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Why You Should Stop Doing Problem Management

Posted by on January 30, 2014 in ITIL
Incident Management vs Problem Management Few IT organizations are really good at problem management; it is often only used for managing the aftermath of major incidents. I think that one of the reasons for this is confusion in the way we distinguish incident management and problem management. We could do a much better job if we changed how we think about these concepts. I see two big issues with the way we currently define incident and problem management.
1. Failures that have not yet impacted service to users are not well handled by either incident management or problem management. The ITIL definition of an incident says it is:

"An unplanned interruption to an IT service or a reduction in the quality of an IT service. failure of a configuration item that has not yet impacted service is also an incident. For example failure of one disk from a mirror set."

Even though I wrote this ITIL definition, I really don’t agree with the final sentence. If there has been a component failure that has no impact on any users then we don’t need to follow most steps of the incident management process, and we don’t want the outcome of incident management, which is to restore service to users as quickly as possible. We can’t use problem management to manage these failures, because ITIL defines a problem as:

"A cause of one or more Incidents. The cause is not usually known at the time a Problem Record is created, and the Problem Management Process is responsible for further investigation."

Something that has not yet had an impact on any users is definitely not a problem, and it’s not helpful to call it an incident either. I think that we should separate these kind of issues, call them faults, and manage them with a "fault management" process. Fault management is well known in engineering as the process that detects, isolates and corrects malfunctions, which is exactly what is needed for this kind of thing. 2. Analysis of incident trends is part of a separate process (problem management), rather than integrated with the underlying process as it would be in every other service management process. The work that we define as proactive problem management has nothing to do with managing problems. Analysing incident records to spot trends, and proposing changes to resolve the underlying causes of incidents is really doing continual improvement for incident management. Separating this activity from incident management, and from other continual improvement activity, can lead to the following consequences:
  • The register of improvement opportunities is split between problem management and continual improvement; this makes it harder to compare the costs and benefits of all the potential improvements that could be made to ensure the right ones are funded
  • We take away responsibility for incident management improvements from the owner of the incident management process; this makes accountability and governance very difficult
If we create a fault management process, as suggested above, and we then move responsibility for continual improvement of incident management to the owners of that process, then we end up with a much simpler approach. Changes to incident management that we would need are:
  • Only dealing with service affecting incidents; failures that have not affected service are no longer considered to be incidents
  • Taking responsibility for measuring, monitoring and improving all aspects of the incident management process – including detecting trends in the incident management data
The new fault management process would include:
  • Detection, correction and resolution of all infrastructure and application malfunctions and errors
  • Ensuring that information about faults is made available to other service management processes (such as incident management)
This has a much simpler split of work than the incident / problem management split that we currently use. There is just one thing that will make this new approach difficult to implement, and that is that few IT organizations are really good at continual service improvement, but that is a topic for another blog. If this blog has made you think about changing how you do incident and problem management then you may also want to read:

Like this article? You may also like: Defining Metrics for Problem Management.

Please share your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter, Google+, or Facebook where we are always listening.
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Pink 14 Annual Conference and Exhibition Is All About the Personal Experience

Posted by on January 28, 2014 in ITSM
Annual PINK IT service management conference We're getting very excited now as it’s only 19 days until the Pink Elephant 18th Annual International IT Service Management Conference and Exhibition (PINK), where we will be super silver sponsors! We’re excited not just because it’s our first time at PINK, not just because it’s our first time exhibiting at an ITSM conference in the US, but because it gives us an opportunity to meet all of you lovely people who are as passionate about ITSM as we are!

It’s Not All About Selling

Now let’s be honest, we know that you know that for most vendors these sorts of shows are all about sell, sell, selling! You know what we’re talking about, right? Where you can’t even walk past a booth without a scanner being pointed at your chest to relieve your badge of all of your personal details? Where if you had a dollar for every time a salesperson asked you "are you looking for a tool" - you’d be a millionaire? But that's not how SysAid is going to roll at PINK 14. If you want a pushy sales speech, go and talk to one of the other vendors. However, if what you want is a human conversation about ITSM best practices or perhaps a dedicated 1:1 session to discuss your tools requirements in an environment where the demo is all about you and your needs and not about the end sale, then come and see us. You can even have this discussion with our CEO who will be at our booth throughout the event.

