Review: LANDESK Service Desk (Best in Class)

This independent review is part of our Self Service Market Review.

Also participating:

Commercial Summary

Vendor LANDESK
Product LANDESK Service Desk
Version reviewed 7.8
Date of version Release January 2015
Year Founded 1985
Customers 1000 worldwide
Pricing Structure IT-Users, fixed or concurrent license (ability for customers to mix licenses). Premise or SaaS Delivery. Unlimited End Users.

(Also alternatively available as part of LANDESK Total User Management package which is End User licensed only, unlimited IT Users)

Review

Elevator Pitch This is an excellent fully functional ITSM and wider IT Management suite of products, presented with a number of well-embedded links and functional capabilities.
Industry areas It’s aimed at the larger/Medium to Enterprise IT organisation and provides simple to use and user-friendly interfaces and options – e.g. workflow.
Unique points
  • Provides good standard ITSM across the board, plus some innovative features
  • Provides a good deal of automation to remove unnecessary tasks – e.g. adding screen print is simple so that this is not time consuming
  • New USP functions promised
Target market Medium to large enterprise.

Enterprise organisations looking to do integrated ITSM, good for user experience and self service and provisioning.

Solutions/ issues solved Excellent technical integration for auto-provisioning and other IT management functions – SSO, password reset etc.

A number of examples of client built screens and styles, genius bar integration – mobile interface, Chat.

Product/vendor gaps Some social interfaces not in product but these are available via partners – XMatters and Nexthink.
Positives
  • System automaton – run book automation – with service desk
  • Enterprise app store
  • All language codes supported for mobile and end user experience – Self Service set in the language of the user
  • Graphical workflow tool looks easy to use and build without code
  • Workspace – Overlay product that ties together multiple separate area of expertise – single presentation layer rather than having to switch between interfaces. Place you go to do your job
  • Self service embeds in SharePoint – with API
  • Simple button to switch between analyst dashboard and external view
  • Ability to provision software directly – e.g. with adobe, plus costing
  • Single sign on 3rd party authentication
  • Chat – support process with workflow, can create incident problem and change – direct link from self-service to change
  • Simple integration with remote control functions
Negatives
  • Social interfaces not in the product
  • May be overkill for smaller organisations – Self Service not available standalone
Overall view A good fit for high function ITSM and customer experience – particularly for their target market.

They should continue to gain market share because they are continually renewing with industry trends and innovations, whilst still providing strong basic functionality, e.g. moving to collaborative working using ‘workspaces’.

Vendor information

LANDESK-logo-RGBLANDESK’s self service capability empowers workers 24/7 from anywhere with instant access to the services and resources they need, when they need them. The solution offers a consumer-style experience that frees users to help themselves easily. You improve the relationship with your end-user customers and boost their productivity and that of IT staff with minimal effort.

  • Users can log and track issues, search knowledge to help themselves, reset passwords, and collaborate through IT social discussion
  • Users can see and request the services they’re entitled to. Automate software and service deployment for zero-touch provisioning
  • Follow the same IT processes tied to SLAs as if users were calling in. Offer a consistent support experience regardless of the route to the service desk.
  • Easy access from anywhere through an app from the Apple App Store for iOS, through Google Play for Android mobile devices, or through a responsive web app.

Screenshots

 

 

Review: Samanage for Outside IT 2014

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Samanage

This independent review is part of our Outside IT Review.

To download the full report as a PDF please visit : http://download.itassetmanagement.net/outside-it/

 

Executive Summary

Elevator Pitch Vendor pitch is around speed of implementation and lack of need for technical input and ease of use.
Strengths
  • Native Cloud application and all clients on current version – simple for non-IT people to implement without IT infrastructure requirements
  • Implementation is focussed on lack of need for training and consultancy – based around ‘intuitive’ product, using videos and other media
  • Vendor (relatively new to market) reports selling and winning against traditional IT service management (ITSM) products on capability, ease of use and ease of implementation – with experience of non-IT implementation
Weaknesses
  • Workflow tool does not have graphic presentation which may be an issue for non-IT users in particular
  • SMB focus – limited implementation experiences in larger enterprises
Primary Market Focus According to the information provided, Samanage primarily targets the midmarket

Commercial Summary

Vendor Samanage
Product Samanage
Version reviewed n/a – continuous deployment
Date of version Release n/a
Year Founded 2007
Customers 500+
Pricing Structure For service desk, prices start at $1,000 per service desk technician for service desk and $12 for each computer asset for Asset Management
Competitive Differentiators
  • Agile and continuous deployment model – customer always on latest version and updates protected
  • Code free deployment using user-friendly interfaces means fast time to value
  • Integrated and simple to use Service Desk and asset management modules aims to save time for agents

Independent Review

Product

In The ITSM Review’s opinion, the solution has a clean interface, which appears to be straightforward and easy to use. Workflows can be built simply using drag and drop.

The solution offers a useful feature to ask for help across IT on tickets without requiring escalation. Good practical usability for scanning tickets – ‘Eye’ function allows scan of details without need to open ticket.

Marketing

Samanage states that the product can be easily developed to provide work management and admin functions beyond IT – e.g. HR, Finance, Purchasing etc. However, no current off the shelf Outside IT applications are marketed/offered.

Current focus is on existing IT customers with a view to up-selling to internal departments at a later date. This means that there is no focus on Outside IT in external marketing activities, however this may change in the future as the company evolves.

Sales Strategy

Growing business replacing legacy on-premise solutions as well as low-end SaaS competitors. Focus on demo or trial early in new engagements with prospective customers as to allow user experience and ease of use to do the selling.

Current Use

Limited implementation experience in large and enterprise markets, with a limited global reach at present compared to established competitors. Some existing bespoke applications built for HR, payroll, purchasing.

In Summary

Samanage offer a SMB focussed ITSM solution that looks to be easy to implement and develop and, according to the vendor, has been used by several organisations for functionality beyond IT. We believe that Samanage is a good competitively priced option for small-to-medium sized looking for general ITSM capabilities.

In The ITSM Review’s opinion, Samanage needs to focus on developing its presence in the ITSM market and find a suitable niche either directly in IT or as a bridge to other Service Management areas. Samanage is currently competing against whole market and this may not be sustainable. The brand could be developed to be more service-specific.

In their own words

“Samanage provides the only true multitenant, unified service desk and asset management cloud solution on the market today. For our customers, that translates into the fastest time to value, higher ROI, outstanding service, and most importantly happy end users. Samanage customers enjoy an “always new” application without ever having to perform any maintenance functions.

Our revolutionary user interface delivers an unmatched user experience, allowing customers to fully deploy a robust IT Service Management (ITSM) solution in less than 2 weeks, easily expand beyond IT, and maximize adoption. End users are empowered through an easy to use self-service portal, and technicians have a full-featured platform available at their fingertips on any device.

Customers achieve instant value with Samanage because they are operational immediately and able to go live in days…in less time than it takes to evaluate other solutions. They have instant, accurate visibility into all hardware and software assets, no matter where assets are located. And because our service desk and asset management is on a unified platform, customers are able to easily connect their people, services, and assets all through the same UI. Visually stunning in-app analytics also enable rapid trend detection and easy access to actionable information.

