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Microsoft Help Desk Software: System Center Service Manager Product Overview

Microsoft’s new System Center product provides help desk and knowledge…with ITIL/MOF capable service level reporting.

Service Manager (SM) enables the automation of IT Service Management processes with its configuration driven platform.  At high level SM can be divided into 3 major blocks –

1. User Experience Layer:  The users will interact with the Service Manager in 2 ways:

  • Self Service Portal:  Targeted to end users, the self-service portal allows users to search the knowledge base, submit and view status of their requests.  It will also serve as a launch pad for future capabilities desired by  IT operations.  The portal provided out of the box is based on ASP.Net.
  • Service Manager Console: A rich client console  targeted to the administrators and analysts.  The console provides all the rich Windows functionality as well as resembles the other System Center Suite of products.

2. Solution Layer:  The middle layer essentially forms the ITIL/MOF process automation layer that can be customized according to organizational needs. Processes supported by Service Manager include Incident Management, Problem Management, Change Management, and Configuration Management.  We commonly refer these as Process Management Packs.  Management Packs (MPs) are a packaging mechanism which brings together all of the elements of a process such as ‘Incident Management’ into a single package a customer can download and install. Management Packs contain workflows, forms, reports, tasks, views, icons, and everything else necessary to provide a unique experience and a complete solution to a customer. We’ll explore the processes such as Incident Management, Change Management, etc.. in a separate series of blogs.

3. Platform Layer:  The platform insulates the database with a data access layer wrapper, enabling the SM application server and database server to be hosted separately.

  • Management Server: Management servers host the data access service as well as the workflow service.
    • Connector Framework: The management server hosts connectors to System Center products (such as SCCM 2007 and SCOM 2007) and Active Directory to import configuration items
    • Windows Workflow Foundation (WinWF): Service Manager uses to Windows Workflow Foundation to automate business processes.
  • Configuration Management Database (CMDB): The CMDB is SQL database (SQL 2008) store and is the foundation of any SM installation. The store is not strictly a CMDB as in addition to configuration items (CIs) it also contains work items (WIs). The store has many features required by a CMDB such as: 1)Lifetime management of instances b) Rich relationships between instances and c) Change logs for instances (tracks history of an instance)
  • Data Warehouse (DW): DW incorporates data from all the different sources feeding into SM and helps create new measures in context of configuration items and work items.  All dimensions, facts, measures are defined in Management Packs(MPs), making the system highly configurable for the organizational needs. Reports are also declared in MP’s and they are automatically deployed to the SQL Reporting Service (SRS) instance associated with the SM installation. The DW can support more than one SM database feeding data to it to allow for cross-SM database reporting.

System Center Service Manager : Service Manager Product Overview

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