Review: Matrix42 for Integrations

This independent review is part of our Integrations 2013 Group Test.

Executive Summary

Elevator Pitch Extensively focussed on Workplace management with Service Management wrapped around that capability.
Strengths
  • Focus rooted in workplace management, and have invested heavily in their linkage with Airwatch Mobile Device Management  and then have built their Service Management around that
  • When added to their capabilities to integrate with other ITSM and Asset tools – can position themselves well as an IT services broker – an area that seems to lend itself to smaller operators in the market.
Weaknesses
  • A strong European presence but maybe as a European Technology vendor, they lack that presence to make them more global business partners with some of the larger ITSM vendors that they could partner with to leverage their MDM capabilities.
Primary Market Focus Based on the information provided, Matrix42 solutions are used by a range of customers from Small to Large.

Commercial Summary

Vendor Matrix42
Product Matrix42 Workplace Management
Version reviewed 2013
Date of version release May 2013.
Year founded 1992
Customers At least 600 use the Workplace Management Suite globally
Pricing Structure Cloud Hosted or On PremiseMonthly rental or Perpetual licensesLicensed per Managed Device or Per End User
Competitive Differentiators
  1. Matrix 42 offer integration around the management of physical, virtual and mobile devices
  2. Matrix 42 offer their Service Catalogue and Service Desk free with their management product set
  3. They offer integration out-of-the-box with products that are recognised as commonly in place on customers (e.g. SCCM, Active Directory etc.) and also integrate with a number of integrated Service Management suits (ServiceNow, Remedy, Axios among others)

Independent Review

MATRIX42 LOGOMatrix42 centre everything around Workplace management  – in today’s environments, users connect from multiple places using multiple devices and types of systems – physical, virtual and mobile. Matrix42 have made that their focus, and then built their ITSM capability specifically around that core.

In particular they have realised that it is not worth (re)-inventing the wheel and have integrated heavily with Airwatch, an extensive mobile device management product.

For a while now companies have flirted with the sticky topic of mobile devices and people still seem undecided as to whether to embrace the ever-widening range of devices that make their way into the workspace in people’s pockets and bags, or whether to try and restrict what can and cannot be done.

Their approach has been to integrate their management into their licence management – and they put the decision making process in the hands of the end user for more sophisticated management of their workplace.

Their focus on mobile devices gives them quite a lot of control in that environment – for example being able to see if a device has been compromised but the device can then be used to pull down software, lock devices, remove them if staff have left – with that they are embracing the options that organisations are facing as they work out how to manage mobile estates.

They have a nice and simple wizard interface for their data integration and employ some mapping to their data model to clean the data up and thus set up a Master reference.

They have built their pre-defined models based on their own experience in deployments – they have invested a lot of time in developing the wizards to manipulate the data and it has been worth their while.

Like many smaller vendors in the broader ITSM world, they are now able to position themselves to help channel the flow of information between tools – they have developed connectors to large ITSM tools such as ServiceNow and Remedy to facilitate the flow of information.

Their own Service Management interface is efficient enough to get the job done – a no-frills interface with the workflow and automation functionality you would expect from most ITSM tools these days.

Not quite a niche product but refreshing to see a company focus on what it knows it does well, and then look to extend that capability, and it is an intriguing model to make the management the focus with the service aspect the free add-on.

Integration and specific recognised criteria

Matrix 42 offer a number of integration capabilities, based around their product set:

  • Bulk data import engine for generic data – this is used to import data from a number of different sources for example external databases, Excel CSV files, CSV files and other ODBC sources. The system uses staging for data storage and a set of special mapping rules to provide data quality and performance
  • Connectors to third party systems and web services to provide linkage where other systems exist in an organisation
  • Workflow engine to provide the process integration between the tooling and the organisational teams

Security Controls

Matrix 42 adheres to a number of authentication and authorisation protocols and these can be defined with different levels of control, right down to using different roles. All business logic is executed in context of the specific user. In terms of robustness of security, most systems use Integrated Windows Authentication and Kerberos as well as SSL to guarantee secure communication.

