IBM recently extended it’s SaaS-based IT Management suite, Tivoli Live, by adding in a bundle of features under the banner of “service manager.” More than just a service desk, it comes with an asset manager, configuration management, a service catalog, and more. Check out the data sheet for more details and the Tivoli Live website.
To catch up on this, I talked with IBM’s Phil Fritz and then CJ Paul for an overview and then demo:
There’s also another overview video Phil did from IBM.
Michael Coté: Hello everybody! Here we are in Austin, Texas, at the IBM Austin Campus, which is always nice to visit. And we have a, I don’t know, two or three time returning guest here to go over some new exciting stuff in Tivoli land. Why don’t you introduce yourself?
Phil Fritz: Thanks Michael. I am Phil Fritz. I am a Product Manager at Tivoli, and my area is our Tivoli Live Software-as-a-Service portfolio.
Michael Coté: In the Tivoli Live portfolio about — it was actually just about a year ago that we filmed the little overview that we did about the Tivoli Live, the first release that came out with. And basically, it had some monitoring and recording and things along those areas.
And you guys are coming — you have come out with the new — it’s always interesting picking in a SaaS how you phrase this stuff, but you have come out with a new product in the SaaS?
Phil Fritz: Yeah, a new offering, a new service.
Michael Coté: Yeah, a new part of it. So why don’t you tell us about the new service that’s in Tivoli Live?
Phil Fritz: Yeah. It was about a year ago we came out with our first one, and this is a continuation of that strategy. We are going to add more of our portfolio in a Software-as-a-Service delivery. So we are announcing Tivoli Live – service manager as our new service offering.
It complements our monitoring offering and it consists essentially of our Core Service Desk, Service Catalog, Change Management Database, Change Management, Configuration Management Processes, and Release Management Processes, and not only that, but you also get Asset Management.
So it’s a very large part of our automation stack, what we like to call a process automation stack, that takes us all the way from problem, incident, change, and into IT Asset Management, and we are very excited about it, because it’s an ideal solution to deliver in a SaaS model.
Michael Coté: I am always a bit beguiled by the name service manager, because I expected this to be like a help desk, but it sounds like there is actually a tremendously more, it’s not just tickets that you are moving in and out of it.
Phil Fritz: And this matches what we see from a lot of our customers is, we see a lot of mature processes around problem and incident management, but we also see a lot of challenges in moving beyond that, and sort of affecting service management, ITIL processes, and getting that moved beyond just simple problem and incident management. And what helps a lot with that is having a core data model, so that all of the processes can share the data.
Change Management Database is an important part of that data model. So that when you do put problems in the system, that those surface up as changes and you are dealing with the same assets, same configuration items throughout those processes.
And not only that, but when you also add in things like IT assets; my laptop is broken and I have that serial number on that laptop, that’s data you want available across all these different processes, and the lifecycle management of those assets as well.
So we find that these are all interrelated and it’s best to have a solution that can take advantage of that data.
Michael Coté: Looking at what you are doing with service manager, like how — if someone is an existing sort of a Tivoli user, like how is this going to fit into what they have already? I mean it’s not — it doesn’t — I can’t imagine that — obviously this does not move all their stuff to the cloud or something, it’s just moving part of the workflow or something.
So can you kind of speak to how the usage scenario of using service manager would fit in with managing all your additional IT and things like that, what does it end up looking like?
Phil Fritz: There’s actually lots of different ways you can consume this capability, because the Tivoli portfolio is pretty big, as you know. And so we generally either tend to have tools that focus on automating tasks of a particular silo, like Database Management tools and Server Management tools and things like that, or we have processes that span across those different silos to be able to affect changes.
So typically if you are a Tivoli user, but you are only using some of the domain specific tools, the SaaS capability, as well as our product, doesn’t really matter which way you consume it, provides that overlay, that ability to tie in all those different silos of expertise and have them flow in a consistent process, either when you are releasing or making changes to the environment. So that’s one scenario in which it can fit.
So folks that may have looked at that, implementing ITIL best practices or ITIL processes to cut across their domains, SaaS may be less of an intimidating model by which to consume these capabilities in-house, because now you can focus on the process integration as opposed to getting the infrastructure all set up and talking.
The second scenario is, what if you already have a service desk; service desk is a pretty mature part of the market, so by and large, most people have some kind of ticketing system? Well, the neat part about this is, because it’s based on the same software, for our existing Tivoli customers, if they want to, for example, take their service desk to the next level and add an Asset Management, it’s a fairly seamless experience across the two. In fact, we hope that the experience we deliver to the end users or let’s say the asset manager user that has to go and integrate their asset system of the tickets, they may not even know or care that for different parts of the applications, some of it’s being hosted in-house, some of it’s being hosted over at IBL.
So that’s the kind of experience we want to be able to deliver that way. Customers that want to explore adding more capabilities can do so in a step-wise fashion without a lot of incremental investments to go along the way, you can just kind of scale it up.
