How to Establish an ITAM Program in Less Than 30 Days

Guest post by our friends Tom Bosch & Cathy Won at BDNA. We met Tom & Cathy at Knowledge 16 earlier this year (Vegas baby!) and got chatting about how we need to be more agile in getting both ITSM and ITAM established.

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Today’s IT departments are grappling with the sea change brought by cloud architectures, virtualization, mergers and acquisitions, software audits, compliance, security, upgrades and a host of other initiatives, such as BYOD (bring your own device). These new challenges only exacerbate current complexities in managing company laptops, desktops, servers, operating systems, network hardware, and now, mobile devices and tablets.

As the IT landscape continues to evolve, it is vital that enterprises gain greater control over the various components within their IT infrastructure. Not only do ITAM solutions help companies detect and prevent IT and regulatory risks, they also maximize a company’s productivity.

The challenge is understanding where and how to begin deploying a new IT Asset Management (ITAM) program, or how to leverage existing ITAM solutions in a way that keeps up with these changes. Below are suggestions for how an effective ITAM program can be established in less than 30 days.

 

Deploy Sooner than Later

Software vendors frequently — and without warning — audit customers to ensure they are in compliance with license contracting terms. An audit can be triggered out of nowhere, and failing one audit could trigger more. For software vendors, it’s simple business logic: Make sure customers pay for any software usage above and beyond what they are entitled. But for customers, providing proof that the organization is using only properly licensed software can be cumbersome and complicated.

According to a recent survey of several hundred IT professionals conducted by Information Week and BDNA, more than 61 percent of companies were audited within the last 18 months, and more than 17 percent of them were audited more than three times within that same 18-month period.

And as anyone who has been through one is aware, software audits carry hefty fines. In addition to the hefty financial burden of paying for the settlement, true-ups and additional IT, legal and PR resources, organizations also find their productivity, credibility, opportunity and reputation impacted post-audit.

Given the high consequences of non-compliance, ITAM can no longer be taken lightly as an optional discipline. The sooner an ITAM program is put into place, the sooner a company is protected from a costly audit.

 

Know the Answers

More than 85 percent of the BDNA survey’s respondents admitted that they were “accidental” software pirates, either deploying software for which they had never paid or exceeding their number of acquired licenses.

When senior executives ask how to make ITAM projects as simple as they can be, they really want a process that answers these three questions:

  • What do I have?
  • Are we using what we’ve purchased?
  • Are we entitled to all we are using?

By achieving greater visibility, an enterprise achieves some key benefits:

  • Stronger negotiation position with suppliers
  • Better security and system integrity
  • Reduced risk and improved governance

 

4 Steps to Greater Visibility

 The most fundamental goal of greater visibility can be achieved in less than 30 days with these four steps:

1) Discovery: The first step to greater visibility into the enterprise is to discover what assets the enterprise holds. Many enterprises already possess the tools to do part of this, but are not properly integrating the tools into their overall IT management processes. Existing tools such as System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) can often be used to capture raw data about IT assets. Most companies have at least six tools installed and can leverage that data – and ensuring the right processes are in place to do that is key.

2) Reconcile the data: Eliminate unnecessary, irrelevant and duplicate data discovered across multiple tools. That duplicate data can be safely discarded, ridding the enterprise of distracting clutter.

3) Remove redundant and unauthorized applications by identifying overlaps and keeping only those that are being fully utilized.

4) Pair inventory with your procurement process: This improves compliance in preparation for an audit as well as identifying unused resources and licenses, giving you additional leverage to negotiate with your suppliers.

By following these guidelines, enterprises can significantly minimize the risk from an audit and disruption to business as usual in less than a month.

 

About the Authors

Tom Bosch is a Certified Software Asset Manager who operates as director of Sales at BDNA Corporation. He has spent the last five years working with dozens of corporations solving ITAM issues. With a diverse 30-year background in sales, operations and finance management, Tom has been involved in numerous re-engineering projects in which the focal point remains process simplification.

Cathy Won is director of product marketing at BDNA.  Cathy has extensive product marketing and product management experience, including time at NetApp, Juniper Networks, EMC, VERITAS, Legato and Brocade.

 

Featured image credit.

Three Projects for Your Five-Year ITSM Plan

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Building ITSM solutions today that can meet the demands of tomorrow

When making plans to improve IT service management (ITSM), most IT leaders adopt one of two approaches. They either improve what they have by integrating with other IT systems, or they adopt forward-looking projects that leverage IT trends and advancements such as cloud, mobility, social media and IoT to help drive efficiencies and plan for the future.

According to a March 2015 report, “The Future of ITSM,” the top three strategic priorities for most ITSM teams include:

  • Improved experience for end users
  • Improved operations-to-ITSM integration for incident and problem management
  • Improved operations-to-ITSM integration for configuration and change management

However, these improvement plans should not exclude projects that address IT trends, as Gartner’s “Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends” report reinforces:

“IT leaders must understand and prepare for the impacts these disruptive trends will have on people, their businesses and IT departments, and then determine how they can provide competitive advantage.”