Samanage’s goal is to help customers deliver a superior service experience to their end users, and real value throughout their organization by improving asset control, empowering end users, and maximizing resources.“

To download the full report as a PDF please visit : http://download.itassetmanagement.net/outside-it/

Review: TOPdesk for Outside IT 2014

Logo-TOPdesk-Service-Management-Simplified-CMYK-300x105

TOPdesk

This independent review is part of our Outside IT Review.

To download the full report as a PDF please visit : http://download.itassetmanagement.net/outside-it/

 

Executive Summary

Elevator Pitch TOPdesk offers ‘out-of-the-box’ service management solutions, with standard configurations and integrations for ease of use
Strengths
  • Product is already been used by existing customer base for shared services
  • Product appears to be very user-friendly and simple to build upon and develop for varied use
  • Contains many out-of-the-box templates for internal/organisational functions, e.g. ordering company car, request cleaning etc.
Weaknesses
  • Sales approach based around assumption of shared services rather than supporting IT to grow collaborative approach
  • Limited marketing and sales focus on ‘enabling IT’ – demo based on standard IT service management (ITSM) application which can then be modified
  • Tailoring/configuration looks relatively complicated and limited for end users
Primary Market Focus Based on the information provided, TOPdesk markets to organisations ranging from small (-100 users) to very large, multi-national customers (10,000+ users)

Commercial Summary

Vendor TOPdesk
Product TOPdesk
Version reviewed 5
Date of version Release 2012
Year Founded 1993
Customers 4000+
Pricing Structure The licensing structure is based on the number of end users that the customer wishes to support with the software. This structure allows customers to have an unlimited number of agents, operators and technicians working on the tickets themselves. Both on-premise and SaaS options, hosted by TOPdesk, are available.
Competitive Differentiators
  • Native web-based tool and vendor with broad experience of service implementation across different business areas
  • Licensing structure based on the number of end users rather than system users
  • Product has an excellent ‘multi-tenancy’ approach – a multiple process view to manage shared services across departments and processes – good for field service management and Managed Services Providers

Independent Review

TOPdesk is an established vendor with good global coverage. The solution is primarily used for standard ITSM, but many customers also use the tool for Field Service and Shared Service management.

In The ITSM Review’s opinion, the product looks user-friendly and straightforward to build and develop for varied use. Furthermore, the ‘Forms Design Module’ looks easy to use to build applications with intuitive non-technical skills, which can then be taken forward by people outside traditional IT operational areas.

Marketing

Marketing is primarily focused on ‘Shared Services’, as well as ITSM/service desk, with limited marketing focus around enabling IT, although strong positioning on ease of use and bespoke Outside IT experience.

Sales Strategy

In our view, TOPdesk could do more to promote the success and evolution of its IT/ITSM customers via collaboration – this would be especially useful as more market players focus on enabling IT. From what we experienced, its sales and demo approach seems to take shared services for granted, rather than exploring current and future needs.

Current Use

According to TOPdesk, 63% of customers are currently using the solution for shared services or Outside IT functionality, with good experience and examples provided of product being used for HR, Finance, Sales and Marketing. Customers currently using the solution outside of IT include KLM, University of Edinburgh, and Calor Gas.

In Summary

We feel that TOPdesk is a good offering for mid-sized organisations for both Service Desk and ITSM requirements. Furthermore, we believe that those organisations who already know what they want to achieve with their Outside IT plans would benefit from this solution. The solution is also an excellent offering for Field Service Management, Manager Services and shared services providers.

A key opportunity for TOPdesk, in our opinion, is to develop and promote more standard non-IT functionality and experience around their offerings, in order to compete with the expanding Service Management market.

In their own words

“TOPdesk develops ITIL-aligned Service Management Software for IT, Facilities Management, and eHRM helpdesks and is among the top five service management tools offered worldwide. Our award-winning solution, along with our ITIL verified consultants and outstanding customer support has helped over 4,000 unique customers to process questions, complaints and malfunctions. With over 20 years of service management experience, we have assisted businesses, to optimize their services with our 100% web-based and user-friendly application. TOPdesk’s modular structure accommodates a wide range of requirements from different sized organisations. TOPdesk can be hosted as a Service or can be installed on-site. All products include: extensive reporting options, clear overviews and a handy Plan Board for planning your resources. Every day, millions of users across 47 countries trust in TOPdesk as their service management solution. Raising your service levels and reducing your workload and costs have never been easier.

TOPdesk offers out-of-the-box service management solutions, therefore standard integrations, configuration and other imports are all covered by the implementation process. Our customers are able to customise their TOPdesk system, by choosing the modules, processes and functionalities they actually require. We aim to reduce service desk agents’ stress and reduce their workload by applying a well-defined, standardised, yet configurable and flexible service management tool. This is why TOPdesk is modular in structure, allowing customers to add new processes as they grow.

TOPdesk offers Enterprise and Professional products meeting requirements of every type of organisation from small businesses to large, multinational companies. The framework for both products includes our revolutionary resource management planner, the Plan Board and the Task Board that displays daily workflow and the intuitive Dash Board for reports and KPIs.”

To download the full report as a PDF please visit :http://download.itassetmanagement.net/outside-it/

Review: Outside IT 2014

OutsideITTo download the full report as a PDF please visit : Outside IT 5th August 2014

This is a competitive review of software vendors who offer Outside IT capabilities as part of their IT service management (ITSM) solution.
Products reviewed:

 

Outside IT 2014 – Best in Class

ServiceNow(R)_logo_STANDARD_RGB_226px_122012(1)[1]

In The ITSM Review’s opinion, ServiceNow is an excellent option for large-and-very large sized businesses looking to achieve synergy and efficiency of cross-departmental operations, as well as flexibility in their IT and wider non-IT shared service operations. Furthermore, we believe it is an excellent option for large and very large organisations implementing service management and work automation across and beyond IT.

We feel that ESM is a strong and forward-thinking message and an excellent opportunity for real success through ITSM and wider service management and automation. In our opinion, this is a stronger and more sustainable message than ServiceNow’s earlier focus on Cloud/commercial models, community and flexibility (although useful and helpful) as the ESM message transcends IT and straddles business areas and can finally take ITSM to a C-Level audience for sales and delivered value.

In our view, continued expansion via the ESM message and product capability for Global Enterprises should be the ServiceNow goal, possibly with some options on how to take this message to the mid-market market in future.

Overview

This report has been unusual in terms of a normal industry product/vendor review – for two reasons:

  1. The initial review criteria were quite generic (by necessity) and to some extent vague (i.e. “what have you done with your product outside of IT?”) and
  2. The results and outcomes are not particularly (or only) related to functionality or product capability – and this relates strongly to marketing, positioning and implementation approach.

As a review of what vendors can or are doing with their (ITSM) products outside of the IT and ITSM operational area, this review had to be somewhat open-ended, giving the participating vendors specific requirements to follow, but also opening up the options for them to show us what else they can do and are doing outside of IT. This includes not just options on software functionality but also how the vendors are positioning themselves in the market.