Pre-Deployment Integration

Matrix42 will typically connect to Active Directory to import the User base, Machine details for asset management and will take information to help build the logical structure of an organisation (hierarchy, locations, manager information etc.).

They can also connect to other third party systems and can import information (for example Contracts, Purchase Orders, Cost Centres etc.)

Once the data import is complete the data is cleaned up to produce a “Master Data” set that holds a definitive Organisational Structure, Locations, People, Accounts, Assets and that forms the basis of their management and automation efforts.

Asset and Configuration Information

Matrix42 uses its own Asset and Configuration tool (Physical Workplace Management – previously the Empirum product).

They can also connect to other Asset and Configuration tools with out of the box connectors e.g. for Microsoft SCCM.

They integrate with Airwatch for mobile devices, and also have integration options for VMware and Citrix.

Support Services Integration

  • Remote Control

Matrix 42 have their own integrated remote control tool from their console, but can also allow customers to integrate with their own choice of remote control via a command line, including RealVNC.

Additional Areas of Integration

  • Unattended Remote Support

Because there is the capability to launch sessions from CMDB records, it lends itself to Change Request initiated sessions.

  • Video Recording for Knowledge Base

Some organisations extract the video for fixes, and use those to compile knowledge base articles within the ITSM tool.

Matrix42 Service Management Customers

From the Matrix42 Brochure

  • Comprehensive Workplace Management solution
  • Global provider of secure and interconnected management of every mobile, physical and virtual device
  • Comprehensive self-service and compliance solutions

In Their Own Words:

Integrate or Replace? – Now it’s Your Choice

What makes Matrix42 unique is our vision to be an aggregator of technology that interacts with end users. Our solutions help to achieve a great user experience, whilst the Service Desk & related teams maintain control and reap the benefits of automation. We provide our own best of breed software that interacts with the user’s Workplace, but we also integrate out-of-the-box with products like ServiceNow, Airwatch, Microsoft SCCM and Citrix, as well as providing an integration platform for other vendors.

Our strengths are:

1. Simple: Very simple user interface – requires no end user training. Full control over what the end user can see and request. Fully searchable. Our new graphical Workflow Designer allows easy and flexible customisation of request and delivery processes.

2. Interactive: Users and IT can see exactly where their request is in the system, and issue reminders, WITHOUT calling the Service Desk.

3. Intelligent: Requests can be auto authorised, one step, two step, conditional extra step if procurement required and can be dependent on factors such as requestor, cost center, service owner, items in stock, licenses available.

4. Integrated: Out-of-the-box automation for Software Delivery & Configuration of Physical, Virtual & Mobile Devices as well as Active Directory and 3rd party systems.

5. Holistic: Full Contract Management & automated Licensed Software recognition, enables a complete and automated out-of-the-box solution for Software Request, License Compliance, Procurement and Delivery.

Screenshots

This independent review is part of our Integrations 2013 Group Test.

Further Information:

Integrations 2013 Group Test – The Results

integrationsThis is a competitive review of software products and vendors who offer integrations to other technologies and data sources.

Products reviewed:


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Integrations 2013 Best in Class

Integrations 2013 Group Test Best in Class: BDNA
Integrations 2013 Group Test Best in Class: BDNA

BDNA. It is a concept so simple but offers so much value, especially in an IT Service Management environment.

Of the other products reviewed, these areas were of particular note:

  • Specialized Service Management Suites – Best in Class for Integrations: ServiceNow As well as offering a range of connectors and detailed integration guidance, they provide workbooks to help focus pre-deployment across the board, so not just physical users but categories and the additional functions that go to build up a service management platform. Other tools assessed: – Cherwell, Easy Vista and ManageEngine
  • Systems Management Toolsets – Best in Class for Integrations – Absolute Software Their comprehensive approach to a full range of endpoint management with a subtle interface makes it a powerful suite in its market area. Other tools assessed: LANDesk and Matrix42
  • ITSM Value Added Tools – Best in Class for Integrations – BDNA It is a concept so simple but offers so much value, especially in an IT Service Management environment. Other tools assessed: Bomgar, Nexthink

IntegrationsIntroduction

It is all too easy, when looking at ITSM tools, to focus on perhaps the bread and butter functionality that we have all come to know, love and sometimes stumble over in implementation.

