Service Desk Tools - Comparison and Recommendation. T. Malarselvan

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1 Service Desk Tools - Comparison and Recommendation January 2005 T. Malarselvan Tata Consultancy Services Limited 17 Cathedral Road, Chennai Phone:

2 About this Document Purpose This document is a report that compares various Service Desk tools and recommends one of them that meets customer requirements. Scope The scope of this document is to compare various popular Service Desk tools and provide information on the standing of each of these tools against select metrics. Based on the metrics chosen and the performance of the tools against them, this document recommends a tool meeting the customer requirements. Audience The expected users of this document are: IT Services Manager (CTO) IT Service Support and Delivery Manager (Operations Manager) Manager IT Audit Chief Architect Technology CoE Leads Organization This is an information document containing the following: Introduction Product Introduction Comparison Criteria Conclusion Page 2 of 17

3 Contents 1 Introduction Products Evaluated CA Unicenter ServicePlus Service Desk FrontRange HEAT HP OpenView Service Desk Peregrine ServiceCenter Remedy IT Service Management Comparison Criteria System Management Feature Call Management Capability Asset Tracking and Validation Web Interface ITIL Processes Supported Integration with other ESM products Knowledge Management Performance Reporting Scalability Security Strengths and Weaknesses Conclusion Recommendation...15 Page 3 of 17

4 1 Introduction A Service Desk tool must be implemented to facilitate operational processes and procedures for providing internal Service Support and Delivery. Tata Consultancy Services Limited (TCS) has embarked on defining and implementing operational support processes and systems for a Financial Services Customer. In doing so, TCS has adhered to ITIL guidelines and recommendations. This document provides details on the comparison of various Service Desk tools, and ends with TCS recommendation of the apt tool. Based on the minimum criteria for Service Desk tools and considering the basic requirements of TCS, the following are the tools considered for comparison: CA Unicenter ServicePlus Service Desk FrontRange HEAT HP OpenView Service Desk Peregrine ServiceCenter Remedy IT Service Management Key metrics that have been chosen for comparison, keeping in view the critical requirements of TCS, are: Support of the product for ITIL Service Support Processes, namely Configuration Management Incident Management Change Management Problem Management Release Management and the Service Delivery Process, namely Service Level Management. Integration with Enterprise Systems Management software (namely IBM Tivoli, HP OpenView suite and CA Unicenter) Native support for System Management Scalability, Reliability and Security of the product Page 4 of 17

5 1.1 Products Evaluated CA Unicenter ServicePlus Service Desk As per Computer Associates (CA): Unicenter ServicePlus Service Desk is a comprehensive enterprise solution that manages virtually every aspect of an organization s service and support requirements. With a powerful workflow engine at its core, it automatically streamlines the identification, tracking and resolution of end-user issues and problems. Unicenter ServicePlus provides a full complement of capabilities, including incident management, problem management, request management, change order management, basic asset management, keyword search and self-service functionality. Advanced features such as attachments, customer surveys and service level agreement (SLA) management are supported as well. It features quick call templates for improved usability and is IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) compliant and highly scalable. In addition, it offers robust failover. Seamless integration with a host of interrelated management tools provides unmatched functionality and flexibility that, together, are capable of managing the entire IT infrastructure from a Services perspective. Version: 6.0 Platforms Supported Servers: UNIX (AIX, HP-UX and Solaris), Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows 2003 and Linux Clients: Windows 98, 2000, 2003, NT and XP and Linux Web: Internet Explorer, Netscape and handheld device browsers Databases Supported: DB2, Ingres, Ingres Informix, MS-SQL, Oracle and Sybase. Product is natively shipped with Ingres database FrontRange HEAT As per FrontRange: FrontRange HEAT - Originally developed with the input of experienced service and support managers, HEAT virtually created the modern help desk and continues to be the world standard for functionality, ease of use and customizability. HEAT was voted the Winner of the User s Choice Award three years in a row and recently named "Product of the Year" by both Call Center Magazine and Call Center Solutions. HEAT Service and Support provides the core Support Center tools an organization needs to increase overall operational effectiveness and improve customer satisfaction. It helps an organization meet its service level agreements with confidence. HEAT Service and Support has built-in best practices that help set up processes to manage even the most complex service level agreements, and allows easy monitoring and managing of service level agreements. HEAT Plus Knowledge allows an organization to leverage information assets from diverse business units across an organization, giving support technicians the information they need, exactly when they need it. HEAT Asset Tracker reduces the Page 5 of 17

