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At Your Service

Improving Service Management with Novell Service Desk

Written by Ken Baker

If you want to improve the quality of the IT service you provide to your internal customers in a way that meets your business needs, it’s time to take a look at Novell Service Desk. Whether you’re using Novell ZENworks or third-party solutions for endpoint management, endpoint security and asset management, Novell Service Desk complements your investments to give you the IT service management capabilities you need. It helps you close calls faster, so both your users and IT personnel can be more productive.

Built on ITIL Best Practices

Novell Service Desk has been designed and built upon the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL), the internationally recognized best-practices approach to IT service delivery. (See Service Desk Differentiators) Service Desk uses ITIL in a way that improves your IT organization’s ability to act as an IT service provider for your business units. This enables you to provide services with the quality and availability that you negotiate with those business units. It also lets you continuously review those services to make sure they’re the right services for the business and that they’re being delivered according to your Service Level Agreements (SLAs). (See Figure 1.)

To help you integrate IT with your business needs, Novell Service Desk provides fine-grained control over key business logic parameters for the following core ITIL service and delivery support processes:

  • Configuration Management – Uses a centralized configuration management database (CMDB) to store, manage and control all types of infrastructure information.
  • Request Fulfillment – Enables end users to obtain information or advice, as well as easily submit requests for change.
  • Incident Management – Ensures the fastest path to resolution by facilitating the creation of incident workflows using a combination of states and transitions, configurable business rules, and automated notifications.
  • Problem Management – Uses a combination of manual and proactive analysis with automatic problem-identification tools to rapidly identify root causes.
  • Change Management – Manages and controls CMDB changes in accordance with documented change-management procedures.
  • Service-level Management – Facilitates the ability to meet SLAs in accordance with ITIL best practices.
  • Service Catalog – Assists with diagnosis and root-cause analysis by defining and managing the active or ‘live’ services offered to end users so you can group components with related dependencies under a single service umbrella.
  • Financial Management – Quantifies the financial value of IT services and the underlying IT infrastructure so you can map budgets to the monetary value your services provide, based on actual usage and warranty information.
  • Release and Deployment Management – Enables the planning, scheduling and control of changes and updates from test to live environments.
  • Knowledge Management – Provides efficient knowledge creation, publication and distribution processes that speed resolution times, reduce frustration and empower customers.

Service Desk uses ITIL in a way that improves your IT organization’s ability to act as an IT service provider for your business units.

Turnkey Service Delivery Solution

Another big advantage of Novell Service Desk—one that differentiates it from competing solutions—is that it’s ready to use right out of the box. Putting it into play can be as simple as taking the following four steps:

  1. Move it as an appliance into your virtual infrastructure and start it up.
  2. Connect it to your existing directory services infrastructure (either Active Directory or eDirectory), and then use information in those directory services to populate information about customers and the technicians supporting them.
  3. Bring in asset information already collected by ZENworks Configuration Management or other third-party asset management systems.
  4. Start taking service requests via phone, e-mail or the Novell Service Desk Web portal.

Right out of the box, Novell Service Desk also lets you take advantage of ITIL best practices and adapt them to your unique requirements. It does this by including ITIL-based templates and fully configurable workflows that you can customize as needed. These templates and workflows let you prescribe how you want different types of incidents or change requests to be handled. They ensure that you don’t have to start from scratch or configure IT processes on your own. For example, one template provides a sample incident workflow that automates and streamlines the process of adding an incident to the system, reviewing it, assigning it to a technician or engineer, resolving it and finally closing it.

The workflow templates in Novell Service Desk allow everything from minor modifications or significant customizations designed to meet specific requirements. At a high level, the steps for modifying an existing workflow template include the following:

  1. From the Workflow screen, select the name of an existing workflow template and duplicate it.
  2. Rename the new workflow and provide a description of its purpose.
  3. From the Process Type drop-down option, indicate what type of workflow it is, such as incident, change or problem.
  4. Configure the fields for Default Open Status, Default Closed Status, Update Status to, and Email Note action.
  5. Assign a SLA to govern the lifecycle period of the workflow.
  6. In the Life Cycle tab, graphically define and map the workflow states, editing existing states or adding new states as needed.

To further simplify and speed your deployment, Novell Service Desk includes a number of preconfigured items such as Service Level Agreements and standard reports. For example, it includes a sample SLA that outlines response times, restoration times and final resolution times based on ITIL best practices.
(See Figure 2.) It also includes Service Level Agreements based on operational agreements and contracts for defining, managing and tracking service delivery levels.

Another big advantage of Novell Service Desk—one that differentiates it from competing solutions—is that it’s ready to use right out of the box.

Leverage the Value of Your Asset Data

Another major advantage that Novell Service Desk delivers over competing solutions is that it allows you to leverage the valuable asset data that you have already gathered using Novell ZENworks Configuration Management. This provides your technicians with easy access to detailed information about your users’ hardware and software, enabling them to diagnose and resolve problems faster. (See Figure 3.)

To leverage this asset data, Novell Service Desk has been designed with an open interface that allows it to integrate and communicate with all of the Novell ZENworks solutions. This integration makes it easy to regularly import and leverage asset information from the ZENworks database to build out the resources your service desk will support.