With both incremental and future needs in mind, here are three projects to consider for your five-year ITSM plan:

Project 1: Add IT Asset Management

Without ITAM integration, technicians must rely on verbal discovery, a process that can waste valuable time. By mapping IT assets to the person using the asset, support can quickly determine which devices and software the employee is using, including hardware, OS and application versions, recent updates and warranty expirations. Having easy access to these details aids in decision-making and rapid problem resolution. It also allows analysts to more easily determine if certain devices or configurations are the source of recurring or major incidents.

Furthermore, many IT organisations now automate repetitive tasks and processes, including ordering and assigning IT assets. For example, if someone needs specific software for her job, an automated request and software delivery process can eliminate the need for an analyst to get involved. Automations may also result in an improved user experience. However, software asset management is required as part of the process, in order to track software entitlement and protect the organisation from allocating more licenses than it owns.

Despite the obvious benefits, many organisations have failed to properly define and fund asset management projects in the past. With the rapid rise of IoT devices on the network, however, that may no longer be an option.

Gartner estimates that by 2020, a typical family home could have more than 500 smart devices – a significant increase from the approximately ten we see today. Imagine, then, what that means for average-sized organisations; especially when you consider connected devices are expected to explode from 4.9 billion in 2015 to 25 billion in just five years.

This aspect of an ITAM-to-ITSM project has forward-looking considerations. For many organisations, there isn’t an immediate need to integrate IoT into their ITSM solution. However, as the influx of IoT assets continue, it’s hard to imagine controlling hardware inventory, licenses and security without a proper IT asset management system in place.

Any time IT has to investigate issues on the network, there are costs associated. The longer it takes to find the issue, the more it costs. With potentially millions of IoT devices in a large environment, just determining where those assets are located could quickly overwhelm IT resources. Additionally, connected devices could pose a security risk unless properly managed.

Organisations can prepare for the oncoming IoT surge by taking on the right projects now, and integrating IT asset management into an existing ITSM implementation is a good place to start.

Project 2: Automate Processes and Integrate Tools Wherever Possible

In many institutions, automating processes like inventory discovery or software updates serve as go-to tactics for reducing IT cost. Eliminating the need for support to make a single trip to an employee’s desk to troubleshoot or apply updates often justifies the cost of such tools. With such a rapid ROI, many IT leaders have implemented client and mobile device management. However, only a fraction of these groups have taken the next step and integrated their systems management solutions with their ITSM environment.

If you are operating with reduced budgets, one of the best ways to improve service offerings and prepare for emerging trends is to integrate those tools with the ITSM environment. In doing so, you’re making their capabilities more easily accessible to both service analysts and end users.

As you evaluate how to make this project a reality, look for opportunities to automate wherever possible – inside and outside of your ITSM solution – and then integrate the processes.

For example, HR has procedures for new hires that require employees to complete tax and insurance information. Rather than keep information siloed, why not connect these processes to your ITSM solution to coordinate related IT onboarding requests such as hardware procurement or automatically provisioning the system with the software and network access required for the job?

Once this architecture is in place, your ITSM environment will be better prepared to handle evolving technology trends and the increased workloads expected as IT support is required to extend to non-traditional devices.

Project 3: Improve Self-Service

Many organisations provide basic self-service portals to allow employees to request corporate software. As millennials and other tech savvy employees enter the workforce, it makes sense to empower them to handle common IT requests on their own. Done correctly, self-service projects also improve service desk response times and end user satisfaction.

A recent global study shows that more than 81 percent of end users try to solve their own IT problems before asking for help. With that in mind, it’s beneficial to help them be as successful in their attempts as possible. However, that same research also indicates that less than 18 percent of those users leverage their organisation’s service portal, turning to Google or co-workers for help before calling IT directly. Clearly, there is room for improvement.

For instance, when a user has a problem, a good self-service portal should provide access to a knowledge base of common issues and frequently asked questions. Recent knowledge management innovations simplify the process even further. Now, a user can take a picture of an error on the screen and the system will automatically search for an answer. If additional help is needed, the user can open a support request from the page, using a simple form designed to route the incident to the appropriate group.

The automation example above can also extend to self-service. For example, while many organizations provide automated password resets for customer-facing websites, they haven’t made the same capability available to employees. When a user forgets his/her password, a support person with the appropriate rights has to unlock the account using network tools. An automated process would instead allow the analyst to trigger the reset by simply pressing a button on the incident page. Ultimately, the best way to handle this scenario is with a self-service process that eliminates the need for an analyst to be involved at all.

Whether your self-service portal needs an update, or you need to build one from scratch, this project can leverage your asset management and automation efforts. The good news is, like automation, self-service projects can significantly reduce IT support costs – freeing up the resources necessary for other initiatives that enable your organisation to adapt to future technology demands.

IT leaders are constantly looking for ways to improve IT service management, but no matter how they aim to tackle it, keeping the end user experience and operations-to-ITSM integrations in mind is key. When putting together a five-year ITSM plan, leaders should be cognizant of both the immediate needs of the organisation and what’s to come in the future. Taking steps to prepare for the IoT surge and accompanying IT asset management demands, growing need for automated processes and integrated tools and self-service portals will not only assist IT teams now, but for years to come.