It’s All About Our Customers

Talking of our CEO, want to know about how she is traveling the world to see any SysAid customer that requests a visit, traveling to multiple countries to discuss the SysAid product roadmap and to help customers get the most out of their SysAid tool? Want to hear about how she spends a full day in a customer’s IT environment looking at their processes and procedures to help ensure they are using the tool effectively? Or maybe you’d like to know about how we support our customers and implement changes/add new features based on customer requests from these 1:1 visits? If so, drop by our stand and say hi. Speaking of our customers, remember that we said PINK14 isn't just about selling for us? Well we’re making the event just as much about our customers as it is about potential prospects. Which is why our booth is essentially going to be split in half: one half will be (as you would expect) dedicated to demos and consultations, however, the other half will be managed by our customer relations team for meetings with the people we love most – our customers.

It’s All About the Personal Experience

Customers can simply turn up to see us at any point during the event, but can also book a private; 1:1 meeting with any member of our team by clicking here. This offer also extends to non-customers too. Do you hate group demos? Would you prefer a more personalized experience? Then if you're interested in SysAid, book a 1:1 discussion or demo with a member of our team by clicking here.

It’s All About Knowing When You’ve Got a Good Thing

If you’re interested in SysAid and want to know more about us, then please pre-book your personal slot or drop by and see us at the event. Rest assured we will not drag you kicking and screaming from the exhibition floor or try to scan you when you're not looking. Why? Because we don’t need to:
  • We know that we're going to be the the most fun vendor in the room (have you seen our videos?!)
  • We know that our dedication to customers goes above and beyond what anybody else on the exhibition floor can offer
  • We know that by offering only the core essentials within our tool, we’ll be the best value product in the room (with SysAid you don’t have to pay for all the additional shiny, sparkly features that come with other tools…that you never use anyway)
Besides, when was the last time the CEO of your current tool provider traveled thousands of miles to come and see you at your offices to help you get the best from your tool (free of charge may we add)?

It’s All About You

Don’t need a tool? Who cares! Come and see us anyway! Discuss problem management with our CEO, have your photo taken with Joe the IT Guy, and/or get your free conference All Essentials Bags (filled with everything you could possibly need to get you through a 3 ½ day event…(that bottle of water you are gasping for - yes, it’s included). Joe at PINK ITSM Conference Walk past ManageEngine, slide past LANDesk, ignore the loud voices coming from the BMC stand and come and visit us. At SysAid we're not about pushy sales or trying to make our voice heard above the others. We’re about three key things:
  • Our customers
  • The ITSM community – aka YOU
  • Having fun!
So get in the community spirit and come and discuss your ITSM challenges and opportunities with us, have fun with us and take a break away from the hectic exhibition. We promise that you’ll enjoy yourselves and you never know, you might find yourself wanting to become a customer too. But even if you don’t want to be a customer, it’s no big deal, we’ll still help and love you anyway!
Please share your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter, Google+, or Facebook where we are always listening.
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SysAid Blog Celebrates 1st Birthday

