HP Service Manager is a database driven application and currently supports IBM DB2, Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server. I prefer SQL Server because of the myriad of fixes that come out for Oracle every release of Service Manager and the ‘late-to-the-game’ support of IBM DB2.
HP should seriously consider including binary drivers for MySQL. MySQL is a perfectly good platform for the enterprise and HP Service Manager is uniquely positioned to use it, even the older versions. Two simple reasons…
- HP Service Manager does not use stored procedures, triggers, views or any of the other database specific programming techniques that would add a lot of development time or complexity to subsequent HP Service Manager releases.
- Many customers are already looking at running on Linux because of the low cost to purchase and support it, MySQL is the perfect compliment. Runs on Linux, free and easy to support.
For these two reasons alone HP should build drivers into Service Manager for MySQL. In fact, any MySQL only customers or even customers who may only run Linux may exclude HP Service Manager from their lists of possible software specifically because it does not support MySQL. Because of the current un-ease between HP and Oracle, HP really needs to consider another database platform. Please HP, consider MySQL.
Service Manager Active Directory LDAP Integration
Service Manager has the ability to integrate with an LDAP directory server. The Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) is an open industry standard that defines a method for accessing and updating this type of information. Storing data in one place and sharing it among other applications can save time and money by minimizing administrative effort and system resources. The ServiceManager LDAP interface allows customers to use their directory server data for ServiceManager user authentication.
While it may be possible to configure LDAP Integration with other LDAP compatible directory servers only the following directory servers have been tested and are supported for integration:
- Sun ONE directory server
- Microsoft Active Directory
- IBM® Lotus® Domino® Server
- Novell® eDirectory™
- OpenLDAP directory server
This article describes the steps needed to configure Service Manager Integration with Microsoft Active Directory. This example will follow the guidelines below.
- The directory server will be used for authentication into ServiceManager
- Only authentication data will be mapped
- Service Manager will be the primary data source
- Only one directory server will be used
- This example only uses one directory server but a failover is recommended
Two places will require changes while completing this implementation:
- LDAP Mapping in Service Manager
- sm.ini file
The LDAP Administrator will need to provide the following:
- LDAP DN where all users will be located
- An LDAP Bind Username and Password with the ability to see above DN
ServiceCenter Automate (SCAuto)
ServiceCenter Automate (SCAuto) provides event management services, which enables external applications to be integrated with Service Manager. SCAuto allows customers to use these services to transmit information to and from their environment and applications.
Common applications of this functionality include:
- Email management
- Notification upon the closure of a ticket
- Opening tickets
- Automatic network inventory management
SCAuto enables communication to and from external applications through Event Services. Historically, Event Services acted as a buffer to the database to allow external applications to write to its proprietary P4 database. Event Services is still used today because it is capable of fine-tuning and manipulating the data as it is processed into the database.
The most common use of SCAuto is its provided email application interface. The email option provides email services to ServiceCenter/Service Manager. With extensions, this option can be expanded to handle other email events, such as:
- Dispatch application that runs from email
- Email bridge
SCAuto also provides a service for sending email into ServiceCenter/Service Manager. This allows records to be created, updated, approved or closed through email.
Notifications in Service Manager 7.1/ServiceCenter
The Notification Engine is primarily responsible for sending messages that are generated by HP ServiceCenter and Service Manager events, such as opening or closing a change or task. Administrators can edit these messages, add new messages, change the conditions that trigger the messages, and select who will receive the messages.
The foundation for the Notification Engine is strong and robust, allowing many different types of notifications to be generated. The Notification file stores the definitions of the who, what, where, when and how of the notifications. This file works in conjunction with the message file to define headers for common system events. Arguments are passed to the pre-defined messages and substituted allowing for unique subject lines for each message.
Out of the box, ServiceCenter/Service Manager is configured to send notifications at all of the touch points of the record lifecycle. There are notifications for Open, Update and Close. Additionally Change notifications include many notifications for Approval workflow. These base notifications are called from the Object record for the file you are working on.
In addition to the base ServiceCenter notifications, notifications may be automatically generated from other triggers, such as the addition of an activity record or by custom methods or scripts and calling the notification engine directly. This allows for an endless number of notifications to be generated.
ServiceCenter has provided very robust and in-depth tools to produce Alerts and Notifications to users based on system events. Alerts allow an organization to define known conditions, which could automatically produce some action on the ticket, such as escalating the ticket, changing the severity, notifications, etc.
The ServiceCenter Alert Definitions, Schedule and Notification files all work together to produce output for the Alerts. Frequent usage of the Alerts includes:
- Notifications for SLA breaches
- Notification of pending Approvals
- Notifications of Past Due tickets
- Notifications of Stale Tickets
While many of the frequent uses for Alerts include notifications, those are far from the only uses for Alerts. Alerts can be used to update information on a ticket or execute processes.