Marcel Shaw

 

This article was contributed by Marcel Shaw, ITSM and ITAM specialist at LANDESK.

 

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ITAM and ITSM Integration Group Test – The Results

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Six tools offering ITAM and ITSM from around the globe

This Group Test explores the relationship between the IT management disciplines of IT Asset Management (ITAM) and IT Service Management (ITSM).

Our remit was to explore the opportunities for managing assets and interacting with ITAM teams whilst maintaining everyday ITSM processes. In particular we were looking to review ITSM tools that offer ITAM functionality or integrate with tools that do – or ITAM tools that provide value to ITSM lifecycles.

I was pleasantly surprised and encouraged by the growing overlap between ITAM and ITSM functionality in the tools reviewed. It was great to see all camps taking advantage of the obvious benefits of ITAM and ITSM integration. It was also refreshing to review technology from all four corners of the globe; including some new vendors that some of our readers might not have heard of yet.

Participants in this “bake-off” were:

Supplier Country of Origin Number of Customers Summary
InvGate Argentina 3,000+ Comprehensive ITAM & ITSM solution with next-generation interface
ManageEngine India 100,000+ A good solid solution for building an integrated ITAM and ITSM foundation.
Matrix42[Best in Class] Germany 900+ Arguably the first vendor to offer comprehensive Enterprise grade SAM within a full ITSM suite
Miradore Finland 500+ A desktop management solution providing ITAM and Configuration Management capabilities and opportunities for automating routine ITSM tasks
SupaTOOLS New Zealand 80 A refreshing alternative to big ITSM tool frameworks at a competitive price.
Virima USA 2 ITAM and ITSM in a competitive package. Detailed inventory for datacenter environments plus key service management functions to be able to turn datacenter insight into action.

Deep Dives:

ITXM – ITAM and ITSM (2+2=5)

What are the benefits of integrating ITAM and ITSM?

The vision for fully integrated ITAM and ITSM is –

  • For ITAM:
    1. Meeting compliance and efficiency goals whilst decisions and changes are being made rather than attempting to clean up mess afterwards, allowing the business to make smart technology choices without booby-traps and with visibility of total cost of ownership.
    2. Allowing users to be productive and have access to the assets they need whilst being compliant.
  • For ITSM:
    1. Offering visibility of asset relationships and costs to facilitate faster incident resolution, proactive problem management and less error prone change management.
    2. Delivering self-service without risks.
    3. Updating asset data on the fly as part of BAU for everyone’s benefit – allowing smarter decision making.

Vendor Summary – Strengths and Weaknesses

Supplier Product Strengths Weaknesses
InvGate Assets and Service Desk Code free configuration / Low consulting requirement No server / service dependency mapping
Strong interface and user experience
Next generation IT Management Tooling
Strong embedded game mechanics
ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus Fully Integrated ITAM & ITSM Lacks polish
Free Version Shortage of specialist knowledge
Use for outside IT department
Matrix42 ITSM Suite and Workspace Management A modern IT management platform with vast platform coverage. Minimal market penetration outside central Europe
ITAM and ITSM mapping from day one
Workflow driven solution – adapt for every process
BYOD, Mobile and Cloud addressed
Miradore Miradore Good offering for Managed Service Providers A good complement for the service desk – but offers no ticketing or core service desk functions.
Light versatile and automated desktop management
Low cost monthly subscription
Good inventory and asset verification offering
Self service software request platform
SupaTOOLS SupaDESK, SupaCMDB Strong CMDB centric ITSM offering Minimal license management capabilities
Cloud, on-premise or flip between two
Well though out design, easy to use
Great relationship views for viewing ALL attributes
Low consulting requirement
Virima Technologies EcosystemManager Datacentre Visibility New software offering, limited existing customers
Turn datacentre insights into service management actions
Ideal for datacentre migration or consolidation
Strong visualisation of dependencies

ITAM & ITSM Integration Review (10)Best in Class for ITAM & ITSM – MATRIX42

We’ve awarded Matrix42 Best in Class for ITAM and ITMS integration for their comprehensive ITAM and ITSM suite.

ITXM – Full ITAM & ITSM integration at last!

“Matrix42 want to be the management layer that sits on top of the services that run IT and claim their key differentiators are strength of integration, automation and speed to value – eschewing the consulting heavy approach of many IT management tool rivals.”

Matrix42 is the closest toolset manufacturer we’ve seen to be able to realize the full ITAM and ITSM vision from one platform. The solution offers both strong ITSM capabilities (verified for eight ITIL processes via a modern interface) whilst also offering depth of datacentre SAM coverage (identifying options and packs enabled for Oracle database). Matrix42 are arguably the first vendor to offer comprehensive Enterprise grade SAM within a full ITSM suite.

Deep Dives:

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.

InvGate for ITAM and ITSM

invgate logo words verticalI recently reviewed InvGate for the ITAM vs. ITSM Integration group test. Below is a summary, read the full review on Tools Advisor here.