Posted by on January 24, 2014 in SysAid
Happy 1-year birthday to SysAid Blog One year ago SysAid extended its multi-layered approach to social networking by starting this blog. We ventured to create a hub for conveying important ideas and trends – along with practical advice – for practitioners in the IT industry. We got off to a great start! To celebrate the one year anniversary, I took a look back over the year to see what you guys were reading the most. From 67 blog posts in total during 2013, and with over 31,000 unique views - here are the Top 5:
  • Watch the SysAdmin Day Movie Trailer: Revenge of the SysAdmin To the best of my knowledge, never before has a software company produced a mafia-style movie trailer starring its own employees! Our tribute to system administrators around the world, in honor of SysAdmin Appreciation Day, combined the Sopranos and daily life dealing with IT tasks and needy end users. Based on the reactions we got, I’d say we were spot on :).
  • Release Preview: SysAid’s Fresh User Interface! In July, we finally unveiled a sneak peek at the much-anticipated new UI inside SysAid. It was a complete transformation and we received wonderful feedback. Our graphic design team along with the product management team worked tirelessly to test the waters before making final decisions, and yet still listened to special requests and adjusted a few things during the Beta period.
  • Migrating Exchange to Google Apps: This is My Story Oded Moshe, SysAid’s VP Product, had a story to tell that apparently struck a chord with masses of readers. Migrating a company from one system, namely MS Exchange, to Google Apps was a huge undertaking. This is what Oded and his staff did and it was not easy. With Oded’s new experience, he was clear on his advice and tips for anyone attempting to go through a similar process.
  • 5 Tweaks to Revamp Your SysAid Help Desk Talking about practical advice (this time specifically for your SysAid Help Desk), this blog post offered readers 5 simple modifications to be used to fine-tune your SysAid and make it more useful and productive. Providing specific links to tutorials and online help pages made this blog particularly value-adding.
  • What SysAid 9.1 New Release Means For YOU When we released version 9.1 this past year, it was a game-changer and our CEO Sarah Lahav wanted to make that crystal clear with this blog post. SysAid 9.1 represented how effective it is to communicate with our customers, as we heard what you had to say and acted upon your ideas. Plus we launched the SysAid On The Road program – traveling the world to meet customers face-to-face. Bottom line: SysAid is in listening mode and THIS will definitely continue into 2014.
In 2013 our blog roll was certainly a mixture of IT fun, SysAid happenings, and technology recommendations. Not a bad combination, but we’ve got lots of valuable changes in store for 2014, starting with the addition of a regular monthly blog by the world-renowned Stuart Rance - a strategist, consultant, trainer, and author with an international reputation as an expert in IT service management. Stuart literally wrote the book on ITIL – he authored the 2011 edition of ITIL Service Transition and co-authored the ITIL V3 Glossary. He has also written many service management pocket guides for itSMF and for the official ITIL portfolio. The plan for 2014 is to concentrate on publishing best practices, which will be applicable to all IT professionals globally, not just to SysAid customers. From knowledge management to problem management, from CMDB advice to ITIL, we’ll be covering it all, and Stuart in particular will bring a combination of best practice advice and thought-provoking ideas about how to get real value from IT service management. Please tell us - what interests you the most? Is there a specific IT process that you would like us to talk about? What do you want to see more of in our blog?
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10 Free Android and iOS Apps for Better Business

Posted by on January 21, 2014 in General IT
Mobile Apps for the Service Desk Do you ever wonder how business carried on before smartphones and tablets? I sure do. Fortunately, these days anybody with an Android or Apple device has access to apps for every conceivable business need, whether it’s booking a last minute flight, signing an important contract, or crafting your next big idea. With so many fantastic free apps out there, narrowing a list to 10 is quite a challenge. Nevertheless, here I go!
  1. Evernote – Have a brilliant idea for a new product, but don’t have a pen and paper to scribble it down? Think of Evernote as your digital notebook. The app allows you to store everything from photos to web pages to notes, PDF files, and audio clips. The best part – the app is completely searchable and can be accessed on your desktop, mobile device, or tablet.
  2. TripIt – Business travel is hectic enough without having to keep hard copies or locate emails with confirmation numbers and reservations. With TripIt, you can forward your travel confirmation emails to plans@tripit.com, and the app instantly creates a single itinerary. Now you can focus less on the minor details and more on the big presentation you’ve been working on for months.
  3. Docs To Go – If you’re like me, you don’t want to drag your laptop with you everywhere so being able to access your Microsoft Office docs from your mobile device is a must. With Docs To Go, whether you need to look at an Excel spreadsheet or edit a Word document, it’s all easily done. Not only is the app’s functionality top-notch, but knowing you won’t get separated from important time-sensitive documents should provide some peace of mind.
  4. SignEasy – Despite the fact that we live in a digital age, many critical documents still require a good old-fashioned John Hancock. SignEasy provides a simple and secure way to sign documents remotely with your finger or a stylus. The app eliminates the need for extra trips to the office or the nearest scanner.
  5. Expensify – This is another great app for business travel - one that keeps you organized and consolidated. Expensify keeps tabs on your mileage and business expenses by scanning receipts with your device’s camera and importing data from your credit or bank card. Let’s be honest: expense reports are a pain. Expensify is your pain reliever.
  6. Google Drive – Considering all the capabilities of today’s Androids and iPhones for that matter, it makes perfect sense that you’d need somewhere to store all the brilliant work you’re doing—from dynamic sales proposals to crucial office memos. Google Drive provides you storage space and also offers protection from file loss. Even if your device breaks, you’ll be able to recover anything previously uploaded to Google Drive. I think this one is a no-brainer :).
  7. Google Translate – Let’s face it; most of us aren’t well versed in multiple languages, which can pose a problem when traveling internationally. Google Translate is like having your very own personal translator, except this one comes for free. The app provides accurate translations in over 50 different languages, ranging from English to Spanish, to Haitian Creole.
  8. HopStop – Traveling on business to an unfamiliar city can be overwhelming. Is the subway faster? Or should I try my luck at hailing a taxi? HopStop takes the anxiety out of traveling by providing real-time detailed transit information such as subway, bus, taxi, walking and biking directions as well as transit maps, nearby stations, and station schedules in over 600 cities throughout the United States, Canada, UK, Ireland, France, and more.
  9. CamCard – If you’re like most business professionals, odds are you have a stack of business cards sitting on your desk in no apparent order. With CamCard, an app that reads and instantly saves business cards to your smartphone’s contact list, you no longer have to sift through hundreds of cards to find a contact’s name and phone number. With the app, you can sync cards accurately across all devices and easily edit and manage contacts.
  10. SleepBot – I had to include this sleep cycle app, if only because it sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie. SleepBot has a number of innovative features, but we particularly like the alarm designed to wake you up during your lightest period of sleep, within a 30-minute window. Get a good night’s sleep with SleepBot and show up to work bright-eyed and ready to work!
Despite my best efforts, it’s possible I left something critical off the list. If you notice one of your favorite business apps missing, let me know!
Please share your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter, Google+, or Facebook where we are always listening.
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IT Benchmarks: Incident Classification Categories