6 complexity of asset management by monitoring Inventory Management, Software compliance and License Management and Lease and Warranty Management. Version: 8.0 Platform Supported Servers: Windows NT, 2000 Databases Supported: Oracle, MS-SQL and Sybase HP OpenView Service Desk As per Hewlett Packard (HP): HP OpenView Service Desk gives enterprises and service providers a unique solution to successfully manage service levels. The integrated service desk functionality allows organizations to manage crucial support and service processes to successfully deal with complex IT service management challenges. HP OpenView Service Desk helps organizations manage service level agreements (SLAs) by showing which IT elements the service is depending on, which customers are receiving the service, and who is managing and supporting the service. With new levels of integration with HP OpenView Internet Services Manager and HP OpenView Service Navigator, HP OpenView Service Desk will help organizations manage their services better than ever before. Version: 4.5 Platforms Supported Server: HP-UX, Solaris and Windows NT/2000 Client: Windows 98, NT and 2000 Web: Microsoft Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator Databases Supported: Oracle and MS-SQL Peregrine ServiceCenter As per Peregrine: The ServiceCenter 6 suite of integrated applications incorporates ITIL process standards along with other best practices. With a full configuration management database (CMDB) implementation, ServiceCenter 6 is designed for rapid deployment of key IT Asset Management service features. With its solid and scalable technological foundation, rich application capabilities and built-in best practice features, ServiceCenter 6 delivers ITSM excellence and a lower total cost of ownership TCO through less costly client deployment, faster to learn, easier to use, optimized administration tools, robust management reporting tools, standardized JavaScript customization, scalable web Page 6 of 17

7 services foundation, open integration standards, built-in workflow and best practice features. Enterprise-class solutions from Peregrine can help create business alignment and tangible business value. Version: 6.0 Platforms Supported Server: Client: Databases: Windows NT/2000, HP-UX, Solaris, AIX and RedHat Linux Windows 98/NT/XP, Solaris, HP-UX, AIX, RedHat Linux and Mac OS MS-SQL and Oracle Remedy IT Service Management As per Remedy: Remedy IT Service Management for the Enterprise provides the software applications organizations need to effectively deliver proactive IT support reduce the occurrence of IT failures, improve service levels and customer satisfaction, and reduce fixed and variable costs.. By delivering ITIL-compatible best practices out of the box, this comprehensive and integrated application suite helps organizations facilitate and manage an ongoing dialogue between business process and IT service owners. The suite comprises of Remedy Helpdesk Management, Remedy Asset Management, Remedy Change Management and Remedy Service Level Agreement Management products. Version: 5.12 Platforms Supported Server: Client: Web: Databases: Solaris, HP-UX, AIX, Windows NT/2000 and RedHat Linux Windows 98, NT, 2000, XP Microsoft Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator Oracle, DB2, Informix, Sybase and MS-SQL. Page 7 of 17

8 2 Comparison Criteria 2.1 System Management Feature Enterprise Systems Management (ESM) is one of the key challenges facing enterprises today. Availability of an ESM suite that can readily integrate with a Service Desk product and offer end to end system and service management solutions would be a real boon to enterprises in offering service level based operations management to their customers. In view of this, System Management Feature is a criterion that helps an organization judge the full-fledged nature of a Service Desk product. The more full-fledged and versatile the product is in managing systems, the better it is for the organization. The following table provides the evaluation of the Service Desk products using this criterion: Product System Management Feature CA Unicenter ServicePlus Service Desk FrontRange HEAT CA provides end to end system management solution using CA Unicenter range of products. CA Service Desk is fully compatible and can be completely integrated with other Unicenter products to offer seamless service support. FrontRange lacks a product range to offer end to end enterprise system management solution. HP OpenView Service Desk HP, with its popular and proven OpenView range of products, helps organizations achieve integrated systems management platform. HP Service Desk is fully compatible and can leverage HP OpenView Operations range of products to offer end to end service management to customers Peregrine ServiceCenter Remedy IT Service Management Peregrine falls short of an organization s expectation in this criterion and lacks end to end system management capabilities. Though Remedy inherently lacks this feature, Remedy s parent organization, BMC has a host of products that can help manage systems and networks. 2.2 Call Management Capability The Call Management feature facilitates Operations Support personnel to track all activity for user enquiries and service requests. The purpose of this feature is to enable quick call logging with minimal keystrokes and mouse movements. A Service Desk product must have support for standard as well as customizable templates to facilitate rapid tracking and recording of calls. In a few products, part of the call management feature would be to facilitate Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) thereby leading to better call tracking and efficient user interaction. As this criterion is not applicable to the financial customer current environment, not much weight has been attached to it. All the products evaluated provide Call Management support to a limited extent. Products such as the CA Unicenter have advanced call management options like CTI integration, Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) integration, Interactive Voice Response (IVR) integration, and so on. Page 8 of 17