Also Participating:

To read the summary, strengths and weaknesses, and criteria please visit this page.

InvGate Assets & Service Desk

Invgate is an Argentinian software company offering Service Desk and Asset Management applications. InvGate claim to have a strong market share in their home Latin American territory and gaining traction in USA and EMEA. The company has over 3000 customers and is ideally suited to organizations between 1,000 and 5,000 employees. InvGate is well placed to take advantage of both smaller organizations that have outgrown cheap and cheerful solutions and larger organizations that are perhaps weary of the large price tag and consulting heavy approach of large enterprise players.

InvGate offer standalone ITAM or ITSM solutions via an excellent interface. This is a strong solution and we found it difficult to find fault with it. One-third of InvGate customers are said to own the Service Desk only, one-third Asset Management only and the final third own both.

A world-class interface and user experience

The stand out differentiator when reviewing InvGate is the interface and user experience. They have managed to capture very technical IT management capabilities and communication of IT data – in a remarkably well-designed interface.

The balance between ITAM and ITSM features, ease of use and flexibility is beautifully executed. This is the future of IT management tools, tackling IT complexity head-on.

Code free configuration and first-class design means customers won’t need to engage with consultants to customize the software or ask for custom fields, they can simply do it themselves.

Getting beyond ITIL process box checking

InvGate includes a versatile and easy to use process engine to build any process, including core ITIL processes – but it’s refreshing to see this requirement take a back seat in favour of pure usability and experience.

This is technology your teams and stakeholders will want to use. The user experience and simplicity of execution is head and shoulders above anything else we have seen.

A game everyone wants to playInvGate Service Desk Assets Integration

Invgate Service Desk has game mechanics and social network elements woven into its design and day-to-day interactions. Customers or end users provide immediate feedback and ratings to interactions within the workflow itself (as opposed to receiving an email later).

Social network elements are executed well, it not just ‘likes’ and ‘feeds’ but provides a visual and easy to understand ‘RACI’ chart of the key stakeholders underpinning each service desk process. Interactions are natural and collaborative whilst meeting process goals.

See also ‘GAMIFICATION: Collecting coins on the service desk’ from 2012.

 


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Read the full review on Tools Advisor here.

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SupaTOOLS for ITAM and ITSM

This independent review is part of our ITAM vs. ITSM Integration group test.

Also participating:

To read the summary, strengths and weaknesses, and criteria please visit this page.

 Commercial Summary

Vendor SupaTOOLS
Product SupaDESK, SupaCMDB
Version reviewed 20150104, released 4th April 2015
Year Founded 2014 (The product was formerly known as easyCMDB developed by Tech Inventions Limited which was founded in 2006)
Customers 80 (Approximately 40% Americas, 25% Australasia, 25% EMEA, 10% Asia)
Pricing Structure
  • SupaCMDB = Number of configuration items to be managed
  • SupaDESK, SupaRELEASE, SupaSTOCK = Number of analysts Priced by managed device per month
  • Available SaaS and on-premise

SupaTOOLS

logo6913229_mdMost ITSM tools were born from a foundation of ticketing and logging incidents. SupaTOOLS, in comparison, was first a CMDB. SupaTOOLS began life as ‘easyCMDB’ in 2006 and has evolved into a well-rounded and competitive ITSM offering.

The founders of SupaTOOLS saw a gap in the market for a robust CMDB solution offering and began developing their CMDB. Whilst SupaTOOLS suite of tools can be used without using the CMDB element, it is clear that CMDB is the foundation and a CMDB ethic of configuration, relationships and connectivity runs throughout the software.

SupaTOOLS is a web-based ITSM solution built around ITIL principles. Customers can choose a Windows or Linux install, with MySQL or SQL Server as a backend repository. Customers can also choose either on premise or SaaS (75% of SupaTOOLS customers install on premise). SupaTOOLS customers can also shift between SaaS on premise as required with many SupaTOOLS customers beginning with a cloud-based setup and shifting to on premise once the installation meets their requirements. Both customers and service management staff can access the SupaTOOLS system via mobile – on iOS and Android.

The SupaTOOLS portfolio consists of four main modules:

  • SupaCMDB – for config. and change management
  • SupaDESK – As the main service desk including Incident and requests
  • SupaRELEASE – A release management offering
  • SupaSTOCK – For inventory, warehouse management and stock control

Despite the SupaTOOLS depth of features we found the interface easy to understand and simple to navigate. Core service desk features included in SupaDESK navigation include service catalogue, incident and problem management, known errors, requests, knowledgebase, incident calendar, business services, service level agreements and reporting.

The SupaTOOLS offering is well thought out with great design. Configuration Managers in particular will love it; it is effectively an extensible database that can be configured to suit any individual customer requirements.