Posted by on January 14, 2014 in Service Desk
IT Benchmarks: Incident Classification Categories Following on from my last IT Benchmark blog on Customer Access Channels and Improving Service, this time around we are going to look at Incident Classification Categories – their levels of use, the problems they can cause and the benefits of simplifying your classification.

The Benchmark

According to our figures, on average customers have a total of 205 categories defined in their Service Desk. However, only 34 categories on average are actually in use. Categories Defined in the Service Desk IT has a tendency to set up too many categories in implementation because they see incidents from an IT point of view as opposed to a customer point of view, i.e. based on technology domains, devices, etc. However, the fact that only 34 categories on average are being utilized, shows us that not only are the end users not using the additional 171 categories, but neither are the system administrators! IT generally wants to help the customer as quickly as possible, and complex categories can often slow them down. It also risks the category of ‘other’ becoming a ‘dumping ground’ that kills the value of incident management information, simply because it’s easier to use ‘other’ than having to browse through numerous categories to find the one that they actually require. My guess is that even Stephen Hawking would struggle to categorize an incident with 205 categories to choose from.

The Advice

My last post discussed ways to encourage your end users to the use the Self-Service Portal, and effective classification is certainly one of those ways, simply because it makes it easier for them to log their issues. It also has many benefits for System Administrators, such as: it makes it easier to manage and therefore quicker to find the solution to a problem, it properly routes incidents to the correct support, which saves time, and it increases user productivity. Quite simply you need to simplify the submission of incidents and service requests by avoiding using complicated categories, and instead use titles that end users understand and can easily identify. I challenge you to sit down with a group of end users to read through your category classifications. How many do you think they understand? Do you know how many categories you have defined within your Service Desk? And do you know how many are actually in use? Please share with us your experiences in the comments section below. My next IT Benchmark blog will be on Knowledge Management and Reuse with statistics, benefits, and advice on how to implement a Knowledge Base, so check back soon!
Please share your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter, Google+, or Facebook where we are always listening.
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The Revolution of the Embedded Database in SysAid

Posted by on January 9, 2014 in SysAid
Embedded Database in the Help Desk Ever since the very first release of SysAid, we made sure to support several database types. To this day, SysAid supports Microsoft SQL, MySQL, and Oracle, as well as an embedded database type - Derby. The Derby database was great for most small-medium sized businesses using SysAid because it is lightweight, requires no maintenance or handling through its lifetime, and it provides decent performance on small databases. This is now changing. SysAid is adding more features, capabilities, and audit logs. This means that the database is growing faster than ever. Even the smaller customers using SysAid see their database growing rapidly and performance degrading with time.
On the other hand, customers using SysAid with an external database are enjoying better performance and virtually unlimited scalability in terms of database size. In addition, some customers are also taking advantage of the possibility of running reports directly on the database with third-party software (which was never possible, or at least it was not easy, to perform with Derby). All these reasons - plus the ones Oded discussed in his blog - have lead us to stop supporting the Derby database and concentrate our efforts in providing a better product. Starting with version 14.1, the Derby database will no longer be supported. Customers upgrading from earlier versions with Derby database will be required to migrate their data into one of the other supported database types.