Each vendor in this report provides ITSM tools that can be used to build forms and workflow based automation for administration of ‘back-office’ work, this includes: managing workloads; requests; automating approvals and escalations; automating spreadsheets and other databases centrally to remove risk; provide customer service and call centre tools; manage work schedules; provide knowledge repositories, calendars, reports dashboards and customer portals etc. In addition, they each provide this functionality in a modern, social, mobile and intuitive ‘connected’ environment that can be quickly implemented and maintained with minimum technical resources.

So what are the differences between the vendors in this report? How can we distinguish and identify differentiators, pros and cons between them? If all products can be used to develop work automation, logging and escalation/ownership and tracking of tasks etc., does this mean that the differences between vendors go beyond simple software functionality? This review looks at how to differentiate the vendors’ approach for beyond IT across the ITSM market.

Industry Context

There has been a move in recent times to develop more applications and tools that can cross the boundaries of internal service departments. The ITSM toolsets available have helped to drive practice in this area, in particular service catalogues, service portals, automated fulfilment processing, approvals etc. and for many organisations this is a huge opportunity for IT to be the department of solutions and success rather than simply the folks who say ‘no’ all the time.

Most manufacturers of ITSM tools report that their sales engagement process usually now involve the inclusion of non-IT people as the norm which has happened historically although not consistently with many vendors also reporting the fact that, once their ITSM tool has been successfully implemented, their clients in IT then help to ‘sell on’ the wider use of the toolsets within and across their own organisations.

Much of this has been driven by the opportunities offered via Cloud solutions and also via assorted sourcing options. However, the barriers between IT and its internal customers/departments are now also breaking down such that, finally, there is the appreciation that the overall needs of the organisation they support can be met via a ‘supply chain’ approach rather than a siloed one. Commoditisation of IT has led to greater awareness of, and demand for, proper end-to-end solutions and collaborative working. Toolsets are the final piece in this jigsaw, as they offer simple and effective solutions for this.

Opportunities for IT organisations

This is therefore a time of huge opportunity for IT organisations to re-invent themselves and to show their true value to the organisations that they serve. This moves away from just being inward-looking and self preserving around their own (IT) processes but to also being the facilitator, catalyst and ‘solution superheroes’ for the whole organisation. This can help to develop efficiency and remove risk by automating manual and single point of failure processes and systems, e.g. spreadsheets that still provide key business functions.

IT can show leadership in their own businesses if they grasp the nettle and use the skills they have developed via ITSM and the associated toolsets, relationship management, value-demonstration, service monitoring, and cost management. It’s the time and opportunity to take ITSM to the next level and IT organisations and their people are best placed to deliver this.

Client maturity

Whilst this sounds exciting, there is also the question of maturity and awareness, and this brave new world cannot apply across all organisations evenly. There are those IT organisations that have the maturity and drive to take their knowledge and skills forward to capitalise on these opportunities. These organisations will respond well to vendor positioning and messaging around business-led IT and the value of service management beyond IT.

However, there are also many (probably most) IT organisations that don’t yet have the vision, awareness, bandwidth and ITSM maturity to do this.

This is where intelligent use of new sourcing models can help to ensure that IT is moving with the times and delivering in response to needs and not just “treading water” and “sweating assets”.

These organisations will also be at risk of being by-passed in the sales process of forward thinking vendors who can then sell direct to other service areas (not IT) with their products and solutions. Vendors with mature implementations and good client relationships can also develop these accounts to “sell inwardly” as mentioned, and get the message across about collaborative working – with variable success depending on their ability to reach and get the right messages to the C-Levels working in their clients.

The new world of corporate collaboration

The message here for the vendor market – and in the context of this review – is therefore that ITSM vendors wishing to retain and increase their market share into new areas need to consider the positioning of their products in a wider context than just IT.

Products and vendors that only focus on internal IT – sold to internally focussed IT departments who don’t see the opportunities for collaboration – will be at risk, or at least will risk falling behind in the long run. There may be continuing opportunities for relatively straightforward ITSM-only sales in the short-term, but ultimately this will not be a sustainable strategy.

Vendors also need to be clear on how to reach non-IT people where necessary, as well as having clear strategies for up-selling their products beyond IT in existing and new accounts. Overall they will need to be clear as to the extent to which they take and promote these messages – from presenting either a business-focussed/business-enabled solution, to an IT-internally-focused only approach.

So whilst there is still a lively traditional ITSM ‘core market’ that vendors can focus on – where the prospects may not be interested in Outside IT (i.e. applications and their focus is solely on ITSM) – there is also a longer-term and potentially larger opportunity around selling to the wider organisation.

Clearly for vendors this requires some strategic decision making around positioning and marketing, with some implications around sales approach and targeting. This in turn may have significant cost and structural implications for vendors, and some may not have the resources to meet these requirements.

So the traditional sale to mid-management IT Operations may be simpler and easier in the short-term, but longer-term vendors may need to rethink their sales and marketing approach, collateral, and even the language used in the sales process.

So how do we evaluate the current Market?

The four vendors who participated in this review all have the capabilities to provide additional functionality outside of the ITSM/IT area and they also all have varying levels of customer adoption of this. These vendors cover a broad spectrum in terms of size, capability, and corporate coverage and their focus reflects this. All vendors also have different sales and marketing approaches to the concept of Outside IT. Details and examples of their individual offerings are shown below.

All four vendors can deliver non-IT applications with varying levels of toolkits, engagement approaches, and turnkey offerings.

 

To download the full report as a PDF please visit : http://download.itassetmanagement.net/outside-it/

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 the ‘Group Tests’ section, on our Disclosure page.


The ITSM Review are holding a series of seminars this year headed by ITSM superstar Barclay Rae. We will be starting in March with Transforming User Experience – Enterprise Service Management & Self Service. For more information click here

Event Review, itSMF India Annual Conference, Bangalore

itSMF India held their 2nd annual conference at the Vivanta Hotel in Bangalore on the 5th November. My quick video review is below.

Some thought provoking presentations, interactive panel sessions and great simulation exercise to finish the day. Congratulations to Suresh GP and the itSMF India team for an excellent conference and thanks for inviting us.

Unashamed commercial plug: Suresh GP (Our courteous host in India and all round good egg) has left the HP ITSM team to venture out in the world of independent consulting.

Quick Video Review

Social

Gallery

Suresh GP leading an expert panel of Indian ITSM leaders
Suresh GP leading an expert panel of Indian ITSM leaders
Full house of 140 delegates
Full house of 140 delegates
Worldwide ITSM experts discuss demonstrating value
Worldwide ITSM experts discuss demonstrating value
Kaimar Karu from Axelos provided an interesting and modern view of ITSM best practices
Kaimar Karu from Axelos provided an interesting and modern view of ITSM best practices
Srinivasan Thiagarajan from Cognizant provided an interesting perspective on modelling for business outcomes.
Srinivasan Thiagarajan from Cognizant provided an interesting perspective on modelling for business outcomes.
Arvind Parthiban from ManageEngine provided some practical approaches to Change Management in the real world.
Arvind Parthiban from ManageEngine provided some practical approaches to Change Management in the real world.
James Finister from TCS evangelising about the value of culture in outsource relationships and growing importance and development of SIAM.
James Finister from TCS evangelising about the value of culture in outsource relationships and growing importance and development of SIAM.
Parvinder Singh from Quint led an excellent management simulation
Parvinder Singh from Quint led an excellent management simulation

Visit http://itsmfindia.in/ for updates on future events.

