01 September 2016 blogs Steven Dwyer 6 min read
Frequently, prospective clients approach us and ask how we stack up against other vendors in the System Center space. Often, someone in their organization has Googled a term such as “System Center Dashboards” and then built a list of products to evaluate.
While we’re certainly not afraid of competition and believe we offer the best dashboarding solution around – the first version of our product debuted in 2007 – our solutions provide value far beyond simple dashboards; our customers transform their IT organizations into business-centric service providers following models such as ITIL.
As we’ve discussed in previous blog posts such as “How mature is your IT department” and “Judging Your IT Organization’s Maturity”, Gartner recognizes five levels of infrastructure and operations maturity. As an IT organization advances in maturity it moves from reactive fire-fighting to being a service-aligned business partner of the organization.
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with a prospective client to listen to their needs. The enterprise had thousands of servers both physical and virtual, operated in a high-security environment, and the availability of the services they provided was vital not only to their own organization but to their customers as well. The executive team had called for a strategic initiative to implement a service delivery model in IT.
What made this sales visit especially exciting was that every need the organization identified was something we’ve built into our business service management product, Live Maps.
The enterprise wanted the ability to:
- Map their IT components (including applications, servers, switches, and proxies) to the services the organization provided.
- Allow the help desk to automatically see the affected services and their impact on the business when creating and prioritizing incidents.
- Provide the current status of services to senior management and other stakeholders.
- Easily monitor SLA compliance and receive notifications when SLAs were in danger of being breached.
They illustrated some of their needs with anecdotes and one really stood out for me. They had a service that their customers accessed at specific times throughout the day. One day, a technician raised an incident against one of the many proxy servers in their environment. As no one had reported outages of any critical services, the help desk didn’t think anything of it and assigned the faulty proxy server a low priority. Unfortunately, that proxy server was a crucial piece of their customer facing infrastructure and at the next availability window for the service in question, no customers were able to access it. This outage would have been avoided if they had had a tool that mapped every IT component to the business service it underpinned.
Listening to them discuss what they wanted to do was exactly like listening to one of our salespeople pitch our product. All we had to do at the end was say, “Yes, we do that.”
But then we did go on to say a few other things. We talked about how easy our Live Maps product made it to create membership groups, SLAs, and distributed applications in System Center Operations Manager. With dynamic membership groups, once you’ve built out your service map you never need to touch it again; Operations Manager will automatically keep it up to date for you. We showed them how they could tailor the views shown to various stakeholders so that senior management wouldn’t be overwhelmed with technical detail, but IT admins would still have all the information they needed to be able to quickly troubleshoot and resolve any service impacting issues.
What thrilled me even more was that the internal champions at the prospect – who had had access to trial versions of our software – kept cutting off our salespeople and talking about how true everything we said was. In their tests, our solution cut days off the time required to build groups and distributed applications in System Center Operations Manager. And the service dashboard and service maps we provided met exactly the goals set by the executive team.
Of course, as any prudent organization would do, they wanted to take a look at other vendors. We were happy to provide them with the names of every company in the System Center space as we knew no one else offers a product that would appeal to an organization looking for this level of IT maturity.
One aspect of our product that they especially appreciated was our integration with incident and help desk management tools like System Center Service Manager and ServiceNow. By automatically synchronizing business services into incident management systems, we provide context for any incidents or problem reports that are created. In the case of this particular company, once they had created a ticket against their proxy server their help desk would have immediately seen the service it was part of and would have responded with the appropriate level of urgency.
Their due diligence done, they purchased Live Maps confident in the knowledge that they’d be able to take their existing effort and investment in System Center Operations Manager and seamlessly turn it into a business service management solution.
As IT professionals provide greater visibility and transparency to the business side of their organization via service maps, availability dashboards, and SLA monitoring, they still need tools to respond to critical incidents and resolve problems. Our Live Maps solution also provides plenty of information and tools for an IT administrator.
Within Live Maps, you’ll find an HTML5 Dashboarding solution that lets you view unhealthy components, alerts, performance information, and more on your mobile phone, tablet, and desktop. And, in contrast to the Operations Manager console, it is fast.
With eight years of development behind us, we’ve had the time to build a few additional tools as well. Included with Live Maps Vital Signs, our on-demand, real-time monitoring tool. While Operations Manager may collect metrics from your systems every five minutes or so, Vital Signs allows you to see what is happening second by second. Plus, Vital Signs correlates real-time data with alerts from Operations Manager, messages in the Windows event log, and other data sources. While no one wants to experience a service outage, Vital Signs will provide you the insight to resolve it in short order.
If you’re going to be investing in dashboarding solutions for Operations Manager, we’d suggest that you seriously consider using the investment as an opportunity to also move your IT organization towards a service delivery model.
We’d also suggest that the best choice for your needs would be Savision’s Live Maps. You’ll get our real-time troubleshooting solution, IT-centric HTML5 dashboards that Microsoft MVP Marius Sandbu described as, “a must-have for any customer using Operations Manager,” and you’ll transform Operations Manager into a business service management solution to the delight of your CIO and executive team.