Sometimes it seems a secondary concern as to how the information gets there in the first place. As easy as it sounds, and to be honest as easy as it is for the more straightforward commercial engagement, my experiences with some managed service implementations were a different story.

Rigid, unyielding client security policies matched with equally rigid developed methods to load the data, it made the whole affair at times uncomfortable for all. There had to be easier ways.

Of course there are, and not only that but as products sets integrate with more and more third parties, as well as looking for ways themselves to innovate and manoeuvre in the market place, so we find ourselves looking across the wide base of integrations into and out of ITSM tools.

Where once it seemed to be the playground of development teams to come up with imaginative ways to squirt records from one system to another, again especially in large and complex projects, the use of real-time web services makes it easy for tools be less the “king of the castle” and more the glue that holds everything together.

What is perhaps more liberating, for want of a better word, is the range of products that presented themselves for this review.

From niche products that offer very succinct areas of integration to complement the service management function to the more established tool bases that recognise that increasingly they are becoming but one cog in an IT service chain – we take a look at an extensive range of tools and their integration points within IT Service Management.

Market Positioning

For the purposes of this review, vendors were classified based on their primary market focus, and product capabilities.

Target-Market-Size


Vendor

Specialist ITSM Functions

Discovery
Own Tool/Third Party Integration

Event Management & Monitoring
Own Tool/Third Party Integration

Web Services

Niche

Absolute Software

Y

Own/Integration

Own

Y

N

BDNA

N

Integration

N

N

Data as a Service

Bomgar

N

N

N

N

Secure remote support

Cherwell

Y

Own/Integration

Integration

Y

N

EasyVista

Y

Own/Integration

None demonstrated/Listed

Y

N

LANDesk

Y

Own/Integration

Own/Integration

y

N

Manage Engine

Y

Own/Limited Integration

Own

Y

N

Matrix42

Y

Own/Integration

Own

Y

N

Nexthink

N

Integration

Integration

N

Real-time End-user Analytics

ServiceNow

Y

Own/Integration

Integration

Y

N

Competitive Overview

The table below shows a high level overview of the competitive differences between the tools

