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The Effective Service Desk and Novell

Novell Cool Solutions: Trench

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Posted: 8 Sep 2005

Organizations who utilize Novell solutions typically justify their investment with increases in user productivity, better management of resources, and improved identify/security, with products such as Novell ZENworks, Novell GroupWise and Novell eDirectory. Although deploying more tools increases productivity, it also increases demand on the IT Service Desk to support users and to log and track problems. There are a host of vendors who can provide Service Desk Software, but buying functional point solutions that are not tightly integrated into the Novell infrastructure can create more problems than it solves for the IT Service Desk. Novell solutions have some very unique features that users should be able to leverage, if properly integrated with the IT Service Desk.

So how do you select the best Service Desk Solution?

First, let's make a few assumptions: You run an IT support function within the organization and you use Novell products like ZENworks, GroupWise, eDirectory, and Identity, for example. You are responsible for providing a Service Desk which tracks and manages incident, problem and change management, configuration, service levels, and a knowledgebase. However, none of these things are currently automated. You would like the same level of automation to manage these functions, as you see in the Novell products themselves, and you want them to work together seamlessly.

You look in the marketplace for a Service Desk solution and a long list of products and their enthusiastic sales staff present themselves. On a first look basis - they ALL provide everything you require.

So you say to them... "I am a Novell customer, what can you offer me?" And they reply... "Oh yes, we provide Incident, Problem and Change Management, and we have a Knowledgebase, and our product works within a Novell environment."

But that's not the answer you should be looking for.

The answer you should be seeking is "Our solution not only works with Novell technology, but it leverages Novell's products in a unique and powerful way, with benefits that other suppliers can't offer."

To put it another way, a Service Desk product shouldn't just support Novell, it should work in synergy with Novell products to significantly and uniquely enhance your support service.

Sounds good, but what does that really mean? For now, let's not be concerned with supplier and product names, and focus on what we mean by working in synergy with Novell.

1) ZENworks allows companies to manage the entire lifecycle of desktops, laptops, servers and handheld devices. Through unique identity-based, policy-driven automation, ZENworks eliminates administrative burdens and increases enterprise-wide business efficiency.

It's a cool desktop management product and you rely on it. Your IT staff uses it day in and day out. But do you know why they use it, when they use it, and what they use it for? What about the people who don't use it? Wouldn't it be nice if everyone who needs to use the appropriate functions in ZENworks, could use them as an integrated, seamless embedded part of their job to progress their assigned support incidents and requests? Furthermore, wouldn't it be great if the guys on the first line, who don't really understand the strength and complexity of ZENworks, could - at the single press of a single button - remote control a user's PC, without doing any more than identifying which user is calling the Service Desk? After all, if you know who is calling, why shouldn't you be able to perform basic tasks to solve their problem, quickly, without having to alt-tab to another application, and find their PC from a long list of names? How is all that possible? By integrating your Service Desk Solution with ZENworks, that's how.

2) GroupWise is a complete collaboration software solution providing enterprise users with e-mail, calendaring, instant messaging, task management, document management and data storage functions. As the leading alternative to Microsoft Exchange, GroupWise has long been praised by customers and industry watchers for its security and reliability.

Great product, great value to the business. However, as an analyst, I want to see what's new and what's overdue in my inbox. As an IT manager, I want to receive email notifications when support incidents are not being progressed correctly. As an end user, I want to receive information from the service desk when they log, progress and resolve incidents for me or on my behalf. What's more, I want to be able to log, update, and resolve my incidents myself via email. So, I'm sitting in an airport as I write this with no Internet access, other than my Blackberry. I want to email the IT Service Desk from my Blackberry and receive an email back in 30 seconds telling me the reference id, service level, expected fix time and first response time back. And I want that email back, no matter what the time and no matter what time zone I'm in. I also want a link, to view and update the incident when I get to a browser. How's all that done? By integrating your Service Desk Solution with GroupWise, that's how.

3) eDirectory provides a repository of user information, such as department location and phone number, as well as certain asset related data, such as the computer the user who was last logged on.

OK, if you have eDirectory, you have probably moved your critical business data definition into eDirectory, or at some point in the future you intend to. Your Service Desk product should take advantage of this and present the correct and accurate user and asset information from eDirectory to the helpdesk console, with the ability to remotely control user PC's. This reduces the need for operators to leave the helpdesk, and helps reduce travel and support costs. Sure, it could be manually imported, but it is more current and accurate if it is pulled in real-time from eDirectory. One single repository of data remains, one point of update, one definition. Yet this time, it is powering your Service Desk and support operation. So how does that happen? By integrating your Service Desk Solution with eDirectory.

4) Identity Manager - delivers swift, secure management of the ever-changing user community, as new hires, customers, partnerships, mergers, job changes, and terminations reshape user access needs. As a key component of Novell's Identity Driven Computing strategy, Identity Manager automates changes to user access rights, passwords and profiles, streamlining administration and reducing costs.

So, whether I'm a member of IT staff or an end user, I want my Novell environment to identify me, and automatically give me the permissions and access rights that I deserve. I want the same from the service desk solution. I don't want to see login screens or passwords, whether I'm accessing the system from an email, from my desktop or through a portal. The Novell login security ensures I am who I say I am, and I don't want to have to log into anything else - especially not the Service Desk system. How can I get seamless access? By integrating your Service Desk Solution with the secure environment controlled by Identity Manager.

So there we go. These are some of the significant advantages that being a Novell customer can bring to your provision of IT Service Management - and especially the service desk.

We haven't spent time describing all of the tasks that a service desk product should perform. These are typically listed in standard product spec sheets. What is not typically there, are more thorough descriptions of the synergies between the Service Desk and Novell solutions. As the author of this paper, of course you would expect all of the synergies above, and more, to be available from Touchpaper, and you will not be disappointed.

Ian Aitchison is the Service Desk Product Manager at Touchpaper, a Novell Partner

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