9 2.3 Asset Tracking and Validation One of the Information Technology Information Library (ITIL) mandates is to create and maintain a consistent Configuration Management Database (CMDB). This is nothing but a database repository of all configuration items that are being managed by the operations support group in an organization. The purpose of the asset tracking and validation feature is to: a) Track any new changes in the asset space (for example, addition of new server / removal of server, and so on.), b) Maintain consistency of CMDB by ensuring that existing assets in IT environment are periodically matched against the data in CMDB. In this criterion, evaluation is based on the availability of asset tracking and validation features in Service Desk products (inherently), or by means of other highly compatible products. The following table provides information on the assessment made: Product Asset Tracking and Validation CA Unicenter ServicePlus Service Desk FrontRange HEAT CA provides an asset validation and tracking tool that can integrate with CA Service Desk, and is called CA Asset Management software (It is a separate priced product.). FrontRange Infrastructure Management suite has a product called Asset Management (It is a separate priced product.) which offers this feature. HP OpenView Service Desk HP OpenView can provide asset validation and tracking feature with the help of HP OpenView Inventory Manager (using Radia, which is a separate priced product). Peregrine ServiceCenter Remedy IT Service Management AssetTracking (which is a separate priced product) tool within Peregrine suite of products provides this capability, and can integrate with Peregrine ServiceCenter. Remedy AssetManagement (which is a separate priced product) product within Remedy IT Service Management range of products can help achieve this feature. 2.4 Web Interface A Service Desk tool should have a web interface that provides administrative as well as user level access to Service Desk functionalities and features using a web browser. Considering the increasing dependence on web browsers by technical administrators and users for tool administration and every day Service Desk access, this criterion is of importance. Some Service Desk tools can extend the web interface with enhanced features, thereby facilitating end-user self-service. Provision of web interface means that users can open their browsers to log calls, mention priority of their call, track their call, mention the category of their call, namely, service request, incident report, and so on. Operations support group members can access their request queues over the web interface, log their activities, take the calls to Page 9 of 17

10 closure, and so on. Web-based knowledge base can assist a user to help diagnose an issue / incident. The following table provides the evaluation of the tools based on this criterion: Product Web Interface CA Unicenter ServicePlus Service Desk CA provides web interface for users to log their calls / service requests. FrontRange HEAT FrontRange provides web interface for users to log their calls and also administrators to track a call, lead to closure and so on. HP OpenView Service Desk HP OpenView Service Desk provides web interface for users to log their calls. Peregrine ServiceCenter Peregrine ServiceCenter provides web interface for users and administrators. Remedy IT Service Remedy IT Service Management provides limited web Management interface wherein users can log in and record their calls. However, administrators require a client to logon (not using the web interface). 2.5 ITIL Processes Supported Service support processes (namely Incident, Change, Problem and Configuration Management) and one Service Delivery process (namely Service Level Management) have been chosen, and the products have been evaluated against this criterion. All the products are compliant with ITIL defined processes except for CA Unicenter ServicePlus Service Desk and FrontRange HEAT. CA Unicenter ServicePlus Service Desk is partially compliant with ITIL Problem Management process definition and FrontRange HEAT is not fully compliant with Service Level Management process definition (does not provide end to end service level management capability). 2.6 Integration with other ESM products It is possible that an enterprise might have deployed ESM software initially to manage its enterprise wide systems, and the Service Desk tool selection and deployment may have taken place later. In order to provide seamless and proactive service support, it is imperative that the ESM product and the Service Desk product are seamlessly integrated. As a result, products have to be evaluated on a key criterion, which is, integration capability of the Service Desk product with existing the ESM product in the enterprise. Some products support direct integration with ESM products either in the form of a module deployment or custom scripting. In performing this evaluation, more weight is assigned to products that have readily integrating modules / components with ESM products. The following table summarizes the evaluation: Page 10 of 17