  • Elevator Pitch – An independent assessment of what this module has to offer
  • Strengths – key positive points, highlighted during the review
  • Weaknesses – challenges or areas perceived to be lacking, during the review
Vendor Elevator Pitch Strengths Weaknesses
Absolute Software A restful and subtle  interface with an inclusive service management solution that wraps around a comprehensive endpoint management solution.
  • They offer a comprehensive set of connectors out of the box to a number of sources
  • An element of true CMDB federation exists by way of their mapping in real time with wizard driven interfaces
  • While they offer a range of innovative integrations for additional support – the current take-up tends to be slow for their market
BDNA If anyone has ever tried to cleanse raw inventory data to build a picture of what is actually installed out there for a managed estate, this product solves all that. Data is brought in whatever format and normalised to identify a standard naming convention, but that is not all. That data then has market intelligence appended to provide the most comprehensive definition for hardware and software
  • BDNA has tapped into Data-as-a-Service and the concept is fiendishly simple – take in data, clean it, classify it to a sensible taxonomy hierarchy and pump it back into ITSM
  • They have extended their reach to Purchase Orders to begin to integrate procurement into a single record of consistently referenced data
  • Their catalogue is free to browse online at www.technopedia.com
  • It sounds too good to be true and that is their biggest challenge – this is something that really works for the medium to large organisations who have the insight to make the investment but may be out of reach of small organisations
Bomgar A niche product that complements ITSM tools with a completely self-contained remote support offering that negates a lot of the issues around security and access
  • Specialises in remote support
  • Completely self-contained within their own supplied orange box
  • A wide range of integrations to some of the biggest ITSM vendors to complement service management end to end
  • It can be difficult to change the mentality of organisations as to why they would need/benefit from an additionally integrated remote support tool, rather than looking for other alternatives.
Cherwell A key understanding of what is required and the ability to provide innovation across the whole organisation – Cherwell show they understand what organisations need and are ready to supply connectors to a wide variety of additional sources of information. A comprehensive solution throughout.
  • Based on their experience – Cherwell cover pretty much everything required in typical deployments – the 80/20 rule – which gets clients running very rapidly but also ticks all the boxes in terms of what is offered versus what is generally required,
  • Recognise areas to offer clients in terms of integration points using elements such as Twitter and RSS.
  • Provide web services inbound bound and a very comprehensive range of connectors to external sources
  • Perhaps missing a trick now in terms of integrating with task management and resource management tools (such as linking with Outlook calendars and tasks for technicians).
Easy Vista A concise interface where simplicity is in the detail. A good application of best practice based on their commercial experience to take a lot of the pain away from pre-deployment set-up and a recognition that brokering service to and from other third parties needs to also be simplified.
  • Purpose built interfaces to import data and interact with third party integrations
  • Use of standard protocols to take away the need for programming capabilities for integration
  • Can integrate to third party search engines including those of third party vendors within the product
  • Their constraints are really tempered by the maturity levels of their customers – but they get around this by offering email integration where perhaps inbound and outbound web service based integration is more advanced. This is maybe indicative of the upper-mid-market segment that they are comfortable in currently.
LANDesk A solid product from a vendor whose roots start in system management and it adds a dimension to what they can offer.
  • Strong event management background
  • Understand that the deployment phase needs structure and the range of materials and consultancy they offer is comprehensive
  • Encompass BYOD with integration and include some neat new innovations
  • LANDesk have put some much needed focus into their service management, and it is at least on a par with almost all the main players but is not as innovative as some of the other approaches they take.
ManageEngine An entry-level ITSM solution with additional features such as Project Management and web services and a range of supporting tools available from the same stable of products.
  • Offers a range of products within their suite to manage across an organisation
  • Nice touch in providing project capability within the ServiceDesk Plus Change function
  • Misses automation in some key areas (CMDB) and not able to view a graphical representation of the process workflow
  • Some integrations rely on purchasing the other proprietary products as opposed to integrating with products organisations may have already.
Matrix42 Extensively focussed on Workplace management with Service Management wrapped around that capability.
  • Focus rooted in workplace management, and have invested heavily in their linkage with Airwatch Mobile Device Management  and then have built their Service Management around that
  • When added to their capabilities to integrate with other ITSM and Asset tools – can position themselves well as an IT services broker – an area that seems to lend itself to smaller operators in the market.
  • A strong European presence but maybe as a European Technology vendor, they lack that presence to make them more global business partners with some of the larger ITSM vendors that they could partner with to leverage their MDM capabilities.
Nexthink A niche product that takes a very different view of management and, when integrated into ITSM, can provide a real-time analytical interface into process for proactive, rather than reactive resolution.
  • Offers a completely different view of information within an enterprise
  • Everything is displayed in real-time and with the integration options to key ITSM tools, the combination really lends itself to large organisations or to those running complex transition projects
  • It takes a huge leap of faith to make a financial commitment to cover this level of end-to-end management and analytical capability – Probably not for the very small organisations.
ServiceNow With a solid base of ITSM processes and an extensive range of partnerships – ServiceNow covers all the bases as to drive organisations towards a single source of truth
  • They recognise that pre-deployment can almost be a project and provide a comprehensive workbook to focus on the data to bring across
  • Very extensive range of integration points through an ever growing partner base
  • A reliance on information imparted through their admittedly extensive wiki – although it has been tidied up and the Books function is a lot more comprehensive, it does create a “hands-off” impression when it comes to actually helping people find out more information.