What Do You Need To Do?

First, check if you are even using the Derby database. If you have SysAid 9.1, click the personal menu on the top-right and then click About. It should tell you the database vendor. If you have an older version, the information will be displayed in Preferences > About. If you are using the Derby database, we recommend migrating the database to a different type before upgrading. This requires you to run an external database server of either Microsoft SQL (2005 or above), MySQL (5.0 or above), or Oracle (9i or above). If you have such a database server available to host your SysAid data, contact SysAid Customer Relations to coordinate the migration (you’ll send us the database, we’ll process it, and send it back migrated to whatever type you choose). If you don’t have any external database server, then your data will be migrated as part of the upgrade to 14.1. The upgrade patch will install a copy of Microsoft SQL Server Express Edition and run a built in migration tool to move all the data from the Derby database into a new SQL database. The migration could take a long time, so we recommend performing the upgrade when you could most afford for SysAid to be down (e.g. over the weekend). Keep in mind that Microsoft SQL Server Express Edition is free of charge, and is limited to 10GB of database size, 1 CPU, and 1GB RAM usage. This would still perform better than your old Derby database! One final note - Customers running SysAid on a Linux server with the Derby database will not have the option to use the built in migration tool to Microsoft SQL (as you can’t even install Microsoft SQL on Linux). These cases will require the help of the caring hands of SysAid Customer Relations :). Contact us for this or any other questions.
Please share your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter, Google+, or Facebook where we are always listening.
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Google Apps vs. Microsoft 365: Who Packs the Bigger Punch?

Posted by on January 6, 2014 in General IT
Google Apps vs. Microsoft 365: Who Packs the Bigger Punch? Everyone loves a good rivalry. Whether it’s talk show hosts Leno and Letterman battling it out on late night TV or heavyweight champs Ali and Frazier throwing combinations in the ring – everyone has their favorite. But rivalries aren’t just for the boxing ring and late night TV. In fact, the technology industry has sprung some of the most intense rivalries throughout history. Google versus Microsoft, anyone? Google and Microsoft have been embroiled in an ugly battle for some time now. In one corner sits Google, the creator of Google Apps, and in the other corner sits Microsoft, the inventor of Microsoft 365. While there’s no shortage of opinions on which tech giant packs the bigger punch, we are here to give you all the facts and let you decide who the real winner is! Let the battle begin…

Productivity Applications

Google Apps and Microsoft 365 are both well-known for their productivity applications, which include word processing, presentation, and spreadsheet software. When it comes to word processing, both Google Docs and Office Web Apps have easy-to-use interfaces. However, Microsoft is probably better suited for users that are already familiar with Microsoft’s products. In terms of presentation and spreadsheet software, Office 365 takes the cake as it boasts more advanced presentation features and most users are already familiar with the formulas and features of Excel. On the other hand, others prefer Google Spreadsheets for its ability to easily collaborate. For example, multiple people are able to share and edit documents within Google Spreadsheets.

Email and Instant Messaging

Communication is an integral part of every business in which email and messaging play critical roles. Gmail, Google’s email and messaging platform, and Microsoft’s platform, Exchange Online, both offer the ability to host an unlimited amount of users, however, Microsoft will charge businesses extra for more users. In terms of organization, navigation and reminders, Exchange Online has similar features as its Outlook 2013 desktop client, while Gmail uses the same labeling system as its Google Docs, which is beneficial for both Microsoft and Google users respectively, as they will already be familiar with the features. One glaring feature missing from Gmail is the ability to set calendar reminders. In terms of messaging, Gmail undoubtedly delivers a one-two punch. Its Google Talk application hosts some impressive features such as status updates, file transfer, voice and video chat. Google Hangouts, which can support up to 10 people, is also great for chat and video conferencing. Moreover, businesses can enable the Google+ social network service, as well as Google Sites and its blogging platform, Blogger.

