel with other SolarWinds products   No Release Management
Easy scalability   No graphical representation of asset relationships
125,000 strong user community   No Service Catalog

PRIMARY MARKET FOCUS

Although encompassing a broad range of industries and sizes of organization, SolarWinds WHD is popular in the Education sector and with SMB’s.

70% of SolarWinds customers are currently based in North America but purchase is being made in both EMEA & APAC.

With several products that fit into the ITSM space, namely Dameware Remote Support, Patch Manager and Mobile Admin, SolarWinds are now actively promoting these together and plan to offer bundled sales packages.

ANALYSIS

Named as Forbes Best Small Company in America in 2012, SolarWinds provides a wealth of network and system management tools including over 30 free offerings.

In 2012 SolarWinds made the logical move to add a ticketing tool to their product portfolio by procuring Web Help Desk, at the time their seventh acquisition since 2011.

Products are grouped into the following categories:

  • Application and Server Management
  • Log and Security Information Management
  • IT Alert and On Call Management
  • Network Management
  • IT Help Desk
  • Virtualization Management
  • Storage Management
  • Database Management
  • File Transfer

The company has headquarters in Austin, Texas and operates out of a growing number of worldwide regional offices (eight at the time of writing).

SolarWinds community, Thwack, has over 125,000 users worldwide who collaborate and share.  As a result with a little searching you can find a Knowledge Base article or forum post with the answer to almost any question you may have.

With advanced and well integrated suites within almost every aspect of IT Management this competitive differentiator means that they are a good fit for network support heavy IT Departments wanting to track tickets and assets with the minimum of fuss.

Fully customizable forms make fitting the tool around your processes much easier than with some others.  It’s surprisingly easy to define complex rule-based workflow meaning that no matter how obscure some of your processes are, with careful consideration and time spent on Thwack you’re sure to find a way.

Native asset discovery and integration with 3rd party software platforms for asset discover and asset management.  This together with the Parts area of the tool which helps to catalogue spares such as keyboards, mice, etc. should help to ensure that even the most controlling of Asset Managers are happy.

Most current competitors offer some kind of integration to third party discovery/event management tools but not to the extent or with the ease of SolarWinds WHD and are often accompanied by extended consulting engagements. With the right marketing SolarWinds with their cost effective tool and highly integratable portfolio should climb the ITSM tool vendor ladder swiftly.

The Self Service portal along with the Tech area contains a reservation desk to check in or out assets and warranty and lease alerts are configurable to ensure vendor maintenance contracts are maintained.

SolarWinds WHD has the ability to easily scale to the largest of organisations whilst still maintaining the ease-of-deployment and use that has made SolarWinds among the most popular vendors for the mid-market.

SolarWinds WHD is an excellent entry nearing mid-range Service Desk tool.  However with the development of Change Management/Release Management this would raise the profile of the tool considerably.

Like Asset Management, Change Management is not an area usually dealt with by the Service Desk Analysts and as such I believe it warrants it’s own area separate from tickets.  A dedicated Change calendar would also be useful with the ability to set blackout schedules.  This combined with some degree of Release Management, even if basic, would open SolarWinds to a much larger audience.

SolarWinds face the challenge of educating the market of their new capabilities in ITSM in a market crowded with competitors. However, they face these challenges with an already huge existing user base and from a position of proven track record in the IT Management sector.

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KEY CAPABILITIES

The table below shows the key capabilities of SolarWinds WHD

Tickets
  • Eases migration by importing tickets from legacy ticket systems
  • Enables configuration of multiple tiers and groups of IT staff and assignment of triage and escalation tasks to tiers and groups
  • Includes easily-customizable and dynamic ticket forms with unlimited custom fields
  • Simplifies ticket organization by allowing linking of unlimited incident tickets to a single problem
  • Dynamically routes and assigns help desk tickets to a specific technician or group of technicians
  • Each ticket’s processing sequence is time stamped and user tagged, including system updates and automation decisions
  • Automates load balancing of ticket assignment

 

Asset Management
  • Easy to build parent/child relationships between assets
  • Shows software licensing distributions across network, including how many license keys of a particular software are in the field versus ready for assignment
  • Calculates warranty and lease end dates based on purchase order information
  • Tracks by asset type, status, location, manufacturer and model
  • Enables you to manage who uses what by associating an end user with a specific asset or group of assets
  • Associates end-users to service requests or incident tickets with a specific asset or group of assets
  • Provides a running history of all service requests for a given asset
  • Allows end users to select their current location and then provides a list of all assets in that specific location for easy asset identification
  • Asset discovery data from any source can be scheduled to import regularly or on-demand
  • Includes a Reservation Center that allows end users to request a designated check-out time and date range for a specific asset
  • An overdue alert system easily identifies lost or stolen inventory

 

Change Management
  • Enables association of service request types with approval and change processes
  • Approvers can approve or deny directly from email or via the web interface
  • Supports individual voting and voting by panel
  • Approval processes can be simple or complex as needed, from a one step sign-off to multiple levels of succession
  • Approvers can be configured based on roles, ensuring the request is addressed by the appropriate individual based on location, department and position