Customers

Integrations-Number-of-Customers

Analysis

Vendor Functionality Competitive Differentiators Analysis
Absolute Software A subtle interface for a service management solution which has been wrapped around a comprehensive endpoint management system
  • They offer a number of integrated functions within the tool including Remote Control and Chat functions
  • They have focussed a lot of attention on a comprehensive Mobile Device Management strategy across Android and iOS
  • They recognise that everyone has tools and to avoid “swivel-chair management” – they provide connectors to any third party data source.
Absolute brought themselves into the Service Management market to complement their already established endpoint management toolset – to give themselves the complete package.They are in a great position to give some of the more established names in this market segment a real run for their money.
BDNA Data normalisation wrapped up as a service
  • BDNA normalizes data across multiple vendors and feel very confident to be able to offer SLAs on the level of data accuracy and completeness
  • BDNA employ a team to curate and add Market Intelligence to that normalized data
  • They have now applied those same algorithms to Purchase Orders in either structured or unstructured fields – so now information can be tracked from acquisition to retirement.
BDNA have tapped into a way to collect, clean, normalize and propagate data in a quick and seamless way that adds immediate value to any kind of service management environment where accurate data is vital.
Bomgar A secure appliance-based solution for remote access which integrates to key ITSM solutions
  • Bomgar offer arguably the most uniquely secured remote support solution with their Bomgar box– a centralised, security hardened server that never passes data or system access through a third party. It handles standard authentication (e.g. Active Directory), and they offer a number of access controls out of the box, plus extensive audit trails and video recordings of sessions.
  • Their remote support capability extends to almost any device imaginable – desktops, laptops, servers, smartphones and tablets.  They work across Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android and Blackberry systems and devices.
  • They are scalable and typically supply their solutions from small to large environments, enabling collaboration within teams and across external partnerships as offer the ability to remotely support a device from initiated chat support.
Another niche product with a great concept behind it – when large organisations have complex supplier relationships, Bomgar supply a security hardened orange box and integrate with some of the key players in the ITSM industry to provide solidly auditable remote support capability.
Cherwell Comprehensive and established service management tool which provides flexibility to bring together IT and business processes
  • Service automation and innovation through actionable features – a nice touch in particular is being able to create a new incident from an incoming Twitter feed, and exploring using RSS feeds for travelling technicians.
  • Mobile applications (iPad/iPhone) for IT users utilising location services but also recognise that this has a business use as well – allowing service business managers to visit locations making the integration more of a proactive tool
  • Continued ease of use, through effective development of wizards to handle all the integrations.
Cherwell continues to impress with their pragmatic view of IT Service Management, but could be letting easy integration wins pass them by where other competitors are providing value.
Easy Vista Integrated service management and some good areas of value add integration
  • EasyVista encompass their best practices in with their NEOTM platform which removes the need for delving into databases – everything is via easy to navigate interfaces
  • They have a comprehensive list of both inbound and outbound web services to allow them to be the “glue” in the middle of maybe larger, more complex support environments, resulting in real-time data exchanges between systems.
  • They do understand where their market pitch is, and allow for the fact that less mature environments may require more “traditional” email-style integrations for customers with perhaps older systems to integrate with
Ticks the boxes in terms of providing clean interfaces to integrate data and understand that the value they can add as an intermediary in complex support environments
LANDesk A good understanding of what the market needs and a good sense of position
  • LANDesk’s core expertise is rooted in systems management and as such they can provide Total User Management – covering systems management, security management, asset and service management, seamlessly integrated together through a process driven workflow platform.
  • They provide self-service capability accessible to users via desktops and mobile devices
  • They provide a two-way integration between Microsoft Outlook and the service desk to track task assignments
Another vendor coming from a different management background with service management wrapped around it, means they have a solid platform for integration
ManageEngine A basic service management solution with some reasonable integration capability
  • Provide a reasonable level of additional integration (for example web services)
  • Have developed a suite of products to complement the ServiceDesk Plus product set
  • Have added Project Management tracking capability
A good entry level service management solution, and while many other vendors include asset management tooling, their integration in this area perhaps lags behind other vendors
Matrix42 Builds on an established workplace management platform with service management, and throwing a lot of focus on mobile device management built in to that function
  • Matrix 42 offer integration around the management of physical, virtual and mobile devices
  • Matrix 42 offer their Service Catalogue and Service Desk free with their management product set
  • They offer integration out-of-the-box with products that are recognised as commonly in place on customers (e.g. SCCM, Active Directory etc.) and also integrate with a number of integrated Service Management suits (ServiceNow, Remedy, Axios among others)
They take the interesting route of offering their service management free with their workplace management product set – which focuses on putting the power in the hands of the end-user.
Nexthink A real-time view of end-user topology allowing for more proactive problem determination
  • Nexthink provide End-User IT Analytics – the tool analyses data from all the endpoints and extrapolates information from that perspective to identify trouble spots
  • The analysis is in real-time – patterns and any anomalies detected are constantly being evaluated.
  • They turn the end-user and endpoint data into a level of intelligence and insight to sit alongside IT Service Management and offer a level of integration with known vendors to complement them in a number of areas
This power in this tool is the real-time correlation and analysis purely built up from an end-point perspective – and their continuing partnership with some of the biggest names in the ITSM industry should ensure that proactive assessment becomes a norm, but might put it out of reach of the smaller organisations.
ServiceNow Comprehensive Service Management tool with extensive integration capabilities
  • ServiceNow offers not just an extensive range of ITSM capabilities but some non-ITSM but complementary areas (Project & Program Management, Governance Risk Compliance).
  • They are able to call upon a wide range of customers as reference customers, an they have a wide partner base for implementations and integrations
  • They have scored highly in the Gartner ITSSM MQ (20th August 2013) for the Berlin Release.
As well as offering a full range of integration functions as well as their own tooling for asset management, ServiceNow had project management within their tool and partner with companies like Bomgar for remote support. They can resort to pointing at their wiki which feels at times like a slightly “hands-off” approach – even if it has been curated recently.