Michael Coté: What are the tie-ins to on-premising, like you were getting into the sort of configuration management and things like that, like does it sort of scan your local network, or how do you get that view? How do you cross the firewall?
Phil Fritz: Right, right. We have built a lot of simplified interfaces to enable very quick startup for a lot of our customer. So what is new in the SaaS version is we have created some interfaces to allow uploading of CSV or Excel file. So if you have got set of users or you have got a set of other information you want to upload quickly into SaaS version, we have that capability.
Obviously over time, all of the integrations that we have built into the product we will make available through the SaaS model. There is an option for VPN; if you want to enable a VPN, sort of enable other types of traffic to talk back to our SaaS, our SaaS deliverable.
And as just like other products, as time goes by, we will be adding more and more capabilities and functions along those lines to support that.
Michael Coté: And like you said, you have — everyone has a service desk and there is plenty of on-premise things, and everyone has service management stuff as well, or many people do, and so when you guys decided to go after providing all of the service management stuff as a SaaS, like what caused you to want to do that? What’s the motivation?
Phil Fritz: First and foremost, customers are asking for it. So we want to — we are hearing our customers say, hey, is there a way I can consume some of this capability with some of the upfront investments I need to make? So certainly, that’s the main motivation for delivering this type of capability.
And from just a pure looking at the market, it allows IBM to reach into other parts of the market, general business, or mid market that may have always had a requirement for this type of capability, but it has always been a bigger challenge for these small organizations to be able to pick that up.
So that’s very exciting for us to be able to service this market using this model. We don’t have to dump things down. We don’t have to remove functionality to access it. We are actually leveraging our cloud, which — there is another motivation there is, this adds more content to our own cloud, we like to drink our own champagne. We have this great platform that why wouldn’t we take advantage of this platform to deliver these core capabilities.
So obviously part of it is our customers are asking for it, part of it is us wanting to address new markets.
It’s also great to do a trial, to try before you buy. Even if the customer is not necessarily looking at SaaS as a long-term solution, this is a great way, like I said earlier, hey, I want to try this other new function, here is a quick way of getting it integrated, getting it in the hands of our users, giving direct feedback to us, so this kind of helps perpetuate a better feedback cycle for us.
Michael Coté: Yeah. And that’s one of the interesting things I have seen in I guess the enterprise software area of SaaS is, it’s a lot less onerous to just try something out. I mean, usually in an on-premise environment, you have got to get some boxes and provision things and set up access, whereas when things are offered as a SaaS, it’s, at least at the demo area, the demo stage, it’s easy to just get a sense of what it would be like, which is — that’s kind of refreshing.
Phil Fritz: It is. And a lot of our enterprise customers want more than just a demo. They want to do a proof, show me, and show me how it works, and this is a great way to deliver that proof.
Michael Coté: Well, great! Well, thanks for taking all that time to tell us about the new offering.
Is there like a website you can go to, to check it out, speaking of being able to take it out for a spin, like what’s the — is there a URL or anything?
Phil Fritz: Yeah. So on the 7th we will have a URL out there. I believe it will be TLSM.TivoliLive.com, but if you just Google Tivoli Live, we will have a splash page with the user IDs and all that kind of fun stuff and you can go try it out yourself.
Michael Coté: Well, that sounds great! Well, thanks again!
Phil Fritz: Thanks!
Michael Coté: Well, we are going to check out a demo of Tivoli Live – service manager, and to do that we have another guest to go through the demo for us. You want to introduce yourself real quickly.
CJ Paul: Yes. Hi! My name is CJ Paul. I am the Product Architect for this family of products.
What you are seeing here is the Log in screen. One of the things I want to point out right up front is that, this product is enabled for multiple languages. So right on the Login screen itself there are options for different languages that the user can choose to use the system in.
So as you click through the different languages, not only does the prompts change, but all of the information and the help that is provided by the product also changes.
We will go into the tool right now with the User ID of an end user, and here you see the end user logging in to a Self-Service portal. And in this particular portal they have information presented to them about any particular outages that are coming up. They have some options on the screen that lets them create tickets for any issues that they may be facing.
And in addition to that, we also have a Service Catalog that allows them to proactively request new services from the organization.
So here I am going to take you to the Service Catalog. We have lots of different Offerings that the user could navigate through in different ways.
Michael Coté: And are these sort of out of the box things that you guys provide or scenarios people have added in?
CJ Paul: We provide a large number of Offerings defined out of the box, with some fulfillment workflows behind them. And then the tool itself is actually quite configurable, so that it’s easy for users to add in new Offerings.
Michael Coté: Oh, right, okay.
CJ Paul: And they don’t have to write code, they can just go in and configure the tool to do that.
So just to give you a feel for one of these Offerings, I can click on the Office Move Request.