Nexthink V5 Review for Proactive Problem Management

This is part of a competitive review of software vendors who offer Proactive Problem Management capabilities as part of their IT service management (ITSM) solution.

Other products reviewed:

Commercial Summary – Nexthink V5 Review

Vendor Nexthink
Product Nexthink V5
Version reviewed 5.2
Date of version Release July 2014
Year Founded 2004
Customers +500
Pricing Structure Perpetual and subscription licences for both Nexthink Analytics Platform and Nexthink Analytics Modules. All priced per number of devices/endpoints.

Executive Summary

Elevator Pitch Nexthink V5 is an intelligent and attractive solution.Providing far more than proactive problem management, Nexthink delivers extensive analytics and intelligence capabilities in a user-focused manner.
Strengths
  • Ability to search in normal non-IT language (natural language, plain English, google-like experience)
  • Ability to compare objects and contextual situations in order to troubleshoot
  • Robust visual impact analysis
Weaknesses
  • No ticketing facility within the solution but has API and connectors to integrate with
Primary Market Focus Based on the information provided, Nexthink is primarily a large-market solution

Independent Review

nexthink-logoNexthink V5 is a highly sophisticated solution yet still manages to look clean and simple. In contrast to the other solutions reviewed within this group test Nexthink does not contain any ticketing functionality and is wholly an analytical tool. However, it does have the necessary API and connectors to integrate with ticketing tools to create proactive alerts and track actions taken upon its analytics.

Proactive problem management is provided by monitoring the end-user experience and reporting back on real-time events. Dependencies and relationships are recorded without the need to install additional monitoring tools.

Nexthink is about discovering what you don’t know by learning and detecting what is different to the norm. In a time when event notification overload can cause more harm than good, Nexthink uses context to ensure that only pertinent info is alerted…

i.e. If you leave your car unlocked a normal monitoring tool would send an alert regardless, however if you were parked within a locked garage Nexthink would be able to apply context to recognise that this is not alert worthy (or less critical).

My impression of the solution is that it would be suitable for all medium to large enterprise organisations of medium to high proactive problem management maturity.

I believe that this highly developed solution could provide organisations with the visibility and insight into not only proactive problem management but also big data generally by only collecting summary activity data and related issues rather impractically expecting IT departments to mine through everything or make decisions on what is, and what is not important.

General

User configuration possible for:

Forms

Tables

Workflows

Dashboards

N.B. every form and workflow can be customized through the admin module

  • Nexthink is a standalone analytics and intelligence solution which integrates with ticketing tools. It does not contain it’s own ticketing capabilities
  • Full integration toolkit. Data can be imported into and out of Nexthink in various ways to serve many different purposes. More info: http://www.nexthink.com/integration/
  • Templates and pre-filled forms and structure available for basic starting point from Nexthink library, a cloud based platform for collective intelligence
  • Web API
  • Existing standard integrations with Service Desk solutions such as LANDESK, ServiceNow, BMC Remedy, EasyVista and PMCS Helpline.

Identification

The integration of end-user IT analytics for incident and problem management is driven from the service desk. Nexthink helps align incidents and problems and enables the service desk to identify outage-problems in real-time and configuration-change-problems faster. In other words Nexthink can fast track incident to problem identification and help provide probable cause to solve problems and/or provide suitable workarounds before (further) incidents recur.

Nexthink’s internal technology assists in the identification of potential proactive problems via

Self-learning, topological relationships, base lining, benchmarking, statistics & heuristics.

Nexthink states that their solution, without configuration or definition of a potential problem can discover what’s in-use, understand the dependencies (process, devices, ports, services, server, cloud domain, etc.) and profile a baseline to further identify deviations e.g. connection is getting slower or failing for a specific group of users.

Information about the context of any identified proactive problem is displayed on Nexthink user interfaces (Finder and Portal). Portal is a web-based dashboard platform where specific widgets can be added to see the past, current and potential future impact of a change, a growing issue or an outage, including break-ups by departments, and type of problems (devices, network/infra, web requests, servers, etc.).

Nexthink specify that integration with network and server monitoring solutions is not necessary for their analytics to perform and deliver but welcome such integrations to create a full end-to-end visibility with both user-centric (outside-in) and server-centric (inside-out) visibility and analysis. They maintain that the solution is able to identify anomalies in data patterns resulting from configuration changes without the aid or knowledge of those changes and that it’s more efficient and effective to use the many diagnostic tools available within the solution to do root cause analysis.

Assessment and Alerting

Nexthink calculates an objective risk assesment via the end-user perspective. Their argument is that this positions users to compute an impact analysis from a business point of view because they will already have information such as the department, job role, location of affected users and are therefore using business language rather than IT speak i.e. you are not saying x router interface was flapping for 10min, dropping xxx packets, but rather 15 users from our Finance department attempted to use SAP without success for 10 minutes (while the 45 users from sales didn’t have any issues).

Nexthink also provides the ability to compute based on current activity, e.g. if we shut down these 10 servers now, 120 users currently connected to these servers with these 10 applications will suffer and this equals, based on each application business criticality, a business loss of £££. Based on feedback we receive from readers this functionality is highly sought after yet sadly lacking from many solutions. We believe that this functionality provides solid value to potential customers. Analytics provides the ability to push the concept of proactive problem management to preemptive and predictive.

Although there is no ticketing tool available within Nexthink, by analyzing all end-users’ activity collectively and centrally the solution is able to apply mechanisms and algorithms to understand if the problem is on the device, user, application, network/infrastructure or server side enabling the problem to be routed to the most appropriate group using the integration interface or finding the solution looking at the Nexthink Portal or Finder.

Implementation  

Tracking and management of the lifecycle of a proactive problem would have to be provided by an integration with a third party ticketing tool. However, new/updated information can be fed into the third party tool to notify about a situational change, i.e. the problem has increased in severity.

Auditing and Accountability

Nexthink gives the option to visually display an impending breach/breach of an SLA by colouring the issue yellow/red within the widget, building a history trends graph, triggering an alert or exporting context (what, when, where, what, how long, how badly) to a third party tool. Gives the context and impact of the breach (what, when, where, what, how long, how badly).

In Summary

Nexthink provides a comprehensive analytics and intelligence solution which provides far more than Proactive Problem Management capabilities. What’s more it provides them in a user-focused way which is quite different to the majority of other solutions on the market that are all data centre focused.

I believe that this solution would create huge value to any organisation looking for real-time end-user analytics.

In Their Own Words:

Nexthink is the innovator of End-user IT Analytics for security, ITSM and transformation. Our software uniquely provides enterprise-wide, real-time: analytics covering all endpoints, users, applications and network connections; and visualization of IT infrastructure and service delivery. Nexthink helps IT departments connect, communicate and collaborate to achieve their major goals and to optimize endpoint security, operations, support and workplace transformation projects. Nexthink’s real-time analytics and visualization extend help desk, server monitoring, APM (application performance management) and PCLM (PC lifecycle management) tools and provide essential visibility for IT governance.