Deep Dive

Further details for each vendor can be found by using the links below:

Disclaimer, Scope and Limitations

The information contained in this review is based on sources and information believed to be accurate as of the time it was created.  Therefore, the completeness and current accuracy of the information provided cannot be guaranteed.  Readers should therefore use the contents of this review as a general guideline, and not as the ultimate source of truth.

Similarly, this review is not based on rigorous and exhaustive technical study.  The ITSM Review recommends that readers complete a thorough live evaluation before investing in technology.

This is a paid review, that is, the vendors included in this review paid to participate in exchange for all results and analysis being published free of charge, without registration.

For further information, please read the ‘Group Tests’ section, on our Disclosure page.

Review: Cherwell for Integrations

This independent review is part of our Integrations 2013 Group Test.

Executive Summary

Elevator Pitch A key understanding of what is required and the ability to provide innovation across the whole organisation – Cherwell show they understand what organisations need and are ready to supply connectors to a wide variety of additional sources of information. A comprehensive solution throughout.
Strengths
  •  Based on their experience – Cherwell cover pretty much everything required in typical deployments – the 80/20 rule – which gets clients running very rapidly but also ticks all the boxes in terms of what is offered versus what is generally required,
  • Recognise areas to offer clients in terms of integration points using elements such as Twitter and RSS.
  • Provide web services inbound bound and a very comprehensive range of connectors to external sources
Weaknesses
  • Perhaps missing a trick now in terms of integrating with task management and resource management tools (such as linking with Outlook calendars and tasks for technicians).
Primary Market Focus Based on the information provided, Cherwell are typically active in the mid-market but are scalable to Enterprise customersThey are classified for this review as:Specialised Service Management Suite – Offering ITIL processes and proprietary discovery tooling and Data Integration Points