11 Product Integration with other ESM products CA Unicenter ServicePlus Service Desk FrontRange HEAT Readily integrates with CA Unicenter range of ESM products. However, it does not have a ready interface to integrate with HP OpenView, IBM Tivoli or BMC Patrol. Same as CA Unicenter. Does not offer readily built interface for integration with any of the popular ESM products. HP OpenView Service Desk HP OpenView comes out very strong in this criterion. Not only does the product integrate with HP OpenView suite of products, but it also offers ready interfaces for integrating with IBM Tivoli (with Tivoli Enterprise Console TEC) and BMC Patrol. Peregrine ServiceCenter Remedy IT Service Management Though Peregrine does not provide a ready interface for integration, it provides Application Program Interfaces (API) that can facilitate integration with HP OpenView, CA Unicenter and IBM Tivoli. Remedy provides modular integration feature with HP OpenView and IBM Tivoli. 2.7 Knowledge Management This feature is of great assistance in Incident Management and Problem Management processes. This feature allows knowledge to be authored in multiple formats including.html, Microsoft Word, plain text, Adobe Acrobat and the like. The feature also helps in building a knowledge base from incidents and problems that take place. The knowledge base stored in a database is also made searchable by means of this feature. This feature may also contain a decision tree tool (that provides procedure-based guidance for almost all support issues) and / or a dynamic Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) tool. A few Service Desk tools may support third party knowledge base support. The following table details the performance of products on this evaluation criterion: Product CA Unicenter ServicePlus Service Desk FrontRange HEAT Knowledge Management Provides native knowledge base support. The tool has an optional module called USP Knowledge Tools. The module adds self-learning capabilities to Service Desk and provides a natural language interface for problem resolution. The tool also has a web interface to access knowledge base as well as Knowledge Tools data. It has an entry-level knowledge management tool called First Level Support. First Level Support maintains a knowledge base of incidents or problems resolved, and maintains data in the form of decision format or outline format. Users / technical personnel can search this knowledge base manually and arrive at solutions. Additionally (at an added cost), FrontRange also provides a prepackaged library of technical content subscriptions. Page 11 of 17

12 HP OpenView Service Desk HP OpenView Service Desk provides a feature to build Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) that can be accessed by users while registering calls. In addition, HP OpenView provides third party Knowledge Base support like egain and ManageSoft. Peregrine ServiceCenter Peregrine supports a web-based knowledge management product called Get-Answers. In addition, it has support for enhanced knowledge management products like Diagnostic Aids. Adequate security controls are in place within the product to allow select access to sensitive Remedy IT Service Management information (if any). Remedy has limited support for knowledge base and by means of Knowledge Management for Remedy (KMR) product, a more comprehensive and complete knowledge management solution is offered. 2.8 Performance Reporting Reporting is an essential criterion considering the fact that performance reviews on the operations group would take place based on the reports provided by the Service Desk tool. So it is essential that the Service Desk tool provides as much information as possible on the: Type of calls Number of calls Calls within SLA / outside SLA Changes in the environment Changes within SLA/Outside SLA Number of first call resolutions Number and nature of incidents per configuration item Number and nature of changes per configuration item. At the minimum, a Service Desk tool must provide reports on incidents, problems, changes, SLA violations and configuration information. Reports must be produced out of the box without much customization effort. It is recommended that the Service Desk tool provide a business view out of the collected data (in terms of outage percentage, business loss, number of users affected, and so on). This Reporting tool must also provide drill-down capabilities so that the viewer, if required, can get more information on a problem / change / incident. The following table summarizes the reporting capabilities of the various Service Desk tools evaluated: Product CA Unicenter ServicePlus Service Desk Performance Reporting CA provides reports in real-time as well as historic manner. Users can quickly customize real-time reports to obtain information on the current performance of a service request, incident or a problem, In addition, reports can be Page 12 of 17