Each ticket type provides for an alert status field, which can be updated when the alert is triggered. This status identifies the next time that a specific alert may need to be evaluated or acted upon. Alerts run at the time when a ticket is saved and evaluates the schedule.condition against the current record. If a match is made, the Calculation fields on the scheduling tab are used to set the expiration (Alert Time) on the schedule record that will be created. The name used for the Alert will be the name on the scheduled event.
Recommendation: Use very clear names for your Alerts so that Administrators will know what they are looking at when troubleshooting Alerts in the schedule file.
The Calculations for Alert times allow you to schedule an alert to happen based on a specific time in the ticket or a calculated time (such as one business day prior to the implementation time). Each alert can use a different calendar based on different needs. Some alerts may use a 24 X 7 calendar while others may use an 8 X 5 calendar.
The update Information tab allows you to specify notifications that will run and/or special processes to change the existing data in the ticket. Triggers can be turned off for these updates in order to prevent potential circular processes. From here, one or more notifications can be kicked off.
Recommendation: In order to be able to trace system Alerts and Notifications end to end, it is a good idea to use clear and systematic names for your notifications.
There is an Alert tab on the Object record. This allows for specification of a top level Alert that will run for that specific notification type. Additionally, the Change module provides Alert panels in each Change and each Task phase to set off Alerts based on specific conditions.
The best first step is to define and map out on paper exactly what you think your organization needs. Remember that any tool should always support your process. When should a ticket be escalated? Who needs to be notified? When do they need to be notified? What information is necessary for that step? While you may feel the need to notify everyone for all items, be conservative about notifying users in your organization. Excessive notifications will result in users ignoring or deleting them.
The Alerts in ServiceCenter are extremely powerful when defined and executed well. When they are not set up correctly, they can have disastrous consequences. The challenge can be in defining the notifications in a clear and concise manner. Start small with one Alert and test it end to end. Once you have nailed exactly what you want, continue to create the additional alerts that are required.
Service Manager (and versions of ServiceCenter 6+) has a fairly decent web client. If you are using the web service, you can log on and access them via the web as well as via the desktop client. Any functionality (calculations and validations, etc… ) that you have on the Desktop should port to the web client.
Your success with the web client may vary based on the design of your application. The design suggestions below are excellent suggestions, no matter what platform you are on. Some though, are more critical to the web.
Make SURE to use field aliases
Any time you plan to have more than one field on your form with the same input, make sure to use field aliases. Putting the same field on the form twice may result in unpredictable results.
Avoid the usage of complex dynamic fields on your form
- Some advanced methods of swapping contents of global variables during form display may not function as desired in the web.
- SOLUTION – Use conditional display to display one of two fields (with different global lists) based on the needed field
- Dynamic drop-down dynamic fields based on other fields on the form may function unpredictably on the web.
- SOLUTION – Utilize links for overly complex dynamic field lookups. The link expressions can be calculated successfully. That will provide much better results
Use a form width of 176
Specify the “magic” width size on your form of 176. This will ensure that the ServiceCenter forms will expand to their full window size. Although this may be confusing, you are not limited to fields to 176 using this method. You can design elements beyond that position and the fields will display perfectly. If, however, you specify a different form width, the form may not display properly based on the width of your window.
Keep your QBE forms to a minimum number of fields.
Specifying large fields or many fields on your QBE forms will not display nicely to the client. On the desktop client, a QBE with a description field will take up one vertical line. On the web, it will expand to show the full contents of the field. Also, while on the desktop client, you can scroll left to right, that functionality is limited on the web.
Make sure your home menu for the web clients contains visible and usable options
If you have no visible fields on your main (home) menu form, Service Manager will hang when entering tickets.
Use folders to organize your favorites
Adding all your favorites into the main folder is ok when you have a few items. If your system has dozens or hundreds of favorites, your users must scroll through many items before finding those few favorites that pertain to them.
Take time to organize your favorites into folders. Use separate folders for Incidents or Interactions. Also, take variations on the same favorite and combine them into their own folder.
Use top level folders so that the user always has access to his or her favorites on the first displayed screen.
Keep forms to a maximum height
Using excessive heights will cause your users to have to scroll to see all the fields on your form.
Whenever designing a Service Manager solution that will be used on the web as well as on the Desktop client, make sure to test equally on both clients. Just because your functionality works on the desktop client does not guarantee that it will work on the web.