Calendar

When it comes to the calendar feature, it usually comes down to personal preference. However, in terms of functionality, many believe that Google Calendar is a letdown, especially for large enterprises, as it lacks the sophisticated functionalities beneficial for larger businesses, like the “Scheduling Assistant” feature found in Microsoft. The Exchange Online calendar, on the other hand, is better suited for larger organizations as its capacity to integrate with other aspects of the platform is extremely helpful. In terms of navigational and compositional elements, each service has similar features. It’s the “Events” feature that sets these two services apart. For example, Google Calendar has three ways to notify a user of an upcoming event: email, SMS, and in-app pop-up. And Microsoft has two features, the Resource Booking Attendant and Room Finder, which helps to automate the scheduling of conference rooms.

Apps Marketplace

The Google Apps marketplace definitely makes up for its lack of functionality in certain areas (i.e. spreadsheets and productivity applications). As opposed to Microsoft, which only offers solutions based around its Microsoft Dynamic product, Google Apps offers a number of third party services that integrate with its platform. For example, Google Apps has a number of email marketing and ecommerce apps, while Office 365 has virtually none.

Price

Ding ding, final round! Google Apps has a straight forward pricing plan for their standard Google Apps for Business package, which comes in at $5 per user per month or $50 per user per year, whether you’re an organization containing 10 employees or 10,000. Microsoft's small business plans, geared toward 25 users or less, provide a good mix of features for $5 or $12.50 per user per month or $60/$150 per year. A midsize business plan for 300 users or less is $15 per user per month. Before deciding on which platform to choose, you must first consider how each feature might add value to your organization. While Microsoft 365 has a large number of rich features, businesses will have to pay a premium. As a general rule of thumb, we would suggest that smaller companies strongly consider Google Apps, while larger businesses should look to adopt Microsoft 365, but the overall decision really depends on the requirements of your individual business. So who wins the battle? It’s up to you to decide… Tell us… which do you prefer: Microsoft 365 or Google Apps?
Please share your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter, Google+, or Facebook where we are always listening.
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Progressing from 2013 to 2014: It Is All About You!

Posted by on December 30, 2013 in SysAid
In 2014 ITSM is all about you 2013 was a great year and it is all thanks to you…SysAiders around the world, you rock! Just as 2013 comes to an end, I would like to summarize briefly a few highlights that happened this year:
  • We released two SysAid versions that included 34 new features and 146 bug fixes.
  • We delivered the first step in our end-user interface revolution.
  • We implemented patch management.
  • We lost one database (see Oded’s blog).
  • We exhibited at one trade show (SITS13).
  • We initiated SysAid On The Road and already visited 5 customers.
  • We had 12 webinars, 392 eLearning course participants, 1062 Community discussions, and 4 Pathfinder Roundtables.
But for me, our biggest achievement this year is our new Contributions feature implemented in SysAid 14.1. This new feature enables us to celebrate our achievements together all year long. It is our way to thank each and every one of you for every Feature Request implemented that was your idea, every bug resolution that was fixed thanks to your report, and every SysAid On The Road visit that allows us to learn something new and implement it in the product for the benefit of the Community.
Our first special thanks on our 1st and 2nd contributions go to our valuable and irreplaceable Community member Michael Z, who was also our first visit with SysAid On The Road this year, in Denmark. Thanks to Michael's requests, users can now set reminders to alert them of an expiration date for a knowledge base article (FR #13525) and a notification is now sent to administrators when an action item is reassigned to them (FR #13522). See screenshots below: Contributions feature in SysAid Contributions feature in SysAid   We know that it is all about YOU and with the Contributions feature within SysAid, we no longer need to wait for the year to end to say THANK YOU! We will say it all year, 365 days a year. 2013 was great but 2014 is going to be even better. We have big plans:
  • Three releases with an emphasis on fixes
  • Four tradeshows
  • We are going to lose one more database (just kidding ;))
  • Additional end-user interface improvements
  • New reports
  • iPad app
  • More: webinars, SysAid On The Road visits, roundtables, videos, Community discussions…..more of everything…. and it is all about you and for you.
So our New Year’s resolution is to do more for all of you, listen, share, and of course to come see you. You deserve the best and we are going to deliver. We are here for you on Twitter, Facebook, SysAid Community , email, phone….whatever feels right for you to communicate to us your requirements, wishes, and anything you want to share to the team or to me directly. I look forward to hearing, seeing, and sharing so much more in 2014. Happy New Year, everyone!
Please share your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter, Google+, or Facebook where we are always listening.
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Top 4 Considerations When Moving to the Cloud