Every attribute of every asset, device or service can be clicked, drilled and viewed to a seemingly endless degree. Customers are never short of being able to see interconnectedness or similarities between any elements. In short, everything is linked to everything else. The relationship view is particularly useful when investigating the relationship between assets, previous incidents and changes and we particularly liked the visual management of racks within datacentres.SupaTOOLS_Integration_Diagram

From a change management perspective SupaTOOLS customers can alter how relaxed they wish to be about changes to the configuration database – from very relaxed to draconian. Settings include:

  • Loose – any data changes are allowed
  • Audit – Notes must be written justifying each change
  • Strict – each change requires a change request

These settings allow customers to increase configuration management discipline and control as their maturity improves or situations require.

SupaTOOLS is built from the ground up as a CMDB for IT departments, but could easily be used to other assets beyond IT. Customization to customer requirements is simple and straightforward and designed to be executed by customers rather than hiring consultants.

Our only criticism of SupaTOOLS is that organizations looking for a comprehensive solution for both IT Service Management and IT Asset Management might find some software license management elements lacking compared to specialist SAM tools, but the depth of visibility and control of datacentre environments will be very useful for Software Asset Managers managing datacentre software publishers.

SupaTOOLS is a refreshing alternative to big ITSM tool frameworks at a competitive price. Built from the ground upwards as a CMDB, it is well-designed and high quality solution for organizations seeking to deliver high-class services and IT management without having to re-mortgage the IT department.

Vendor information – in their own words

“SupaTOOLS

SupaTOOLS is a web-based IT Service Management solution based on the ITIL standard. SupaTOOLS comprises 4 main modules that deliver different processes:

  • SupaCMDB – Configuration and Change Management
  • SupaDESK – Incident, Request and Service Management
  • SupaRELEASE – Advanced Release Management
  • SupaSTOCK – Inventory Management 
All of the above modules can be combined into a single database to provide a fully integrated solution. This allows the customer to pick only the functionality they require and gives them the flexibility to add more at a later date.

SupaTOOLS is available as either a Cloud (SaaS) based service or on-premise install. It supports both Windows and Linux platforms running either MySQL or SQL Server back-end.

Most importantly, SupaTOOLS includes an extremely flexible database schema and UI, allowing the customer to tailor the CMDB to record any asset type and brand the UI according to their own requirements.

This can typically be achieved by the customer with minimal additional cost and involvement from the supplier. 
Our customers use SupaTOOLS can be used in a variety of ways, ranging from providing a fully featured and integrated Service Desk, to an Asset repository with integrated Change Management.

Tools are included to rapidly populate the database from spreadsheet data, which is where many of our customers start from. But equally SupaTOOLS can replace multiple existing disparate systems with a centrally trusted ‘source of truth’ 
We pride ourselves on being very attentive to our customer needs, and responding quickly to all customer queries. Many of our customer suggestions and wishes get included in future releases so that all can benefit.”

 

ManageEngine for ITAM and ITSM

This independent review is part of our ITAM vs. ITSM Integration group test.

Also participating:

To read the summary, strengths and weaknesses, and criteria please visit this page.

Commercial Summary

Vendor ManageEngine; a division of ZOHO Corp
Product ServiceDesk Plus
Version reviewed 9.1
Year Founded 2002
Customers 100,000+
Pricing Structure By Technicians / Assets (Nodes) Available On premise and SaaS

ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus

ManageEngine is a division of Zoho Corp, a privately owned Indian software company with 3,000 employees.

Zoho’s divisions include:sdp_high_res_logo

  • ZOHO – CRM, email and back office functions
  • WebNMS – Network management framework
  • ManageEngine – IT management tools

ServiceDesk Plus from ManageEngine includes a service desk offering and asset management features. ManageEngine claim that ServiceDesk Plus has over 125K deployments in over 100K customers and is used in 186 countries in 29 language variations.

A core differentiator for ManageEngine is delivering IT management tools at a fraction of the price of their enterprise IT management rivals.

 

ServiceDesk Plus Editions

ServiceDesk Plus is available in Standard, Professional and Enterprise editions.

In summary: 

  • Standard Edition (Free): Free software for Incident Management, providing self-service and a knowledgebase. Aimed at the first rung of the ladder of ITSM and getting organizations organized for free.
  • Professional Edition – As per the Standard Edition plus asset scanning and Software Asset Management capabilities.
  • Enterprise Edition – The full suite (Incident, problem, change, asset, service catalogue, CMDB and IT Project Management). Billed as ”ITIL ready helpdesk software with Asset and Project Management”.

The free version from ManageEngine is a bold move to capture market share. There are no limitations on number of agents or tickets raised. ManageEngine state that they provide this free software as a way of giving back to the ITSM community.

Complementary Tools from ManageEngine

The full ManageEngine product portfolio includes:

  • Datacenter & Server Performance
  • Network Performance
  • Log Analysis and Security
  • Desktop and Mobile Device
  • Application Performance
  • Active Directory Management

And for the purposes of IT Asset Management and IT Service Management complementary products to ServiceDesk Plus include:

  • AssetExplorer – Standalone Inventory Management Software
  • Social IT Plus – An internal private social network for IT
  • SupportCenter Plus – Customer facing customer support software

 

Asset Lifecycle Embedded within ITSM  

Asset dashboardServiceDesk Plus includes asset discovery of all IP devices directly into the service desk based on agent based or agent-less scanning. All software and hardware information is recorded and managed for each asset.

