SIM209: System Center Service Manager: Automating ITIL and MOF

This session covered how System Center Service Manager 2010 really integrates many of the System Center components to allow an organization to follow industry best practices, such as ITIL and MOF. Without an integrated solution, it’s really hard automate these processes to reduce operational expenses and meet defined SLAs or customer expectations. Later in the week there was a Service Manager 2012 sneak peak session, which showed even more integration points such as VMM 2012 and Orchestrator 2012. I’ll cover that session in another blog post.

Highlights of this session include:

  1. Service Manager is the power of integration. It brings together Operations Manager, Configuration Manager, Active Directory, and Opalis (renamed Orchestrator). On top of these products it layers a single configuration management DB (CMDB), workflows, a portal, data warehouse, and forms.
  2. SM supports many processes, but not the entire stack found in ITIL or MOF. The processes it does support include risk management, compliance management, service asset & configuration management, change management, knowledge management, incident management, problem management, event management, request fulfillment, and service level management.
  3. First up is the Configuration Management process. The SM connector framework to AD, SCCM, SCOM allows automatic identification of configuration items (CI) in the environment. Regular synchronization makes sure the data (CMDB) is up to date. An audit trail is maintained for each CI.
  4. Second is up is Incident Management.  Incidents are ‘daily fires’ that the service desk puts out each day. Incidents are not part of the standard operation and need to be addressed as quickly as possible. Incidents can be opened automatically by SCOM, from DCM (Desired Configuration Manager) non-compliance, email from an end user, phone call, or the web portal. You can categorize incidents, assign an impact and urgency. Impact + urgency = priority. You can configure standard templates. Built-in links in the CMDB show related items. It also supports knowledge articles (provided by MS or custom entries), incident tasks, and capture of resolution information.
  5. Third up is Problem Management. Problem management deals with resolving the underlying cause of one or more incidents. The focus is to resolve root cause errors and find permanent solutions. SM can log problems against related CIs, and you can manually create problem records, or they can be automatically created. You can categorize and set priorities through various data fields, and see the impacted CIs. You can define and relate known errors, and define and relate knowledge base articles within SM. Integration with the incident management engine can close incidents when they are resolved, and integration with the change management module ensures that proper change processes are followed.
  6. Fourth up is Change Management. Change management records changes in the environment, affected services and computers, authorization to proceed, captures planning work, coordination of change implementation, and review of change completion. Details such as title and description are captures, including related CI items, and you can define change templates. CM contains activities, and you can review their current state. Planning changes are captured as well. Fields can capture scheduling details of the change.

The speaker went through a number of demonstrations of SM, and all of the integration modules. I thought it did a good job of showing the power of the integrated CMDB and how it can help you streamline and automate your processes. However, SM won’t magically create your processes. So if your organization has poor processes to start with, you won’t get as much out of this tool. You really need to clearly define processes, socialize them to all staff, then enforce the processes. That’s when the power of SM can really be seen. For a v1.0 product, I think MS took a good stab at the problem set. The enhancements to SM 2012 close some of the gaps in 2010, and make the product even better.

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