Keys to a Successful ITIL implementation using HP Service Manager 7
ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library) is a set of best practices used to implement and govern the processes for Service and Support. HP’s Service Manager application provides ITIL compliant, out of the box processes in each of its modules. The level of adherence and integration with ITIL processes may vary by module. All of the modules meet a minimum ITIL compliance level.
This does not mean that the out of box delivered application can just be dropped into an organization and suffice to support the business. Each organization has its own unique constraints and needs, which need consideration when implementing any Service Management tool.
HP’s Service Manager application provides an excellent template for implementing Service and Support within the enterprise. What makes some implementations so much more successful than others? How can you guarantee success when implementing your Service Management application?
- Carefully review the out of box provided Service Manager application and individual modules
Invest the time in taking a test drive of the whole application. Review and compare the differences between out of box processes versus your established ones. Itemize those key activities that the application performs satisfactorily as well as those that just do not work within your framework.
- Demo the entire application.
Even if you do not plan to implement all of the modules, see how the modules interact and interrelate with one another. Identifying and learning key elements of each module facilitates building your own processes.
- Look forward
Don’t make the mistake of re-building the application you had yesterday. Business needs change and planning for change and growth up front enables you to have a more robust and dynamic application.
- Hold process review meetings
Before doing any tool tailoring, develop focus groups within the organization to review the existing out of box processes and perform a GAP analysis against your process. Make sure the process meetings are effective by:
- Knowing the needs of the organization
- Invite the key SME’s from different areas across the organization
- Provide a published agenda with desired objectives and outcomes for each meeting
- Set up rules for resolving disagreements. The most amount of time wasted in meetings is in resolving deadlocks.
- Perform a GAP analysis of the out of box tool against the desired processes
- Identify all areas where the out of box tool can support your desired processes. Would the out of box tool be able to be used or can the process be tweaked to meet the tool? Or is custom code required to support the process.
- Document your processes. Include all the actors, inputs and outputs used in each process.
- Leverage ITIL and tool specialists that can help guide you through the process review
- Identify key data
It is important to identify key data that will be used in the tool and in your process. Service Manager has some “critical” data that supports all modules in the tool. Planning and establishing good criteria for these will make for a smooth road during your implementation.
- Contact.name – The contact.name is probably the most critical data component in Service Manager. Contact.name is used universally throughout Service Manager. The contact.name must be unique. It should not contain special characters that are interpreted as wild cards by the back end database.
- Services – Identify the services that are supported by your organization
- Categorization structure – Identify what types of issues are reported and supported by the organization. The perfect time to review and implement a new categorization is during the implementation of Service Manager.
- Configuration data – What types of configuration items does your organization use? Do you use an effective way of organizing them? Can your items be dropped into an established structure such as the one HP Service Manager provides? Is there other information that your organization needs to track that is not provided out of box?
- Develop Access Profiles – Identify the different types of users within your organization. Document who has access to what types of data. Is there data or fields that should be locked down? Document these up front.
- Review your Impact, Urgency and Priority matrix. The out of box provided matrix follows ITIL guidelines. Use that matrix if able.
These key data criteria are items that apply globally. There are other criteria that apply to single modules, such as a Service Catalog, or Change Categories that should be identified if you are implementing those modules.
- Plan and document your notifications
Identify all of the notifications and conditions that require notifications to agents, users or approvers. Document these conditions before trying to implement them. Avoid over-notifying users. Excessive notifications may cause a reduction in compliance and ignoring message content.
- Build a good foundation
Start by implementing a clean and well developed system. It’s important to build efficient expressions that can support not only your current system, but future growth as well. Use experienced developers in conjunction with your current team. Make sure you know up front what you want before you start.
- Don’t be afraid to paint outside the lines
Service Manager “out of box” is representative of a general implementation. The out of box behavior is not meant as a one size fits all, but rather provides a good foundation on which to customize and build your Service Management solution. Out of the box and Service Manager Change Management should not be considered, as the out of box are examples of how Change Management could be used. The provided out of box will not give an organization the end to end process that is needed to support Change Management.
- Perform an ITIL review of your system and processes
Will your developed process and tool conform to the ITIL guidelines? Is your system well documented? Are the controls clearly identified?
By following these recommendations, your Service Management solution will be clean and support your business process. Your tool should always support the business process. Avoid building the process to support your tool as there are likely to always be shortcomings in the tool or process that will cause non-adherence.
Erratic Behavior in the HP ServiceCenter 7.1 ESS Web Client
ESS (Employee Self Service) in ServiceCenter provides a functionally slimmed down version of the full web client. The ESS web client is designed to give the ESS users a way of opening tickets to the Service Desk and checking the status on those tickets. Several situations were noted where the ESS client was not behaving correctly. These resulted in a client crash or other internal failure in ESS.