Once IT assets are inventoried, administrators can group and manage assets by their preferred criteria or attributes. Asset status can also be assigned for easier visibility of assets in use such as ‘in repair’, ‘disposed’, ‘in use’ and so on. Asset managers can assign contracts and maintenance expiry dates to certain assets and manage them throughout their lifecycle, including non-IT assets.

ServiceDesk asset scanning also includes recording of software usage metering, so with effective policies and management ServiceDesk Plus customers can remove software waste and ensure they only pay for software being used. Organizations can also monitor the usage of restricted applications to support the enforcement of IT policy and to mitigate information security risks.

ServiceDesk Plus include Software Asset Management (SAM) features including the management of various license types such as CAL, concurrent, subscription and node locked licensing.

However ServiceDesk Plus should be considered a basic solution for organizations getting started with the management of desktop SAM. In particular – recognition of software is manual, so administrators must manually scan; move applications to managed status and then manually check for accuracy. This will be very labour intensive for medium to large organizations managing hundreds if not thousands of applications.

The real strength of an integrated suite such as ServiceDesk Plus is the asset register and inventory records all living within service management lifecycles.

ITAM and ITSM Integration

ServiceDesk Plus provides a holistic view over both ITAM and ITSM functions and provides a good integration between the two disciplines. Customers can pin problematic assets to service requests, problems and changes and drill down to see the relationships and inventory history for each asset associated with service.

There is a seamless link between asset and service allowing service managers to see how assets perform during a change, plan changes by viewing impacted assets or troubleshoot troublesome assets by analyzing all the incidents, problems and changes associated with assets.

ServiceDesk Plus has no current integration with Microsoft SCCM, a market leader in desktop deployment. Competitive solutions integrate with the patch and deployment lifecycle, although ManageEngine do offer their own integrated solution in the form of Desktop Central as an alternative to SCCM.

ManageEngine report that around 20% of their customers have taken ServiceDesk Plus beyond the IT department to functions such as HR, maintenance, facilities and travel. So there is clearly scope for expanding the initial value and investment in ServiceDesk Plus well beyond the IT department and providing automation and efficiency gains.

Lacks Polish

Customer - software dashboardManageEngine lacks some of the sophistication and polish of their ITSM market competitors, and lacks the depth compared to specialist ITAM players – but nonetheless is a good solid solution for building an integrated ITAM and ITSM foundation.

ManageEngine has an enormous portfolio of products. This diversity is reflected in their ITAM and ITSM offerings, which sometimes show a shortage of specialist knowledge. However for organizations seeking to build a service management platform with inbuilt asset register at a competitive price ServiceDesk Plus should be on your shortlist.

Vendor information – in their own words

“ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus for ITAM & ITSM

ServiceDesk Plus is web-based help desk software built on the ITIL framework with over 125,000 deployments in more than 100,000 organizations. ServiceDesk Plus is SMB affordable help desk software loaded with enterprise features. It can be the right fit for organizations that are looking for to organize their IT help desk without having to spend huge dollars.

ServiceDesk Plus enables an easier service delivery to the end users with a range of easy code-free customizations starting from the user interface. Automation ranging from ticket handling to automated notifications in ServiceDesk Plus help increase productivity of the technicians. ServiceDesk Plus has minimal learning curve and is easy to learn for both the technicians as well as the end users thereby ensuring a faster ROI for service desk teams.

The native mobile apps provide anytime, anywhere access to the technicians to create, edit, assign, and close requests. ServiceDesk Plus delivers the right insights on the help desk performance s with canned and custom reports, and real time dashboards. ServiceDesk Plus is also scalable for organizations of different sizes. The key features of ServiceDesk Plus include: –

  • Incident Management
  • Problem Management
  • Change Management
  • Asset management
  • Project Management
  • Purchase and Contract Management
  • Self-Service Portal
  • Knowledge Base
  • Automated Workflows
  • Multi-Site Support
  • 150+ Canned and Custom Reports
  • CMDB
  • Real-Time Dashboards
  • Service Catalogue
  • User Survey
  • Native Mobile Apps

The standard edition of ServiceDesk Plus with the basic help desk functionality is completely free without any restrictions on the number of end users, technicians, or requests. The main objective is to eliminate the cost of decision-making for small organizations and enable them to take their first step towards an organized IT and streamline their incident management process.”

Product Information: https://www.manageengine.com/help-desk-software.html

Online demo: http://demo.servicedeskplus.com

Matrix42 for ITAM and ITSM [Best in Class]

ITAM & ITSM Integration Review (10)I recently reviewed Matrix42 [Best in Class] for the ITAM vs. ITSM Integration group test. Below is a summary, read the full review on Tools Advisor here.

Also Participating:

To read the summary, strengths and weaknesses, and criteria please visit this page.

Matrix42-Corporate-Logo-300ppi

Arguably the first vendor to offer comprehensive Enterprise grade SAM within a full ITSM suite

 

ITXM – Full ITAM & ITSM Integration at last

We first reviewed Matrix42 back in 2010, when we assessed that the German IT management tool provider had strong ITAM, ITSM and Systems Management capabilities. Five years on and Matrix42 is as competitive as ever, a modern IT Management platform with vast platform coverage.