13 FrontRange HEAT generated on the basis of past data collected; reports can be generated on incidents, changes, configuration items, asset descriptions and the like. The product can be integrated with Microsoft Access and Seagate Crystal Reports to provide standard reports. FrontRange has tools to facilitate reports in the form of dashboards and the product contains Crystal Decisions to create reports. The Service Desk also contains tools to provide customized reports using Crystal Reports. HP OpenView Service Desk HP OpenView Service Desk provides views into its database so that a third party tool can extract the data and provide reports on service performance. Views can be accessed by means of ODBC, SQL Client to generate reports. Chart views are provided by default by the tool, and for enhanced and comprehensive reporting, Crystal Reports or BusinessObjects Designer is a pre-requisite. Peregrine ServiceCenter Remedy IT Service Management 2.9 Scalability ReportCenter in ServiceCenter product family would meet the reporting requirements of the Service Desk. The ReportCenter tool provides several out of the box reports that are presented with the help of Crystal Reports. In addition, BI Portal is a third party tool that can process the Service Desk data and present reports that are far more comprehensive and have more drill-down capabilities than ReportCenter. Remedy has a feature called FlashBoards using which real-time performance reports can be seen. Remedy also provides ODBC connection to its data view which can be accessed by tools, such as Crystal Reports, to generate customized reports. With the scaling demand on IT service management group and the depth of services, it is imperative that the Service Desk tool is equally scalable. Service Desk products have been evaluated on this criterion. All products except FrontRange and Peregrine follow a stable three-tier architecture, thereby ensuring scalability. FrontRange does not follow a three-tier architecture. Peregrine, though it follows three-tier architecture, provides a native database with its product which is unstable and not easy-to-use Security All products that have been evaluated have adequate security measures to ensure tiered access to the Service Desk tool. In addition, all the tools provide Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) interface thereby facilitating third party access interface for security authentication and authorization. Page 13 of 17

14 2.11 Strengths and Weaknesses The following table details the strengths and weaknesses of the products evaluated: Product Strengths Weaknesses CA Unicenter ServicePlus Service Desk With CA Unicenter as the ESM tool, CA Service Desk has inherent strength in viewing and tracking an incident / problem right from its birth to closure anywhere across the enterprise. CA Unicenter is highly scalable across complex IT environments. FrontRange HEAT Highly effective and intuitive web interface. Strong asset management capabilities. Ease of implementation. HP OpenView Service Desk Peregrine ServiceCenter With HP OpenView ESM products deployed, it provides capability to manage systems/networks/services from end to end. Support for problem management process is unparalleled (root cause analysis, trend analysis and performance reporting capabilities are unmatched). Strong asset management support. Best practices guidelines are offered along with the product that can be followed by organizations that are building new processes. Large support of third party vendors to integrate their products to enhance Lack of integration capabilities with HP OpenView ESM (considering current environment of the customer). Very low number of third party integrators and vendors supporting the product. Price. Financial stability of the company and long term sustenance. Lack of direct integration capabilities with HP OpenView. Service Level Management does not cover end to end for every process area. Lack of a strong installed customer base. Knowledge base inherently is in the form of FAQ (only third party tools provide enhanced and integrated knowledge facility). management Financial stability of the vendor and long term sustenance. Not many customization options are available to suit an organization s requirements. High ongoing maintenance charges. Not suitable for small and Page 14 of 17

15 Remedy IT Service Management products to enhance features of Peregrine Service Desk. Achievement of end to end service management by integrating with ESM tools directly. Searchable knowledge base. Client support for multiple platforms (which is unique to Remedy as not many vendors support non- Windows client). medium enterprises because of the complexity of the solution and cost involved. Product price. Considering the customer HP OpenView (HPOV) environment, Remedy integration with ESM will not be as transparent and efficient as HP Service Desk. 3 Conclusion Considering the various criteria for the evaluation, the rating of the Service Desk products is in the following table (1 = High and 5 = Low): Product Ranking Remedy IT Service Management 1 HP OpenView Service Desk 2 CA Unicenter ServicePlus Service Desk 3 Peregrine ServiceCenter 4 FrontRange HEAT Recommendation TCS recommends Remedy as the apt Service Desk tool considering the technical superiority of the product. The key technical difference is the availability of a knowledge base in Remedy, and its absence in HP Service Desk. However, if the knowledge base gap can be bridged with the help of a third party software that integrates with HP Service Desk, TCS feels that the HP Service Desk tool can be deployed to manage the financial customer operational support processes. Page 15 of 17

16 Author s Biography T. Malarselvan is working as a Project Manager in IT Infrastructure Services Practice of TCS. He has around 10 years of industry experience worked in many customer engagements in India and USA. He has rich experience in IT Service Management process definition and tool implementation assignments for TCS customers. He is an ITIL certified and PMP Certified professional. Page 16 of 17

17 List of Acronyms and Abbreviations CI - Configuration Item CLP - Consumer Lending Project CMDB - Configuration Management Database CoE - Centre of Excellence CTO - Chief Technology Officer ESM - Enterprise System Management FOCUS - Financial Online Customer Service System ITIL - Information Technology Infrastructure Library ITS - Inventory Tracking System KEDB - Known Error Database KM - Knowledge Base PMO - Project Management Office RFC - Request for Change SLA - Service Level Agreement SOX - Sarbanes -Oxley (Auditing Guidelines) Page 17 of 17

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