Examples of the bad behavior include:
- The ESS mail URL (for an ESS client) does not work as expected
- Record lists with one record in the open or closed records causes the ESS client to crash.
In our affected system, the “New Thread: -> List” option in the Service Desk profile record was enabled for the ESS profile. Since the ESS client does not support threading, this option causes the ESS client to behave with unpredictable results. By turning this option off, we were able to resolve both of the issues above. It should be noted that these are just a few examples of the behavior exhibited in one example. Other errors in ESS could also potentially be connected to this same issue.
HP Service Manager 7.1
StrataCom has a new recorded demonstrattion of HP Service Manager 7.1. Have you…
- Been wondering what is new in HP Service Manager 7.1?
- Been thinking of upgrading/re-implementing but you want to see SM7 first?
- Have you been wanting to see a demonstration but not deal with a scheduled call?
All you have to do to watch the video is go to our Gotomeeting site, supply your name/email, and you can watch it at your leisure.
(You may have to install the codec too – it’s linked on that page).
Thanks – and enjoy!
Migrate? Re-implement? Upgrade?
Service Manager 7.1 is the latest release of the ServiceCenter line. Both internally and externally, there are many structural changes in Service Manager. If you have previously been on ServiceCenter and used its’ proprietary P4 database, the P4 database does not exist in any form on Service Manager.
The choice and the decision to re-implement reside with the business. However, there may be factors that will sway an organization from one side to the other.
Choosing the Path Right for You
Look at the age of your original implementation.
Has your application been repeatedly ported from one version of ServiceCenter to another and now you are finally looking at Service Manager? If your organization is upgrading to Service Manager from a version older than ServiceCenter 6.x, there may be huge benefits to gain from a re-implementation. With each release, the base implementation is improved and continually aligned with ITIL. There are also many backend infrastructural improvements that occur from release to release.
Look at the business processes that support your implementation.
While those processes may have been first class when you first implemented your Service Management solution, do they still support your organization as desired? Have you gone through and re-designed your processes to align them within the ITIL framework? Has your tool taken over driving your business processes because the implementation is too complex? Does your solution support the entire enterprise or just one portion of the users within your organization?
If you answered “No” to any of these questions, your organization would benefit from a structural re-alignment of the business, business processes and the tool.
The first step is to document your business processes. Determine the required inputs and outputs of each step, required controls and the data collection necessary to support those processes. These business process realignments do not require access to a Service Management solution. (It’s a good idea to review and align those processes with ITIL recommendations as well.)
After you have documented the business process, the next step is to overlay that process over the out of box modules. Is there a significant amount of common ground? Or, are there significant differences?
What are the benefits of re-implementing?
Many times, there are efficiencies that can be gained from moving to a newer out-of-box image of the application and building custom extensions onto that image. You gain the full benefit of the newer code, a clean system, and a well implemented system. If your system is very old, chances are that there are newer, better ways to implement some of the existing functionality. Also, there is probably existing code that is no longer utilized and is still in the system.
By re-implementing, you also have an opportunity to re-use existing out of the box fields and processes that can help support your business. You may be able to simplify some confusing and complex portions of your system and make them more user-friendly as well.
Are there any challenges to re-implementing?
A re-implementation is not without some pain. There are changes that the organization has to feel. There are changes in training and implementation. If you need to bring over existing data, there is an effort involved in that process. What results from that effort though is a clean, streamlined system that supports your organization and your business processes and that is built on a new, stronger framework.
What about a migration?
Likewise, if you do wish to migrate your system as-is, there are efforts with that as well. The underlying framework (applications) changes with each release. There is a good likelihood that something that worked in a prior release may or may not work the same way in the new release.
Depending on your customizations, you may not gain the full benefit of some out of box extensions that have been coded to make your life easier. Due to changes in the way that forms are displayed, you may have to make significant changes to your existing forms in order to implement them successfully. There are fewer training and reporting efforts by migrating. Be aware that a migration effort may not be as simple as upgrading a few applications and pushing a button.
Considering your Options
Whether you decide to re-implement or to migrate your application to Service Manager, there is no better time than now to take a look at the best and worst parts of your system and your business processes. Be honest. Re-evaluate each piece. Document what works and what doesn’t. Look at what is provided out of box. While an out of box application is not designed to be a single solution for all organizations, look at the out of box fields and examine how you could make some of those fields work for you.
~Kim Euker, StrataCom
For a free consultation regarding a migration to or implementation of Service Manager, please contact Laura Walker at StrataCom, a Hewlett Packard partner organization focused solely on the Service Manager user community.
Laura Walker Director of Business Development 701.232.5697 ext 27 email@example.com