Posted by on December 23, 2013 in Cloud
Top 4 Considerations When Moving Your Service Desk to the Cloud Since it burst impressively onto the scene in the late 1990s, when Salesforce.com introduced the concept of delivering enterprise applications via a simple website, the buzz surrounding cloud computing has showed no signs of slowing down. Conversely, this technology trend has just begun to make its mark. In 2013 alone, researchers predicted that the cloud market will burgeon to $160 billion. The cloud has been celebrated for the many benefits it affords businesses—both large and small—such as lowered capital expenditures, simplified maintenance and upgrade processes, increased flexibility, mobility and scalability, business continuity and, with a competent SaaS provider, even improved IT security. While the cloud has many uses, its capabilities have found a strong footholding in the IT service management sector. This is because 91 percent of IT decision makers have a positive opinion toward cloud computing, according to a national survey. As an IT professional, you're constantly on the lookout for tools that will help you perform better and more efficiently, which makes it difficult to resist the cloud. But before you jump head first, there are considerations you must first bear in mind.

Security

Data security in the cloud has been a point of contention for some time. According to a recent Alsbridge survey of 250 IT decision makers, 45 percent of respondents were concerned about the release of sensitive data as a result of a major security breach. However, despite participants concerns, only 10 percent believe that the cloud has yet to prove its worth and just four percent still feel the cloud is just hype. Before committing to the cloud, you should ensure that your cloud provider can meet your security and compliance standards. Does your provider use data encryption? Are they SSAE-16 certified? These are questions you may want to ask before handing your sensitive data over.

Vendor Lock-In

According to a survey of IT decision makers, 39 percent of respondents said they feel “locked-in” with their existing suppliers. Don’t get into a hostage situation with your cloud vendor. Make sure your vendor provides you with an open platform that supports all different types of solutions. Your business needs are sure to scale, and so too should your solution.

Performance

With your servers just a few feet away, you’re accustomed to speedy application performance. However, the cloud can feel light-years away and performance issues may come up. Based on your requirements – whether its bandwidth, latency, or scalability – make sure your existing applications are good candidates for being migrated to the cloud. For example, an application with high bandwidth needs may not be a good candidate.

Public, Private, or Hybrid

Depending on the type of data you wish to move, you will want to consider which type of cloud structure is best for you and your needs. For example, the public cloud, which is network-based services stored in datacenters outside your organization, offers a high level of efficiency in shared resources, but can be more vulnerable to security issues. The private cloud, which is network-based services stored behind a company's own firewall (inside your organization), offers a greater level of security, but is oftentimes costly. A hybrid structure, on the other hand, combines the best of both worlds, where the company provides and manages some resources in-house, but has others stored and managed externally. A hybrid approach allows businesses to take advantage of the scalability and cost-effectiveness of a public cloud structure and the security provided by a private cloud structure. With more than half of businesses in the United States now using cloud computing for IT purposes, such as IT service management, it’s time to consider whether or not the technology is right for you. To learn more about IT service management in the cloud, click here.
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itSMF Estonia 2013: One Day in December

Posted by on December 17, 2013 in ITSM
Estonia ITSM Event Last week I had the privilege to attend and to speak in another leading itSMF event in Europe - This time it was Estonia https://konverents2013.itsmf.ee/ What a fantastic event! It was held at the Swissotel in beautiful Tallinn, the oldest capital city in Northern Europe, on a date that is very unique as well - December 11th 2013, which is 11.12.13, a rare sequential day on the Gregorian calendar that will not occur again for 90 years. The next time a similar date will occur will be February 1, 2103 – 01.02.03 (not 2003). The organizers are definitely paying attention when picking dates for their events. When do you think their 2012 event took place? That’s right, on December 12th - 12.12.12. Now about the event itself… it was a full day packed with a super interesting agenda and more than 140 eager-to-be-enlightened ITIL advocate delegates from several countries in the surrounding region.

