Microsoft finally delivered the System Center Service Manager (SCSM) release candidate in March 2010 – a long-awaited event for those in the IT world.
Service Manager – Microsoft's first attempt at a help desk support solution – combines sytems management best practices with an automated IT environment for optimal incident and change management. It also integrates System Center Operations Manager (SCOM), Configuration Manager (SCCM) and Active Directory, which make up the configuration management database (CMDB), a knowledge base for in-depth solution support.
It's been a long road for System Center Service Manager, however, which was delayed several times because of development issues. Originally scheduled for a 2007 release, the three-year setback left some critics skeptical of Microsoft's role in the systems management market compared to competitors.
"What Microsoft is doing is important, but there is a lot of high-level activity from other players that has been out there for many years," said Richard Ptak, a principal at Ptak, Noel & Associates, a Nashua, N.H., consulting firm. "You have companies like IBM with a product that already integrates everything, and Microsoft is coming in behind where a lot of other people have already been before."
Microsoft blamed engineering and performance defects driven by consumer feedback from beta testers on the delayed release. "We knew this was going to be a new area and we were going to have to learn a few things," said Robert Reynolds, Microsoft Service Manager group product manager.
The initial Service Manager beta, formerly dubbed Service Desk, was released in 2007, followed by System Center Service Manager beta 2 in the fall of 2009.
The final product, System Center Service Manager 2010 was released early that year, equipped with a slew of help desk functionalities such as a self-service portal for problem support that feeds off Configuration Manager.
But regardless of Service Manager's ability to keep costs low and preserve IT resources, critics expect a slow adoption rate and a power struggle between Microsoft and other systems management solution providers.
- Knowledge-based risk management – Service Manager's configuration management database collects information from several sources for solution support while also evaluating risks associated with making suggested changes.
- Central management packs – System Center Service Manager 2010 includes two management packs – Change Management and Incident Management – to help administrators control and customize the solution process.
- Business alignment functionality – System Center Service Manager 2010 also helps companies configure their business goals with SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS), which provides simple reporting capabilities for enhanced performance monitoring.
- Microsoft enhances IT process automation in Service Manager beta
After scrapping the original Service Manager concept, Microsoft came back with improved process automation functionality and a portal to help streamline System Center administration.
- Microsoft still playing catch up with Service Manager
With the delayed release of System Center Service Manager many critics wondered if Microsoft had tarnished its chances of becoming a major player in the service management market.
- Service Manager will launch with automation software
Despite several challenges along way, Microsoft finally made plans to release Service Manager with IT process automation capabilities through its acquisition of Opalis Software.