Nexthink pro-actively monitors IT networks and reports on important end-user related events, such as changes in the IT infrastructure, application usage and bandwidth, error messages and crashes, as well as potential security risks, ensuring that the performance of IT services is recorded and uniquely visualized from the end-user perspective.

Screenshots

Freshservice Review for Proactive Problem Management

This is part of a competitive review of software vendors who offer Proactive Problem Management capabilities as part of their IT service management (ITSM) solution.

Other products reviewed:

Commercial Summary – Freshdesk FreshService Review

Vendor Freshdesk Inc.
Product Freshservice
Version reviewed n/a
Date of version Release n/a
Year Founded 2010
Customers 1200
Pricing Structure The licensing structure is based on the number of agents. Freshservice is a SaaS only offering

Executive Summary

Elevator Pitch Freshservice is an uncomplicated and attractive ITIL service desk solution.The simplicity of Freshservice allows customers to provide basic proactive problem management services whilst easily linking to the other areas of the solution.
Strengths
  • Simple easy to use interface
  • Easy linkage between processes
  • Proactive suggestion of possibly related records when creating description
Weaknesses
  • Internal monitoring within the solution could be improved
  • Financial management capabilities require extending
  • Lack of automation in areas such as setting records as proactive
Primary Market Focus Based on the information provided, Freshservice is primarily a small to mid market solution

Independent Review

freshservice-logoFreshservice is a straightforward solution for users with straightforward needs. Simple and easy to use, the drag and drop workflow and form templates make for an easy set up of proactive problem management as well as the main solution.

Problem management is dealt with in much the same was as incident within the solution and although this will be perfectly acceptable for the majority of Freshservice’s customers those with more mature proactive problem requirements will likely find that this solution lacks the automation they will expect. The addition of automation to distinguish between the different types of problems would be useful together with the ability to smartly decide which problems are, in actual fact, a problem. The issue many IT teams are experiencing at this time is not that events and alerts are not being received but that so many are received that it is difficult to sort through to find the ones that actually matter. If Freshservice can master this then their worth to their customers would dramatically increase.

The ability to set a “book value” for a particular type of asset is a useful feature, providing the ability to report on those assets that are perhaps experiencing continued faults to see whether continued endeavour is of benefit, I would like to see this area expanded to help track the cost of faults. My impression of the solution is that it would be suitable for all small to large organisations of low to medium proactive problem management maturity. For the vast majority of these organisations, I believe that Freshservice has all the functionality required to perform proactive problem management to a successful level. However, if your organisation is likely to grow in the near future then I believe a more sophisticated solution would be suitable. The number of manual actions required within the solution would be counterproductive to organisations with large numbers of reported proactive problems.

General

User configuration possible for:

Forms

Tables

Workflows

Dashboards

N.B. every form and workflow can be customized through the admin module

  • Open API
  • Existing standard integrations with Event Management tools such as Nagios and Solarwinds
  • Default forms and structure as basic starting point
  • Easy linkage between Problems and other types of tickets (i.e. Incident)
  • Proactive solution suggestion as ticket details inputted
  • Implementation support available

Identification

Freshservice defines the difference between a reactive and proactive problem management record within the solution by the addition of a “known error” tag next to the problem subject. This is done manually by agents within the Problem Module and then provides the ability for reports to be run on “known errors”. I would like to see the ability for Freshservice to automatically recognise these and tag accordingly without the need for the manual process. For organisations receiving large numbers of proactive problems I imagine this would become quite an onerous task. Freshservice’s internal Discovery probe is able to scan networks to populate the CMDB and is able to monitor the available disk space of relevant items.

Freshservice advise that although currently this is all that is able to be monitored, additional capabilities are to follow. Alerts from monitoring and networking tools such as Nagios and Solarwinds, which can be integrated via existing standard integrations, can be sent to Freshservice using Email commands and then automatically create a record within the solution.

Assessment and Alerting

Freshservice calculates an objective risk assesment of the proactive problem and is able to flag this against an associated CI as low, medium or high (colour coded) depending upon how the CI’s business proprity has been set. Assets are able to be attached to all proactive problem records with the importance of the asset viewable from within the record screen.

The solution also contains a basic visual relationship map for impact assesment. Freshservice is able to manually route proactive problems to relevant resolver groups by assigning the particular record to the respective group or agent from the Problems module, alternatively workflow rules can be used to automatically assign records to assign proactive problems to resolver groups or agents. Once a group or user has been assigned an email notification will alert the relevant people.

Implementation  

Freshservice provides the ability to link records to each other in one click. Workflow rules within the system can be utilized to provide the ability to update all linked records upon the update of the problem record. All file types and in solution notes can be attached to a proactive problem record ensuring that all relevant information is available to agents. Changes of status are possible by the use of a dropdown box within the record screen. Although there is no ability to set individual assets and CI’s as unavailable, the solution can be used to advise users of planned outages using both email and the self-service area. In the future I would like to see the ability to set items as unavailable, when affected by a fault that causes it to be so, in order that users can easily see the state of the item. Freshservice state that their customers main need is automatic notification when there is an issue and as a result I believe that development of this area would be very beneficial to both them and their customers.

Auditing and Accountability

Freshservice’s simple workflow rules can be utilised to set thresholds to notify of impending SLA breaches to both individual users and groups. Escalation emails can also be set to once breach has taken place. Each asset has a history of all requests associated with it – problem, change, release etc. that can be viewed after the request has been closed.

In Summary

Freshservice provides basic yet capable functionality for use by users with low to medium proactive problem management maturity. If you’re after bells and whistles such as sophisticated visual service mapping then this is probably not the solution for you, however, if you are after a good basic package, with ticketing, that has the proactive problem management essentials then Freshservice is a good option.

In Their Own Words:

Freshservice is an online ITIL service desk with a fresh twist. It puts a refreshing user experience on top of powerful ticketing and asset management capabilities, and is the most user-friendly app in the space.  In addition to core functionalities like Incident, Problem, Change, Release and Asset Management, Freshservice also lets you put your knowledge base on the cloud. Freshservice offers a plug and play ITIL solution for organizations looking to align themselves to best practices without getting any expert implementation help. It has been developed by the team of experts behind Freshdesk, the leading customer support software that is currently being used to support over 5 million customers across the world.

Screenshots

ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus Review for Proactive Problem Management

This is part of a competitive review of software vendors who offer Proactive Problem Management capabilities as part of their IT service management (ITSM) solution.

Other products reviewed:

Commercial Summary – ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus Review

Vendor ManageEngine
Product ServiceDesk Plus
Version reviewed 9.0
Date of version Release September 2014
Year Founded 2004
Customers 85,000 (25,000 paid)
Pricing Structure Pricing is based on the number of technician login (named technicians) and the number of assets managed by the application.  License is issued both on Annual Subscription as well as Perpetual models.

Executive Summary

Elevator Pitch ServiceDesk Plus is a solution that contains the ability to carry out problem management but is immature with specific regard to proactive problem management.The attraction of ServiceDesk Plus is the ability to open several instances of the solution at the same time ensuring multitasking is possible whilst providing easy linkage between records.
Strengths
  • Proactive problem management records link with other record types
Weaknesses
  • No automatic suggestion of knowledge base articles, workarounds etc
  • Relationships and services require entering manually within CMDB
  • Does not seem to clearly separate proactive from reactive problem management
Primary Market Focus Based on the information provided, Service Desk Plus is primarily a small to medium-market solution

Independent Review

sdp_logoServiceDesk Plus is a solution heavily dependent upon manual input within the proactive problem management area.