One thing you will notice here is, the Offerings here can cover both your traditional IT kinds of requests, like being able to request new IT resources or reset passwords, create accounts, as well as doing facilities request.
So a simple example here is, if you wanted to submit a request to move an office, it prompts you for the regular kinds of information that you can then fill up and just submit the Order Now! button.
Michael Coté: And then on the backend, I mean for something like this, does it sort of involve the Facilities Manager and people in addition to IT staff?
CJ Paul: Yes, it does. We have different fulfillment workflows. Each of these Offerings can have their own unique fulfillment workflow that can route the request to the appropriate people, whether they are IT or Facilities.
Then, once the request is submitted, the status of the request can be seen here in the My Requests View, as both Graphical as well as List oriented. So you can see different requests that have been submitted and who actually it’s queued up for.
In this particular case, the user had submitted a service request that resulted in an incident that is queued up for the Service Desk Analyst, and they have also submitted the Office Move Request that is actually queued up for the Enduser Manager.
Michael Coté: Oh, right, right. So it’s kind of like tracking your package as it moves through the process?
CJ Paul: As it moves through the process, right. So this is the perspective for an end user. Let me now Sign Out of this tool and show you how it looks from the perspective of a Service Desk Analyst.
The Service Desk Analyst receives the incidents that are reported by the end users and it shows up on his queue. Again, he has the ability to look at the incoming incidents in different ways, either Graphical or in a List way, and then he can claim the incident ticket and then start working on it, assessing what went wrong, and then assigning the work to different people.
Michael Coté: And this guy is apparently a productivity genius, because he only has like a few tickets, huh?
CJ Paul: That’s right. Let me now Sign Out of the Service Desk Analyst View and show you the perspective of a Change Manager, which is another one of the user types that we support on this product.
Michael Coté: So this might be sort of a level above that Analyst version or someone monitoring the various processes, kind of taking a — they are trying to monitor everyone taking care of tickets and see how that’s working out.
CJ Paul: Yes, that’s one class of person. And other scenarios where, in response to the incident that was created, they might figure out that to fix the root cause, the underlying problem, they have to actually go deploy a patch to a application that is running.
Michael Coté: Right, right, right.
CJ Paul: And now you can look at the considerations around deploying the patch. When you deploy the patch, what are the business services that are going to be impacted if there is an outage.
Michael Coté: Right, right.
CJ Paul: So this tool provides you both textual as well as graphical feedback. One of the things you will notice here that is unique and differentiating is that, in the industry, most of the Service Desk Tools are essentially just ticketing systems. What we have done here is to take that a level further, to then do additional analytics that take the information in the CMDB, look at the relationships, and then we run rule-based impact assessments, to then show the user what the impacts would be.
Michael Coté: Oh, right. So you can do sort of, what’s the word I am looking for you, you can do sort of — forecasting is the wrong word, but you can kind of — you can do sort of simulations to see what might happen if you deploy a change?
CJ Paul: Yeah.
Michael Coté: Hopefully, helping you avoid breaking things when you make changes.
CJ Paul: Absolutely, yeah. The system actually can Calculate Impacts and show you the results in the Topology View. It can also work off of Historical data. So it combines the knowledge that you gain from different perspectives.
So I am going to switch here so we can take a look at this particular change. And in this particular case, you see that there is an update being made to the WebSphere Application Server, and in the Topology View below, it shows you the particular CIs that are going to be impacted, and the ones that are not going to be impacted.
Michael Coté: Oh, right. And that’s bringing in the Asset Management and other — the Inventory Management that you guys have.
CJ Paul: Yes. So as part of Change Management we can also ensure that if new changes or new software is deployed that we check out the appropriate software licenses before the software is deployed in the environment.
And then for the Change Manager as well as for the rest of the IT staff, we provide real-time visual feedback on the status of the work that is being performed.
So for example, if they wanted to get an understanding of what tasks are complete and what tasks are pending and what tasks are late. In this particular case, you will see that there was a patch being deployed to WebSphere and some of the tasks are complete, there is a particular task that is in progress, and then some other tasks are actually running a little bit behind.
Michael Coté: Oh, right, right. I mean, I assume kind of what’s happened here is, someone has requested some sort of change and the Change Manager, a team came together and charted out, here is what we need to do.
CJ Paul: Exactly!
Michael Coté: These are the steps to deploy that change.
CJ Paul: Yeah.
Michael Coté: And then as a manager they have come in and they can kind of see the, as we would say in the agile world, sort of a radiator of kind of what’s — how things are moving on, and you can actually get a sense of what’s happening and the state of things.
CJ Paul: In real-time, as it progresses.
Michael Coté: Right.
CJ Paul: So hopefully this has given you a quick feel for some of the capabilities of the tool.
Michael Coté: Yeah. Definitely! Well, I appreciate you taking all the time to walk us through that.
CJ Paul: Thank you.
Disclosure: IBM is a client and sponsored these videos.