Commercial Summary

Vendor Cherwell
Product Cherwell Service Management®
Version reviewed Version 4.6
Date of version release July 2013
Year founded 2003
Customers 550+
Pricing Structure Saas, Subscription, Perpetual options
Competitive Differentiators
  1. Service automation and innovation through actionable features – a nice touch in particular is being able to create a new incident from an incoming Twitter feed, and exploring using RSS feeds for travelling technicians.
  2. Mobile applications (iPad/iPhone) for IT users utilising location services but also recognise that this has a business use as well – allowing service business managers to visit locations making the integration more of a proactive tool
  3. Continued ease of use, through effective development of wizards to handle all the integrations.

Independent Review

logo_cherwell-softwareCherwell recognise that all points of integration can be applied to any part of the ITSM suite, and that organisations are going to have tools in place and so focus on making the inevitable need to pull in data from external sources as easy as possible.

Integration points are all guided by wizards – even at the start of the pre-deployment, which is in keeping with their fundamental principle that everything should be codeless – so the UI hides the administrator from the backend XML magic that goes on behind the scenes.

Within their admin panel – the customer is created as a business object – which creates a core table in their database and allows the flexible wizard driven interfaces to map across to whatever is required.

There is a lot that can be done with their One-Step macros, that allow simple customisation for repeatable task – a clued-up admin can make light work of many of the pre-deployment and scheduled updates using these customisable objects.

They have utilised some nice new innovative touches to lend itself not only to ITSM staff (travelling technicians being able to use either mobile devices or RSS feeds to pull information depending on their location), but also to continue to build on what IT can offer other business areas – that same technology can be applied to business managers travelling from location to location.

Perhaps an area could still benefit from attention – more and more vendors recognise the value of linking with resource or task-management tools, as tools start to connect with Outlook calendars and put intelligence around task management and more importantly task distribution.

Cherwell very much hold by an 80/20 philosophy in what they offer – and that still provides one of the most comprehensive ITSM and business process suites on the market.

Integration and specific recognised criteria

Cherwell offer the following points of integration with no additional coding required (everything is driven by wizards):

OLE DB

Connect to External Databases – commonly used to pull data from SCCM, LANDesk, SNOW, Lansweeper, CRM data.

Active Directory (and other Directory Services)

Used for Authentication and Data Population (e.g. Customer Contacts)

SAML

SAML (Security Assertion Markup Language) is an XML-based open standard for exchanging authentication and authorization data between Identity Providers and Service Providers to support Single-Sign-On (SSO) capability

Email (POP/SMTP, IMAP, Exchange (EWS))

Used for inbound and outbound electronic communications

Bomgar

Secure Remote Control and Chat

Twitter

Monitor Feeds and Send Tweets

RSS

Monitor Feeds and RSS Query for Cherwell

Web Service

Consume external (WSDL and REST) Web Services via our codeless one-step functionality

File System

Write File and Read File functionality from our codeless one-step functionality

Run program

Run any external program from our codeless one-step functionality – call any program or Powershell script parsing parameters from Cherwell

Cherwell Windows API

Any .Net developer can utilize the Cherwell Windows API to call Cherwell functions and features

Cherwell Web Service

Any .Net developer can utilize the Cherwell Web Services API to call a subset of Cherwell functions and features

Security Controls

Cherwell use the security controls which are governed by the specific type of integration.

Pre-Deployment Integration

Typically Cherwell will look to use Active Directory for contact information to import with all subsequent updates as a scheduled activity.

Asset and Configuration Information

Cherwell has its own Discovery and Inventory to capture data on network devices, printers, windows PCs and devices and Apple MAC workstations, utilising it’s scheduled and automated processes.

Again Cherwell use wizards to handle migrating the collected data into the CMDB including mapping the fields, frequency of updates and so on.

