Sunday, February 22, 2015

Service Manager: The Watch?

2:39 PM Posted by Adam Dzak No comments
I think once you start exploring all of the System Center products, you start seeing this insanely well built and crafted engine from Microsoft. I use engine intentionally here, because if one were to simply install all these systems and simply expect them to work you would be rather disappointed. If I've learned anything simply from just the Service Manager portion of the suite is that there is a ridiculous amount of space to innovate within.

To be fair, when you say Service manager you should be saying Orchestrator within the same breath. These are two products (that you may have already discovered ) that become increasingly dependent on one another. Case in point the idea of some Service Request (let's say Hire a New Employee) that feeds some automation inside of Orchestrator (i.e. take the input from the SR and Create an AD User) before engaging subsequent Review Activities/Manual Activities within SCSM.

While the following is no where near anything I'd call a beta release, it struck me that right now another piece of the System Center suite, Operations Manager, that's responsible for raising alerts about your systems...well it goes without saying provides value. Let me start over:
  • An specific type of alert is raised in Operations Manager
  • Operations Manager takes that Alert and forward into Service Manager to create the Incident with a pre-defined IR template
    • This Incident is generally defined - it has a title, description, classification
  • Because this is a IR template, the template has a stored Runbook activity inside of it waiting to be executed upon IR creation. For example, a printer is hung and Orchestrator tries to restart the print spooler automatically or something. For this example, let's say Orchestrator fails (so clearly, the incident is something else.)
  • Orchestrator now makes the SCSM Incident well defined by changing the Support Group and Assigned To user values
    • Taking advantage of pre-existing workflows in your environment, the Assigned to User gets an email notification.
Now, here's where I want to diverge into a far more real-world scenario. The Assigned To user is out to lunch, out of the office, or away from a computer. What happens now? Sure they get a notification email about "Hey an Incident has just been assigned to you" but what good does that do besides just notify. If as an IT Department you truly want to enable then you probably want to give analysts and department members the ability to work from anywhere. Maybe a phone? Maybe a watch?

The Agent smart watch

The Agent smart watch is a Kickstarter backed device being developed by Secret Labs and House of Horology. In a recent update, it's been made known that Agent 002 development has begun but without House of Horology's involvement. Since this isn't a place for Kickstarter drama, I want to say that while the hardware is still in development the SDK has been made available for all those interested to start building. What makes the Agent so awesome in my eyes is the fact it's based entirely on the .NET framework...err... .NET Micro Framework. The point is - Microsoft technologies. Alight, back to my scenario.

So the analyst who is away from their computer receives the email notification on their phone. But rather than respond to the email and trigger some mechanism (which is a development task in it's own right). Why not push the email/notification to a watch and allow the buttons on the watch the ability to scroll through some available actions? More importantly, trigger those actions? Perhaps it will do nothing more than auto-compose an email back through the phone. Truthfully there are a lot of ways I can think of how the "response" is initiated/parsed. Emails, use native SDKs, or for those utilizing Cireson's (a 3rd party company who with 2 week releases/updates is leading the Service Manager space) portals; make use of their APIs to offer proxy style connectivity to Service Manager through these IIS Web Applications.

As I said, I'm in extremely early development with this but I'm rather attracted to the idea of IT Micromanagement taking place on my wrist.


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