In addition to ZENworks integration, the asset management integration engine (AMIE) in Novell Service Desk makes it easy to synchronize with a wide range of third-party asset management systems. It uses XML descriptor files embedded within Novell Service Desk to connect to an external host and transfer any desired type of asset management data into the Service Desk CMDB. While providing default integrations to Novell and most other major asset management systems, it also provides a simple mechanism that lets you create your own integrations using XML descriptor files.

Novell Service Desk lets you leverage Active Directory for managing your customers, technicians and other Service Desk users. It also supports LDAP and Novell eDirectory user authentication. And to let you control every aspect of user login and security, Novell Service Desk uses an authentication gateway that integrates with any LDAP or Active Directory server, supporting anonymous SASL and SSL authentication, as well as individual mappings. The gateway also lets you use mixed login techniques for different users or groups, and it can connect with any third-party server to validate user access. Finally, Novell Service Desk can be integrated with single sign-on (SSO) and identity management environments so your users can bypass the Novell Service Desk login page.

One of the main goals of Novell Service Desk is to provide you with a single pane of glass for your IT administration and management efforts. To accomplish this, Novell Service Desk will soon feature even tighter integrations with Novell ZENworks solutions, enabling you to perform all your ZENworks and Novell Service Desk activities from a single console.

To leverage this asset data, Novell Service Desk has been designed with an open interface that allows it to integrate and communicate with all of the Novell ZENworks solutions.

Easy, Dynamic Interface

The browser interface in Novell Service Desk makes it easy for your support technicians to access the information they need to respond to service requests. The interface includes graphical dashboards with drill-downs and personalized views into all of your core processes. (See Figure 4.) It can present audit trails of all actions related to a service request, including resources used, notes and a complete client history. The technician can also view imported data collected by Novell ZENworks Configuration Management on user endpoints and other assets. Finally, it supports all major Web browsers, so it can be accessed from anywhere and doesn’t require any software installation to use.

With native language support for English, Chinese, Spanish, French, German, Norwegian, Romanian and Polish, Novell Service Desk automatically presents the interface in the language configured for the operating system your technicians happen to be using. This ability to dynamically present the interface in the appropriate language allows you to have one central instance of Novell Service Desk that services your entire global organization in each user’s native language. Additionally, its flexible framework makes it easy to customize or add new languages as needed.

In addition to adapting the interface to the user’s language, Novell Service Desk automatically accommodates the type of user accessing the system. The product, after all, isn’t limited to your support technicians; it’s also designed to be used by service managers, the end users you support and others. For example, end users can check on the status of service requests, interact with your support team or even look for information in the Service Desk knowledgebase that can help them resolve issues on their own.

Integrating Business and IT

Novell Service Desk serves as the central point of contact between customers and your IT service organization. It is also the operational interface between business and IT, providing the service conduit for all IT-related incidents and requests. As such, Novell Service Desk helps you integrate IT with the business needs and service objectives of your organization.

One of the ways that the product helps integrate IT with your business objectives is through its service catalogs, which can help you map the relationships between your services and your underpinning technology and infrastructure. For example, this might include a logical map of how you deliver e-mail to your mobile devices. So, if your users ever experience problems receiving e-mail on certain mobile devices, you can analyze the logical map to determine the location of possible break points. This streamlines troubleshooting efforts by letting you quickly identify the most critical elements and potential trouble spots in your e-mail delivery.

Novell Service Desk also provides an array of built-in standard reports that let you quickly see how well your service team is performing. The reports also let you drill down into the detail needed to assess why certain things are occurring in your environment. For example, if a report shows that a particular server generates more errors than others, you can use these detailed reports to drill down and analyze the underlying root cause of those errors.

Straightforward Licensing Model

Unlike many competing helpdesk offerings, Novell Service Desk features a straightforward licensing model. It’s available in two editions that address different requirements your organization might have. Novell Service Desk for Incident Management is geared toward IT departments primarily focused on day-to-day operations or a “‘keep it running” mode. This edition is designed to let you start taking calls and improving end user service very quickly.

Designed primarily for larger organizations or enterprises, Novell Service Desk for ITIL Service Management is ideal for IT departments that want to operate as a business within a business or focus on providing long-term services to the rest of their organization. You can easily move from one edition to the other by entering a new license key (no need to reinstall the product).

Additionally, Novell Service Desk includes many features for which competitors charge a premium, such as an end user portal (See Figure 5.), knowledgebase, user contact to service desk via e-mail, technician status updates to users via e-mail, and connectors for directory services and ZENworks Configuration Management. (See Free Licenses)

Novell Service Desk gives you a complete, ITIL v3-based best practices service desk solution that can reduce your mean time to repair, while helping you continually improve your service management environment.

Complete Service Desk Solution

Novell Service Desk gives you a complete, ITIL v3-based best practices service desk solution that can reduce your mean time to repair, while helping you continually improve your service management environment. It streamlines and automates service desk functions, while enabling you to submit, solve, track and manage requests via e-mail, PDA or a convenient customer portal. It gives you the high visibility and accessibility you need among all your core processes, and it creates a customer-focused environment where your service and support issues can be managed according to your service level agreements.

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