Matrix42 want to be the management layer that sits on top of the services that run IT and claim their key differentiators are strength of integration, automation and speed to value – eschewing the consulting heavy approach of many IT management tool rivals. Existing customers range from mid-market to very large enterprises.

Enterprise Grade SAM within ITSM

Many ITSM tool providers pay lip service to ITAM. Adding a few inventory fields with incidents or offering database level integrations between tools. Matrix42 is arguably the first ITSM suite to offer fully integrated enterprise grade ITAM capabilities.

The vision of fully integrated ITAM and ITSM is:

  • For ITAM
    • Meeting compliance and efficiency goals whilst decisions and changes are being made rather than attempting to clean up mess afterwards.
    • Allowing users to be productive and have access to the assets they need whilst being compliant.
  • For ITSM
    • Offering visibility of asset relationships and costs to facilitate faster incident resolution, proactive problem management and less error prone change management.
    • Delivering self-service without risks.

Matrix42 is the closest toolset manufacturer we’ve seen to be able to realize this vision from one platform. The solution offers both strong ITSM capabilities (verified for eight ITIL processes via a modern interface) whilst also offering depth of datacentre SAM coverage (Identifying options and packs enabled for Oracle database).

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Miradore for ITAM and ITSM

This independent review is part of our ITAM vs. ITSM Integration group test.

Also participating:

To read the summary, strengths and weaknesses, and criteria please visit this page.

Commercial Summary

Vendor Miradore
Product Miradore
Version reviewed V4.1 (released June 2015)
Year Founded 2006
Customers About 40 service provider customers, servicing about 500 end customers and about 450,000 devices
Pricing Structure Priced by managed device per month

Miradore Desktop ManagementMiradore-Logo300dpi_RGB

A desktop management solution providing ITAM and Configuration Management capabilities and opportunities for automating routine ITSM tasks.

 Miradore was formed in 2006 when three IT specialists working at the Finnish pulp, paper and timber manufacturer, UPM, couldn’t find a suitable solution in the market for their IT infrastructure management requirements. Miradore now has customers in 70+ countries and over 450,000 devices under management.

Miradore is a Desktop Management solution for Windows, OSX and Linux providing ITAM and Configuration Management capabilities and opportunities for automating routine tasks in ITSM lifecycles.

A key route to market is Managed Service Providers who harness Miradore for monitoring and managing client environments. MSP business partners include global integrators such as Fujitsu to local specialists such as Tieto.

A key differentiator for Miradore is providing a light, versatile and automated desktop management solution to partners and end user organizations that find larger frameworks such as Microsoft Configuration Manager too expensive and labour intensive to implement.

Miradore provides partners an easy to use console for visibility and management of client environments via a low cost subscription.  Managed Service Providers can easily see what devices they are supporting and the status of each device to facilitate efficient support.

Miradore also offer a SaaS based Mobile Device Management called ‘Miradore Online’ for the management of iOS, Android and Windows Phones. This provides asset location, technical specification, security settings and installed applications for connected devices. We trialled the system using Apple’s Device Enrolment program and found it remarkably easy to use.

Miradore’s product naming conventions are not obvious and those browsing their website could be forgiven for getting completely confused which product is which. Perhaps calling the products Miradore Desktop Management and Miradore MDM would be more straightforward.

Miradore_screen 1

Self-Healing ITAM

Miradore offers comprehensive device monitoring and management features including:

  • Asset discovery and SNMP scanning for other network devices such as printers, switches and routers
  • Hardware and software inventory for Windows, Linux, OS X
  • Connection to Miradore’s ‘Miradore Online’ MDM solution for management of iOS, Windows Phone and Android devices
  • Power Management and centralized management of endpoint back up
  • Device monitoring, alerting and reporting
  • Automated tasks based on rules e.g. Create an incident in the service desk based on an alert
  • Remote control, operating system and software installation, patch management
  • Asset update service
  • Quality index reporting
  • Software license management including normalized inventory, software usage tracking and a software request catalogue

We particularly liked the asset update service, allowing Miradore customers to confirm the continued ownership of assets and keep their asset and ownership details fresh. The service checks-in with end user customers to ask, “Do you still own these devices?” then provides a workflow for administrators to eyeball and verify any changes.

We also found the quality index reporting a powerful reminder of key metrics and a refreshing change to the usual reporting dashboards found in IT management tools.

Quality index reporting allows Miradore customers to set thresholds for key ITAM or Configuration Management performance metrics as asset visibility or anti-virus coverage. This reporting, presumably driven from Miradore’s SLA driven MSP partners, is great practical use of asset data to improve ITAM quality over time rather than generic dashboard.

Automation and Empowering Self-Service

Miradore_screen 2From an IT Service Management perspective, Miradore is a great complement to a broader service desk solution and provides great asset data to empower service management processes.