The manual operation required within ServiceDesk Plus, especially the CMDB, means that for organisations with anything other than basic IT infrastructure there is going to be a lot of time and effort involved in mapping relationships and services in order to make troubleshooting easy within the solution as every time a change is made to the network or asset configuration relationships and services will need to be remapped. If however you are content to do this and your primary concern is with procuring a tool that pulls this information in and logs tickets then ServiceDesk Plus will be adequate.

My impression of the solution is that it would be suitable for all small organisations of low proactive problem management maturity.

For these organisations I believe that ServiceDesk Plus has the functionality required to perform proactive problem management. However, if your organisation is likely to mature in the near future then I believe a more sophisticated solution would be suitable. Having said that if ManageEngine were to increase the amount of automation in areas such as relationship management it would appeal to a more mature audience.

General

User configuration possible for:

Forms

Tables

Workflows

Dashboards

  • Drag and drop templates
  • API’s available to integrate with third party tools such as event management
  • Default templates and admin configuration wizard for quick install
  • Implementation support available

Identification

ServiceDesk Plus defines the difference between a reactive and proactive problem management record within the solution by providing the ability to add an additional drop down field within the problem template called “Create Problem Additional field” which allows the manual assignation to either Reactive or Proactive. I would like to see the ability for ServiceDesk Plus to automatically recognise the distinction and assign accordingly without the need for the manual process. For organisations receiving large numbers of proactive problems I imagine this would become quite an onerous task.

ServiceDesk Plus does not contain any internal technology to assist in the identification of proactive problems. It can however integrate with OpManager, the ManageEngine event and network monitoring software through a standard integration and third party event and network monitoring software via the open API.

Alerts from monitoring and networking tools can be sent to ServiceDesk Plus to automatically create an incident ticket. In order for this to be created as a problem record, reactive or proactive, the ticket must be manually changed. In the future I would like to see the ability for problem records to be created automatically cutting down on time and manpower for customers.

Assessment and Alerting

In order for ServiceDesk Plus to calculate an objective risk assesment of the proactive problem relationships such as what/who is affected by each item will need to be manually built within the CMDB. Once this is done the solution does have the ability to visually notify of an issue with an asset by displaying an exclamation sign within the relationship map.

The problem with this process, as with all manual relationship creation, is that what was correct yesterday may well not be correct tomorrow. In order for this are of the solution to work for any but the smallest most basic of organisations to work without high overhead in both time and manpower then this really needs to be automated.

ManageEngine state  that there is no current ability within ServiceDesk Plus to automatically alert or route proactive problems to relevant resolver groups. They have however mentioned that by using Business Rules and Problem Closure Rules that there may be ways to manually create these processes.

Implementation  

ServiceDesk Plus provides the ability to easily link records to each other but there is currently no ability to change the status of a proactive problem record.

When updating a proactive problem record with linked records it is possible to copy problem solutions and workarounds to all associated incidents. It is also possible to close all associated incidents from the problem record.

ManageEngine state that notes, .doc, .docx and .xls formats are able to be attached to a proactive problem record within ServiceDesk Plus. I would like to see this extended in the future to include image formats for easier troubleshooting.

Currently there is no provision to record availability and capacity information within ServiceDesk Plus, however, as a workaround, ManageEngine have suggested additional fields can be created within “problem additional fields” to denote stock availability. Although the solution can be used to advise users of planned outages using both email and the self-service area, in the future I would like to see the ability to set items as unavailable, when affected by a fault that causes it to be so, in order that users can easily see the state of the item.

Auditing and Accountability

ServiceDesk Plus workflow rules can be utilised to set thresholds to escalate upon breach of both response and resolution time.

Each record has a history associated with it – problem, change, release etc. that can be viewed after the request has been closed.

In Summary

ServiceDesk Plus provides a very basic and mostly manually driven proactive problem management offering.

I feel that this solution would be more suitable for those organisations looking for reactive problem management capabilities with the ability to integrate event/alert monitoring. If ManageEngine were to invest in creating more automated features in the proactive problem area, such as auto update from CMDB, the solution would appeal to a much wider and more mature audience.

In Their Own Words:

ServiceDesk Plus is a help desk software with integrated asset and project management built on the ITIL framework. It is available in 29 different languages and is used by more than 85,000 companies, across 186 countries, to manage their IT help desk and assets. ServiceDesk Plus comes in three editions. First is Standard edition which covers the IT help desk module. The standard edition is completely free forever with no restrictions on tickets, users or tech agents. Available free both on-premise as well as Cloud. Next is professional edition, which comes with help desk management along with Asset management. And finally, the third is Enterprise edition which covers professional edition and adds ITIL and project management. The ITIL modules include Incident, Problem, Change, CMDB and Service Catalogue. In addition to all the modules, ServiceDesk Plus also comes with Purchase and Contract Management.

http://www.manageengine.com/products/service-desk/sdp-editions.html

Screenshots

Alemba vFire Review for Proactive Problem Management [BEST IN CLASS]

This is part of a competitive review of software vendors who offer Proactive Problem Management capabilities as part of their IT service management (ITSM) solution.

Other products reviewed:

Alemba vFire Review – Commercial Summary

Vendor Alemba Ltd
Product vFire 9.1
Version reviewed 9.1
Date of version Release 2011
Year Founded 2007
Customers 350
Pricing Structure Currently vFire is sold as a perpetual licence for concurrent and dedicated agent users, the customer interface is supplied as an unlimited licence.

Executive Summary – BEST IN CLASS for Proactive Problem Management

Elevator Pitch vFire 9.1 is a strong and uncomplicated proactive problem management solution.The solution provides advanced capabilities allowing customers to take advantage of many automated features to make problem management less painful.
Strengths
  • ‘Find causes’ functionality takes a good portion of the leg work out of troubleshooting
  • Ability to simulate an outage to show possible impact to business
  • Good visual display of CMDB showing related items and services
Weaknesses
  • While the dashboards are easy to create and contain a good choice of information they are not the best looking
Primary Market Focus Based on the information provided, vFire 9.1 is primarily a large-market solution

Independent Review

Alemba LogovFire has provided strong proactive problem management functionality without becoming too complicated and will appeal to those who like their tools to have that databasey look and feel.

Alemba have understood that proactive problem management is a useful and valuable process and not just somewhere to plonk all those annoying event alerts that come in. One of my favourite capabilities of vFire is the ability to set outages and use these in conjunction with rules to stop alerts being received at all. With the typical issue being that serious issues are missed due to over alerting I find this both refreshing and immensely useful and know a few people who would rip their arm off for this kind of functionality within a tool.

Additional useful functions include the ability to simulate outages to show what kind of impact to the business could be expected in the event of a outage and the one-click ‘Find Causes’ facility which shows all items and services that could be the cause of a failure. Both of these provide powerful automation and I imagine that current customers of the solution wonder how they ever managed without.