 

Knowledge Base
  • Enables you to query a knowledge base article that resolves a request and inject a hot link to a FAQ or tool tip into the trouble ticket note
  • Offers related FAQs and tool tips to end users as they submit a service ticket
  • Supports embedded videos and file attachments
  • When technical knowledge base articles are intended primarily for internal use or reference, SolarWinds Web Help Desk can organize your knowledge base articles and flag visibility to the departments of your choice
  • Enables you to grow your knowledge base organically by letting your IT staff easily submit common ticket resolutions as potential knowledge base articles for internal or external public consumption
  • Automatically flags each newly submitted article as “unapproved” requiring final approval from your knowledge base manager before becoming visible

 

GO-TO-MARKET STRATEGY

Founded in 1999 SolarWinds have grown year on year and provide over 50 IT management tools in their portfolio.

SolarWinds sells it’s products through an inside sales model and through channel partners all over the world.  Rather than involve consultants, potential SolarWinds customers are encouraged to self evaluate for a period of 30 days and visit the user community, Thwack, to witness the sharing and support that take place.

With a good solid grounding in the network, systems and application management arena the move into the Service Desk area completes a very comprehensive set of IT tools.

With the consistent look and feel of the SolarWinds products WHD will

It is estimated that the average user now deploys 2.5 of the main product groupings.

SolarWinds WHD is licensed per user/technician in a perpetual licensing mode which is scaled down as users are added.

Prices start at $695 per user and scales down as users are added.

Business Partner Summary

Key Business Partners
  • Loop1 (Loop One)

Market Penetration

Number of customers on maintenance 4,000+
Typical Customer
  • Small-medium business
  • Based in North America
  • Late adopters

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IMPLEMENTATION

Typical Installation

Installation of SolarWinds WHD is fast and straightforward taking anything from 10 minutes to a few hours to set up depending on the complexity of importing/migrating configuration data such as tickets, locations, request types, FAQ’s etc.

SolarWinds WHD can be implemented/deployed using only internal staff and typically can be dealt with by one technician/engineer.

Full installation requirements (please note this is not the case for evaluation installations):

Software Requirements
Operating System
  • Windows Server 2003 32/64-bit, Windows Server 2008 32/64-bit, Windows Server 2008 R2 64-bit, Windows Server 2012 32/64-bit, Windows Server 2012 R2 32/64-bit
  • Recommended for installations with more than 20 technicians, Windows Server 2003, 2008 or 2008 R2, and 2012 64-bit OS .

 

Web Console Browser
  • Chrome 30, 31, and 32
  • Firefox 24, 25, and 26
  • Internet Explorer (IE) 8, 9, and 10
  • Safari 5 and 6

Note: Chrome v32 and Mozilla v26 are the latest versions of those browsers tested with WHD 12.1.0. Because Google and Mozilla release new versions of their browsers so often, testing WHD on the very latest browser is not always possible. It is likely, however, that WHDv12.1.0 will work with Chrome and Firefox releases newer than those it has been tested on.

Hardware
  • CPU Speed – Dual Core 2.0 GHz or faster
  • Hard Drive Speed – 20 GB
  • Mac Architecture – 64-bit Intel
  • Memory – 3 GB (add 1 GB for every 10 additional technicians/engineers)
  • Application Ports – 8081 (or alternate browser port), 1433 (SQL)

The installer configures the application and the optional embedded PostgreSQL database automatically.  A setup wizard walks the administrator through initial configuration steps.  It is suggested that you run the SolarWinds WHD application and external database on separate servers for optimal performance.

As an alternative to Windows, Mac, and Linux installer applications, a Linux-based virtual appliance is also available.

To fully benefit from all features, WHD requires configuration (e.g. email, Active Directory/LDAP connection, Asset synchronization etc.) however it is possible to use it almost instantly by using web UI to raise tickets, auto-creation of users and the Free version requires very little configuration and is basically a straight-out-of-the-box solution for very simple use.

Time to Value

The short time required to install SolarWinds WHD together with the ease of use, scalability and minimal manpower costs for deployment suggests a rapid ROI.

Resources Required

As with all ticketing systems the tool is only as good as the information inputted.  Ongoing maintenance and data verification will be required especially with regard to Knowledge Management and Asset Management.

