SIM210: Sneak Peek at Service Manager 2012

One of the objectives for SM 2012 is to deliver IT as a Service (ITaaS). ITaaS objectives are to reduce costs, increase service levels, faster time to delivery, provide more data, more transparency, and increased compliance. Implementation components include automation, standardization, self-service, and compliance. The deployment of these components are guided by process designs such as MOF, ITIL and COBIT.

Highlights of this session include:

  1. Integration with Operations Manager 2012, Configuration Manager 2012, Virtual Machine Manager 2012 (new to 2012), and Orchestrator 2012 (new to 2012).
  2. Service manager enables self-service through a portal, reports and dashboards, Excel, and email.
  3. Business processes can be defined in templates and the Configuration Management DB (CMDB), provides a common model and reconciliation of data.
  4. A new compliance library maps legalese to actionable IT control activities. Compliance is continuously and automatically evaluated in real time through SCCM integration.
  5. Improvements from SM 2010 include tracking of incident SLAs, parent/child work items, AD connector improvements, PowerShell integration, parallel activities, and performance improvements.
  6. A new Service Catalog and self-service portal deeply integrate with Orchestrator and VMM to enable ITaaS.
  7. SM imports cloud objects, VMM templates, and runbooks. An admin then creates templates to capture business processes and the role of runbooks within the processes. The admin creates default values to standardize offerings. Roles are then mapped to offerings, to limit access. Born is a self-service portal.
  8. Request processes drive automation. By using a request template, runbook activity, service requests, and connectors, business processes become automated.
  9. The SM portal is completely new and based on SharePoint Foundation 2010 and a Silverlight interface. You can customize webparts using SharePoint admin tools, and it’s very extensible. It features service catalog scoped to users, and customizable dynamic forms.
  10. The System Center Data Warehouse replaces the not-often-used System Center Reporting Manager. This enables self service report and dashboard authoring with OLAP cubes. Report authoring with Office integration for knowledge workers. Although you still may need to have some SQL reporting expertise for super-custom reports, this new OLAP model when combined with Excel really enable powerful data slicing and dicing with limited skills.
  11. There’s a new Exchange connector for enhanced email integration.
  12. You can more easily report on KPIs (Key Performance Indicators).

I was pretty impressed with the amount of enhancements in SM 2012. Given that the shipping product is just over a year old, MS clearly invested a lot of developmental resources into SM. It feels like a new rev of the product, not just a R2 version with minor tweaks. One of the demos that really blew me away was the ability to slice and dice the OLAP cubes in Excel to create custom reports, then upload those report forms in SharePoint to create a live dashboard. With just a few clicks of the mouse Excel was able to instantly drill down into complex data sets, visualize the data, and present meaningful data to the end user.

For organizations that have an existing ticketing system, like Remedy, Service Manager should be seriously considered for your environment. The integration with the entire System Center suite, SharePoint, self-service portal, and reporting is amazing. If you are serious about automating your processes, enhancing compliance, SM 2012 should be at the top of your list for consideration.

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