Highlights from the Sessions

After the great welcome and introduction by our host, none other than Kaimar Karu, President of itSMF Estonia, we dived right into the fascinating world of Delivering Service Operations at Mega Scale by Alan Levin from the Microsoft Operation Center. Now I hope you are sitting down while I go through these numbers: The MS Operation Center is in charge of more than 200 Cloud services, delivered to more than 1,000,000,000 users (that is 1 BILLION for those of you who lost track of the zeros) and they deliver all of this running on more than 1,000,000 servers. Now you understand why the presentation’s title justifies the word “Mega” :). Alan took us through their Event Management, Incident Management, and Problem Management processes. You can imagine that these processes get a whole new meaning in this magnitude of operations. So you must have these properly tuned and everyone needs to know their exact role, otherwise it’s a complete chaos with an out of business risk. One of the questions from the audience to Alan was whether he sees his department as a Service Provider to the business or a partner. Well that is a tricky question, and the answer was a lot of both - all the mandatory requirements from a service provider with highest standards and SLAs, and a real value enabler that can be a partner for success and growth with new business lines. Next up we had Viktor Petermann from Swedbank, who began his presentation Enabling Value by Process with a Yogi Berra quote: ‘In theory there’s no difference between theory and practice. In Practice there is.” For me, this totally hit the spot! He went on to give us a reality check that 4 out of 5 projects fail because of poor process design. He continued with suggestions for all the right ways of doing things to lead to success. Coffee breaks were an excellent time to get some networking done, demo SysAid at our booth and even meet up with a customer of ours - Vahur Jõesalu from HANZ A. After the first coffee break it was time for yours truly to present Benchmarking & BI - Sat Navs for Service Desks. It’s not nice to judge oneself, but according to the comments from the audience, I think I am safe to say it went well. I usually don’t get too nervous when I am in front of a crowd, but I was running a bit of a cold that day and was worried about losing my voice. Thanks goodness, my voice stayed with me and it was great. The audience was especially interested in some of the tips given by our Community to improve the percent of tickets being submitted via the End-User Portal, and how to get a higher percentage of participation in the quick surveys sent out when closing tickets. Here's the relevant slides from my presentation: World-Wide IT Benchmarks at itSMF World-Wide IT Benchmarks for ITSM in Estonia Another great session that stands out was by Tõnu Vahtra from Playtech (EE), who spoke about Problem Management Challenges and Critical Success Factors. Although Playtech doesn’t have as many servers as Microsoft, 10,000 servers with 200 million transactions per day on their platform is an operation we can all learn from. Besides learning all about effective Problem detection and reporting, I personally learned from the presentation that Dilbert is a truly endless source for IT wisdom :). Patrick Bolger gave everyone an update on what SMCongress is all about. When asked who is familiar with it - only a few hands were raised not counting myself. If you want to know more about it, I recommend reading this blog post. Kaimar gave us a lesson with some great tips on DevOps - Shattering the Barriers. Development teams won’t be so happy to hear that Kaimar recommends that the next time a devop team member is woken up at 3am to solve an issue, he or she should in turn wake up someone from the development team. It will be annoying at first, but will help bonding and even make things better! Some other pearls from his session:
  • Try and break systems and stress test them. They will grow to be stronger
  • Solve things with beer. Make sure dev and op teams sit together over beer - they can solve almost everything that way.
  • If you want to stabilize your systems and get them to run smoothly, add your CIO or CEO to all late-night wake-up calls to your dev teams. It will take only 1 or 2 of these calls to get the relevant teams to dedicate their time to making things better. I must add that this is brave and radical advice, but Kaimar says that you will see it works (assuming you will still be there to witness it).
The day ended up with a workshop lead by AXELOS CEO, Peter Hepworth. During the workshop Peter shared the AXELOS roadmap and immediate plans for 2014. He also listened first hand to what the people from this region (Estonia) have to say about how they see the tasks and priorities AXELOS should address. After the session we had some time to bond with all the speakers and organizer for drinks, food, more drinks, and even more drinks….. anybody hear about the famous Jellyfish shot containing tequila, tabasco, and some other unidentified ingredients? It helps keep you warm in the cold weather - but also knocks you off your feet! I did have a chance just before bonding to take an amazing 2-hour walk along the walls of the Old City of Tallinn together with my colleague Shai Korem, Sysaid Sales Executive, who also attended the conference and took care of the traffic to our SysAid booth. As for attending future itSMF conferences around the world - I think it is so important to constantly stay updated to what is going on and listen to where the wind is blowing in respect to ITIL and in IT in general. So you can count on seeing me at the next itSMF conference playing in a city near you! By the way, if you would like to download any of the presentations from itSMF Estonia, just go to the Programs page and download from there. Would love to discuss….please find me on Twitter @OdedMoshe. Meanwhile, check out a few of the many gorgeous photos I took on my walk in the Old City of Tallinn. IT service management forum in Estonia Oded at itSMF Estonia
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