Scalability

The application is implemented as a J2EE servlet running under Tomcat, with JDBC connections to a relational database that can run on a separate server or cluster. (Comes bundled with an optional embedded PostgreSQL database. MySQL and SQL Server are also supported.) Additional servlet containers, running on the same or separate nodes, can be configured as needed. For most SMB customers, the application’s caching mechanisms facilitate scaling to increased performance requirements by simply allocating additional memory, without requiring additional hardware nodes. For larger customers, a common configuration separates background daemon processes such as asset discovery and e-mail processing onto a second server, which can be set up using the standard application installer

PRODUCT ROADMAP

SolarWinds have several directions in which they plan to further grow Web Help Desk

  • Provide tighter integration with other SolarWinds products, particularly Orion based, to provide streamlined problem resolution and the remote support product, Dameware
  • Enhance the reporting capabilities to provide data that will help customers understand and foresee issues for greater IT control.
  • Further develop configurability and ability of Web Help Desk to adapt to the customers processes
  • Enhanced project management capabilities

The next product release is tentatively scheduled for September 2014.  There are usually 1 major and 1-2 minor releases per year.

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PRODUCT PORTFOLIO

  • Server and Application Monitor
  • Virtualization Manager
  • Storage Manager, Powered by Profiler
  • Patch Manager
  • Log and Event Manager – Affordable SIEM
  • Web Performance Manager
  • Web Help Desk
  • Dameware Remote Support
  • Dameware Mini Remote Control
  • Serv-U Managed File Transfer Server
  • Mobile Admin
  • System Center Extension Pack
  • Virtualized Application Performance Pack
  • Web App Monitoring App
  • Log and Security Information Management
  • Log and Event Manager – Affordable SIEM
  • Firewall Security Manager
  • Alert Central
  • Network Performance Monitor
  • Netflow Traffic Analyzer
  • Network Configuration Manager
  • IP Address Manager
  • User Device Tracker
  • VoIP and Network Quality Manager
  • Engineer’s Toolset
  • Network Topology Mapper
  • Database Performance Analyzer
  • Database Performance Analyzer – VM Option

COVERAGE

Head Office Austin, Texas
Regional Offices Utah, Colorado, Canada, Czech Republic, India, Singapore, Australia, Ireland

FURTHER RESOURCES

Website – http://www.webhelpdesk.com

Demo – http://www.webhelpdesk.com/download-demo/

VENDOR PROFILE

In their own words:

“Named by Forbes as one of the top 10 fastest growing technology companies, SolarWinds is improving the way IT management software is developed, priced, purchased, delivered, and used. At SolarWinds, we are fanatical about putting our users first in everything we do. We strive every day to deliver powerful functionality that is easy to use with one of the fastest and longest lasting ROIs in the market.

Our IT monitoring and management software is built for SysAdmins and network engineers who need powerful, affordable, and easy-to-use network and server monitoring software that saves time and simply gets the job done. Evaluating, buying, deploying, and using enterprise software shouldn’t be complex. IT management and monitoring software from SolarWinds is easy to try, buy, deploy and use. That’s unexpected simplicity.”

CONTACT DETAILS

SolarWinds Contact Details

Head Office 3711 South MoPac Expressway, Building Two, Austin, Texas 78746 P: 866.530.8100 F: 512.682.9301
Other Locations EMEA Headquarters Unit 1101, Building 1000, City Gate, Mahon, Cork, Ireland P: +353 21 5002900 F: +353 212 380 232APAC Headquarters Intec House, Level 22 – SolarWinds, 215 Adelaide Street, Brisbane, QLD, 4000 P: 1 800 090 386 F: +61 (07) 3319 6401Tulsa, OK 4111 S. Darlington Ave. Suite 500, Tulsa, OK 74135New Zealand Duckworths Building, 20-22 Munroe Street, Napier, New Zealand

Singapore 6 Temasek Boulevard #39-01/02, Suntec Tower Four, Singapore 038986 Tel : +65 6593 7600 Fax : +65 (0)6 491 5123

Dallas, TX 4040 McEwen Road, Suite 240, Dallas TX 75244

India Module 4, 6th Floor, Block A, SP Infocity, #40

MGR Salai, Perungudi
Chennai – 600 096, Tamil Nadu

Brno, Czech Republic Holandská 6/873, 639 00 Brno, Czech Republic

Post Falls, ID 510 S Clearwater Loop # 100, Post Falls, ID 83854

Lehi, Utah 2500 West Executive Parkway, Suite 300 Lehi, UT 84043 385-374-7000

SUMMARY

SolarWinds WHD is a good fit for SMBs and organizations in the Education sector with IT Departments heavily dependent on network monitoring and event management.

Strengths

Weaknesses

Easy installation and deployment   Separate Change Management area needed
Consistent look and feel with other SolarWinds products   No Release Management
 Easy scalability   No graphical representation of asset relationships
125,000 strong user community  No Service Catalog

Disclaimer, Scope and Limitations

The information contained in this review is based on sources and information believed to be accurate as of the time it was created.  Therefore, the completeness and current accuracy of the information provided cannot be guaranteed.  Readers should therefore use the contents of this review as a general guideline, and not as the ultimate source of truth.

Similarly, this review is not based on rigorous and exhaustive technical study.  The ITSM Review recommends that readers complete a thorough live evaluation before investing in technology.

This is a paid review, that is, the vendors included in this review paid to participate in exchange for all results and analysis being published free of charge, without registration.

For further information, please read our Disclosure page.