My impression of the solution is that it would be suitable for medium to large enterprise organisations of all levels of proactive problem management maturity.

General

User configuration possible for:

Forms

Tables

Workflows

Dashboards

  • Drag and drop workflow design
  • User defined dashboards
  • 188 out of the box reports available
  • Existing standard integrations with monitoring tools such as SAM and SCOM
  • Default forms and structure as basic starting point
  • Known errors and outages displayed on customer portal bulletin board
  • Easy linkage between Problems and other types of tickets (i.e. Incident)
  • Proactive solution suggestion as record details inputted
  • Implementation support available

Identification

vFire defines the difference between a reactive and proactive problem management record as:

  • Reactive – the manual creation of a problem record through a call or request being logged.
  • Proactive – the automatic creation, assignment and notification of a problem, created from either a defined criteria set and pattern recognition or generated from an external source if a problem is identified.

The Proactive Problem Management Module is underpinned by the Entity Based Relationship Model which creates on-the-fly custom queries via a dynamic sql query engine. This is polled by the Proactive Analysis service on a schedule configured as part of the analyse rule.

Proactive problems are identied on pre-defined, pattern based modelling via a simple wizard based interface. A rule to monitor either calls or requests can be automatically created when a criteria set is matched.

Criteria can include:

  • existing or new data
  • specific counts or percentage thresholds
  • attributes from calls, workflow, availability, CMDB and SLM

Selection Criteria can be as simple or complex as per business requirements using Boolean logic.

Any output from the proactive problem management module falls under the calls or workflow modules. This allows all functionality and usability of the calls and workflow modules available to entities created via the proactive problem management module, but can still be identified as an automatically generated problem and linked to entities that caused the problem’s creation

Assessment and Alerting

vFire calculates an objective risk assesment of the proactive problem by graphically displaying the CMDB architecture showing the linked CI and all affected, or partially affected CI’s and services allowing investigation by users and enabling problem managers to gauge the extent of the problem, the risk it poses and what immediate and medium term actions are required.

I was impressed that vFire goes a step further than some of the other visual assessment aids featured in this review by providing visibility of the end-to-end relationship of CIs and Services ensuring that the holistic impact of current outages can be viewed. The same mechanisms can also be used to simulate the impact if a planned outage is scheduled.

vFire is able to alert relevant users and resolver groups to a proactive problem at any point in the Problem Lifecycle, (create/edit, resolve, close) via the configuration of rules within the solution with similar mechanisms in place to manually add/remove users or groups at any point in the problem lifecycle.

Implementation  

vFire provides the ability to link records to each other with one click. The solution enables the parent record to cascade updates such as status changes to all linked child records.

Attachments can be added to Problem records and stored as a linked object of the Problem record. There is no limitation to the attachment file type.

The status, or any attribute of a Problem can be set when it is initially logged and then falls under standard calls functionality where call status (e.g. open, in progress, resolved, closed) can be selected at any point in the Problem’s lifecycle.

Availability of CIs and Services associated with a Problem record can have their availability tracked. This includes any scheduled downtime, the targeted availability of the CI or Service, any planned or unplanned outages and the overall performance of the CI or Service against targeted metrics. Failure management is essential for any reliable operation and I believe that vFire have provided good capabilities for doing so.

Auditing and Accountability

vFire has a number of escalation levels prior to a SLA breach occuring. These are displayed graphically on the call, i.e. red for breach, and on each escalation and recipients can be configured to receive a breach notification. Recipients can be a user, a group or another stakeholder.

The solution contains the ability to suggest Knowledge Base articles and Known Error information that may relate to a proactive problem record via the Service Window which is available in all call windows. This provides real-time calculations based on the calls information and looks for similar records.

A matching matrix is provided which will show potentially matched items based on a number of criteria such as the linked CI or Service.

All Problem report data is retained in the database once resolved or closed

In Summary

vFire provides very good functionality for users with all levels of proactive problem management maturity.

vFire provides more automation than most of the other solutions reviewed and goes the extra mile with regard to fault finding and diagnosis via it’s graphical interface. I believe that this solution would be a good option for most medium to large enterprise organisations.

In Their Own Words:

vFire is an Enterprise level IT Service Management Software tool made by Alemba. As the successor to VMware’s Service Manager product (formerly infraEnterprise), Alemba’s vFire has inherited over 20 years of industry knowledge and offers a truly innovative User Interface that puts customer experience front and centre.

vFire offers support for implementing and delivering ITIL best practices. vFire provides out-of-the-box ITIL functionality for all major ITIL processes including: Incident, Request Fulfilment, Problem, Service Level, Knowledge, Change, Release & Deployment, Service Configuration & Asset, Service Catalog and Availability Management.

Key features:

  • Mould the system to your own requirements with flexible configuration options and a powerful screen designer.
  • Easily deploy an integrated, actionable Service Catalog that aligns IT activities to business services.
  • Publicize Service expectations and reduce the impact of service outages on business operations.
  • Effortlessly discover and map inter-dependencies between infrastructure components, applications, and business services, across both physical and virtual environments through Federated CMDB connectors.
  • Monitor and report performance against Service Level Agreements and Service Availability targets, to demonstrate the value IT provides to the business leveraging third party event management tools.
  • Easily model and automate your organization’s business processes in a powerful workflow builder which can be used to automate any IT or non-IT processes.
  • Ensure processes are carried out in a consistent, best practice manner that adhere to audit and compliance requirements.
  • Ensure that ITIL processes implemented are tailored to meet your site specific needs

Screenshots

Change, Configuration and Release Review – The results (2014)

CCRThis is a competitive review of software vendors who offer Change, Configuration and Release capabilities as part of their IT service management (ITSM) solution.

Products reviewed:

Change, Configuration and Release 2014 Best in Class

ITinvolve has taken huge strides in the ITSM arena with Service Manager by embracing the adage “knowledge is power”.  We feel that the developments that ITinvolve Service Manager has made with the fundamentals of knowledge and collaboration, ensuring that all relevant information is available to the right people at the right time (and in a straightforward way), enables risk assessment capabilities that far outweigh those of other ITSM solutions. This provides increased value to its Change, Configuration and Release capabilities.

Change, Configuration and Release Review Best in Class: ITinvolve
Change, Configuration and Release Review Best in Class: ITinvolve

The way that these capabilities support and mold Change, Configuration and Release creates a product that gives control, intelligence and awareness back to the IT organisation.

Offered as a SaaS-only solution, ITinvolve states that Service Manager integrates with discovery products, and we feel proactively delivers timely and relevant information whenever needed.  The solution greatly reduces the burden on staff and ensures risk can be quickly and accurately assessed.

Best for On-Premise

For those organisations looking for Change, Configuration and Release capabilities in an on-premise solution then Cherwell Service Management® would be our recommendation (please note that Cherwell Service Management® is also available as a SaaS solution).

We believe that Cherwell Service Management® has the functionality the vast majority of organisations require to operate an efficient and successful management of Change, Configuration and Release processes.

Introduction

The only thing constant in life is change, and this is never truer than in an IT organisation.

In order to get a handle on the myriad of modifications and developments occurring within IT many organisations turn to frameworks, such as ITIL, for guidance on best practice.  Change, Configuration and Release Management are three processes that group together favourably and are a valuable continuance for businesses unsure where to progress following successful adoption of Incident, and in some cases Problem Management.