Miradore’s close device monitoring and management capabilities allow alerting on the service desk to enable proactive problem management by generating tickets based on device events, or highlighting mismatching configurations of devices, or simply identifying changes.

Similarly, Miradore’s self-service software request catalogue allows customers to select software, seek management software, and for the software to be deployed to the end user’s device – without the need for service desk agent intervention.

Finally, Miradore’s remote control facility will be a useful utility for the service desk. Features include screen sharing, controlling mouse and keyboard, file transfer and drawing tools.

In summary, Miradore is a good all round solution for desktop management and configuration management to support the service desk, especially for those organizations looking for a simpler and easier to use solution to Microsoft Configuration Manager.

Vendor information – in their own words

“Miradore

Miradore was born when three IT specialists working for a global paper giant UPM needed a better way to manage their own IT infrastructure. Since none of the existing configuration management solutions did not address the challenges they faced in a company with 20,000 workstations in over 30 countries, they decided to create their own. The pilot project and full-scale roll out was a success, and so in 2006 they left UPM to found Miradore Ltd. And naturally, UPM became Miradore’s first customer.

Today Miradore provides a mature and feature-rich product for managing different types of IT devices throughout their entire lifecycles. This is done by collecting accurate and up-to-date information from devices, automating device management activities, and integrating Miradore easily to overall ITSM toolset.

Miradore is committed to continuous improvement and thereby strives to further improve the product, focusing especially on utilization of cloud technologies, easiness of implementation and use, and mobility.”

Nexthink V6 Review

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I reviewed Nexthink earlier in the year, worthy winners of our ITAM Excellence awards for Innovation. Check out a summary of Nexthink below or read the full review on Tools Advisor here: http://www.toolsadvisor.net/tools/nexthink

Nexthink V6.0

Nexthink is a pioneer of end-user IT analytics. This review takes a look at the core capabilities of Nexthink, the route to market for the company, competitive strengths and weaknesses, and market reach.

 A new paradigm in IT Management Tools

Nexthink is perfectly placed to take advantage of the IT industry trend towards end-user centric computing, hybrid IT and analytics. Nexthink provide a sophisticated solution for visualizing IT infrastructure from an end-user perspective in real-time and over time.

This is a next-generation solution for forward thinking organizations focused on transforming the end-user experience, proactive identification of probable causes before end-users flag them as issues and generally increasing service quality.

Key Capabilities Table:

KEY BUSINESS CONCERN  KEY ISSUES  NEXTHINK – KEY CAPABILITIES
IT Operations Service quality gap between what IT believes its delivering and end-user experience View service quality from an end-user perspective
Majority of incidents are not reported by end-users Proactive Problem Management via end-user analytics
Demand to release applications at faster cadence Measure service quality before, during and after App deployments
IT Projects Stale or incomplete inventory Real-time analysis of IT Infrastructure
Lack of insight into project delivery Real-time visibility during App deployment and baseline service quality before and after
Inaccurate, out of date or failed CMDB implementations Continuous automated relationship and connectivity mapping in real-time
IT Security Poor visibility of IT infrastructure and connectivity CCTV-like experience recording real-time and historical
Zero-day exploits and rogue behavior Real-time monitoring and alerting of unauthorized or abnormal application and connectivity activity
BYOD and end-user centric behavior End-user centric relationship and connectivity mapping

Major Product Components – Nexthink V6

  • Collector – continuous real-time monitoring creates a ‘highlight reel’ of each endpoint and end-user.
  • Engine – continuous real-time analytics and alerting, discovery and dynamic pattern analysis to identify anomalies.
  • Finder – real-time visualization and ability to smart search, pivot on data / findings, look for patterns, and create custom investigations, alerts and actions.
  • Portal – near real-time visualization and historical trend analysis, sophisticated custom dashboards that include metrics, goals, thresholds, and status indicators.

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Virima Technologies for ITAM and ITSM

EM_Logo_01-06-2015a-(highres)

I recently reviewed Ecosystem Manager from Virima Technologies for the ITAM vs. ITSM Integration group test.

Below is a summary, read the full review on Tools Advisor here.

Also Participating:

To read the summary, strengths and weaknesses, and criteria please visit this page.

In Summary

EcosystemManager from Virima is a new addition to the ITAM and ITSM IT management tools market. We were impressed with EcosystemManager; it offers both detailed inventory for datacenter environments plus key service management functions to be able to turn datacenter insight into action.

ITAM + ITSM in a Competitive Package

If your organization is considering migrating or consolidating datacenters or migrating to cloud infrastructure – EcosystemManager is definitely worth further investigation. It would also be extremely valuable for those looking for comprehensive datacenter visibility to support compliance goals.

EcosystemManager includes both ITAM and ITSM functions integrated into one product.

High-level product feature overview:

  • Asset Discovery – datacenter discovery, inventory, relationship mapping, asset register and CMDB
  • Infrastructure – configuration audit trail and management, change and release management, project management
  • Service Desk – Incident, problem, self-service and knowledge management, request

EcosystemManager Asset MapView (1)

 


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Read the full review on Tools Advisor here.

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Please share your opinion for the benefit of others.

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