  • Configuration Management is the process used to track individual Configuration Items (CIs) and the way in which they interact with one another
  • Change Management is the process used to track and communicate any changes in service that may impact the customer, such as when systems are taken offline for updates
  • Release Management is the process of managing software releases from development right through to release

Each process can be used individually, but more often than not you will find these processes intertwined.  For example, when considering either a Change or Release you will need to know the CI’s that will be affected before you begin.

As listed above it is ITSM Review’s opinion that Configuration should come first.  We believe that if you can get Configuration right then Change and Release will be infinitely more straightforward.  Establishing that any prospective ITSM tool can record all information for a CI in an easy-to-document-and-locate approach will minimise risk both to individuals and the organisation as a whole.

Too often we see cases where needless mistakes occur during the management of Change and Release due to critical information not being easily accessible.  Upon investigation the result is usually that the documentation was circulated and then filed away with the expectation that it would be read in infinite detail and re-read upon any future modifications of said item.  There are several issues with this:

  • There is a finite amount of time in a day to read the multitude of documents one comes across
  • There is a finite amount of storage within a brain to remember which items have related documents squirreled away
  • People only know what they know

You can blame individuals after mistakes occur by stating that documentation should have been sought out, or you can employ processes that take the guess work (and leg work) out of the equation in conjunction with using an ITSM tool that offers up the information to the right people at the right time.

In this review we have looked at a range of ITSM products covering Change, Configuration and Release Management, targeting all market sizes.

Market Positioning (Target Market Size)

For the purposes of this review, vendors were classified based on their primary market focus, and product capabilities.

Vendor Small Medium Large Very Large
Axios 0% 0% 75% 25%
Cherwell 1% 14% 65% 20%
ITinvolve 0% 75% 12.5% 12.5%
TOPdesk 35.32% 53.63% 10.47% 0.54%

Approach

Vendor On Premise/Saas Separate Release Module Discovery Tool own/Third Party
Axios Both No Both (version dependent)
Cherwell Both No Both
ITinvolve Saas No Third Party
TOPdesk Both No Both (version dependent)

Competitive Overview

Vendor Elevator Pitch Strengths Weaknesses
Axios Axios assyst is a solid, mature and well-rounded tool marketed towards organisation with 1,000+ end users.The functionality and design of assyst provides the ability to manage both simple and complex workflow processes to support the management of change and request.Available both as a SaaS solution and on premise – with concurrent and named licenses – assyst provides a flexible model to fit around your business.
  • Relationships between configuration items, services and users are clearly displayed via a visual impact explorer
  • Drag and drop calendar functionality
  • Easy to collaborate on changes etc., reducing the need for the use of external software
  • Requires experience and an increased investment in time to implement release management if your existing process is complex
Cherwell Cherwell Service Management is a functionality-rich and user-friendly tool.The flexibility of Cherwell Service Management allows customers to automate existing change and configuration processes without the need to compromise the status quo to fit around the tool.With Cherwell Choice concurrent licensing and flexible hosting model, you can choose what works best for your business — Pay-as-you-go or perpetual license,.  Hosted on-premise, by Cherwell or by a third party.
  • Offers multiple ways to achieve the same outcome (e.g. creating a change request) meaning that users can work whichever way best suits them and their requirements
  • Mature change calendar with drag and drop functionality and ability to create changes direct from the calendar view
  • Robust collision detection
  • Requires experience and an increased investment in time to implement release management if your existing process is complex
ITinvolve ITinvolve Service Manager is a progressive and ambitious product.Uniquely combining knowledge capture, analysis, and social collaboration, Service Manager proactively delivers timely and relevant information whenever needed.  The solution greatly reduces the burden on staff and ensures risk can be quickly and accurately assessed.Saas based, Service Manager is licenced per user with an additional annual cost for the platform.
  • Advanced and proactive delivery of knowledge
  • Dynamic identification, analysis and engagement of changes
  • Key settings can be recorded against individual items/objects and are immediately obvious from all areas of the application
  • No drag and drop or create functionality from within the calendar
TOPdesk TOPdesk 5 is a visually pleasing and easy to navigate tool.TOPdesk’s modular structure accommodates a wide range of requirements from different sized organisations. All products include extensive reporting options, clear overviews and a handy Plan Board for planning resources.Web-based hosted as a service or on-site Service Management software, TOPdesk has made the transition from IT into Facilities Management and HR.
  • Tabbed working (ability to have more than one active record open at a time)
  • Attractive GUI which will be appealing to the wider business
  • Form Designer is not available to customers of the Professional version
  • No drag and drop capability on change/release calendar
  • Blackout and maintenance windows not created against Configuration Item (CI) or Service but instead in the Event and Actions module

Customers

customers-graph

Analysis

Vendor Functionality Competitive Differentiators Analysis
Axios Mature, well-rounded tool covering the larger end of the ITSM market with solid change, configuration and release functionality with strong risk assessment capabilities.
  • All ITSM process integrated into one app – non-modular
  • Visual Impact Explorer provides clear graphical views of infrastructure and relevant relationships
  • Drag and drop change/release process design
Assyst offers solid change, configuration and release functionality with strong risk assessment capabilities. I therefore believe that it is a good offering for both large and enterprise organisations with moderate to mature change processes in place.
Cherwell Functionality rich and user friendly tool ensures that no matter how you want to do something you’re likely to be able to do it.
  • Fully integrated management processes that are 100% configurable against an organisation’s current and future service request models, without the need to write a single line of code via programming or scripting services
  • Integrated Platform as a Service (PaaS) technology to empower users to easily develop and deliver integrated business services offerings
  • Quick, easy, and seamless system upgrades, as well as low cost of ownership for on-going system management overheads
Unless you are an organisation with advanced or complex release management requirements, I highly recommend that you consider Cherwell Service Management as your tool of choice.
ITinvolve Progressive, ambitious and agile product with exceptional use of knowledge and collaboration to underpin Change, Configuration and Release as well as all other processes.
  • Comprehensive understanding of not only configuration dependencies but also compliance and key settings
  • Dynamic identification and engagement of all relevant change stakeholders with facilitated collaboration and risk assessment prior to formal change approval workflows
  • Knowledge is proactively delivered to IT staff in the context of the change/release being created/worked on
Despite the lack of drag and drop and create option functionality from within the calendar, regardless of the size of your organisation I strongly believe that you can’t go wrong with considering ITinvolve Service Manager as your ITSM solution for Change, Configuration and Release.
TOPdesk Modern, attractive and easy to navigate tool which is likely to appeal to the wider business as well as IT.
  • Integrates multiple support processes into a unified system, which can be used by the wider business
  • Licensing structure is based on the number of end users rather than operators
  • Comprehensive and modular solution that allows customers to add new processes as they grow
If you are a purely reactive IT organisation, of basic to moderate maturity, with a low to medium number of change requests, then the Enterprise or Ultimate offering of TOPdesk 5 would be a suitable candidate for your organisation.

Deep Dive

Further details for each vendor can be found by using the links below:

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 the ‘Group Tests’ section, on our Disclosure page.