Cherwell also recognise that third party ITAM tools (SCCM, LANDesk, Centennial, SNOW, etc.) are often in place in organisations – they recommend using an External OLE DB Connection method to map, import and schedule updates from external database tables and views into Cherwell.

After the CMDB is populated with information, then a configuration manager can manipulate and maintain the non-auto-discovered aspects of the data and the relationships. That then is used across all the other ITSM processes (e.g. incident, problem, change, etc.)

Support Services Integration

  • Remote Control

Cherwell partners with Bomgar and can use their Chat function in any ITSM and/or business process that has been built into the CSM platform. This allows them the flexibility of linking what would be considered as service management tooling into parts of the business that may not necessarily use the same interfaces (for example HR portals).

  • Social Media

Twitter, Email and RSS are all possible communications methods that can also be incorporated into any of the processes (Business or ITSM processes). The platform used then depends on the kind of process – Major Incident communications might use Twitter and RSS, regular Incident may suffice with email. Cherwell can offer the flexibility depending on an organisation’s requirements.

Additional Areas of Integration

  • Cherwell offer the flexibility to build out business processes (for example to Finance or HR) to help join one part of the business to another. When the industry is constantly looking at ways to show how IT can help the business – this is a useful area of development.
  • Event management – the tendency is for it to be centred around email integration – alerts come in and get converted into an event record from that point.

Cherwell Customers

From the Cherwell Brochure

  • Fully integrated, comprehensive view of the relationships between Incidents, Problems, Changes and other processes and resources.
  • Intuitive wizards and drag-and-drop functionality that allows you to quickly and easily modify processes to match your specific business needs
  • Service management teams move from managing activities to delivering solutions.

In Their Own Words:

Positioned on the 2013 Gartner®  Magic Quadrant for ITSSM tools and recognised by Forrester Research as one of the top three enterprise SaaS ITSM tools worldwide, Cherwell Software is one of the fastest growing IT service management software providers. It has corporate headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo., U.S.A.; EMEA headquarters in Wootton Bassett, U.K.; and a global network of expert partners. Cherwell Software is passionate about customer care and is dedicated to creating “innovative technology built upon yesterday values.”

Its flagship product is Cherwell Service ManagementTM, a fully-integrated service management software solution for IT and technical support professionals with out-of-the-box PinkVERIFY accredited ITIL processes. Its wizard-driven customisation allows customers to tailor the tool to match their processes without writing any code. Cherwell Service Management offers unmatched flexibility in hosting and concurrent licensing for low total-cost-of-ownership.

Please visit www.cherwell.com for more information about Cherwell Software.

Screenshots

Further Information

This independent review is part of our Integrations 2013 Group Test.

Review: EasyVista for Integrations

This independent review is part of our Integrations 2013 Group Test.

Executive Summary

Elevator Pitch A concise interface with easy to understand interfaces shielding the detail behind the scenes, developed from their own deployment and integration experiences.
Strengths
  • Purpose built interfaces to import data and interact with third party integrations
  • Use of standard protocols to take away the need for programming capabilities for integration
  • Can integrate to third party search engines including those of third party vendors within the product
Weaknesses
  • Their constraints are really tempered by the maturity levels of their customers – but they get around this by offering email integration where perhaps inbound and outbound web service based integration is more advanced. This is maybe indicative of the upper-mid-market segment that they are comfortable in currently.
Primary Market Focus Based on the information provided, EasyVista are typically active in the upper mid-market but do look to move to larger enterprise customers.They are classified for this review as:Specialised Service Management Suite – Offering ITIL processes and proprietary discovery tooling and Data Integration Points

Commercial Summary

Vendor EasyVista
Product EasyVista
Version reviewed 2013
Date of version release April 2013
Year founded 1988
Customers 950
Pricing Structure Saas, Names and concurrent options
Competitive Differentiators
  1. EasyVista encompass their best practices in with their NEO platform which removes the need for delving into databases – everything is via easy to navigate interfaces
  2. They have a comprehensive list of both inbound and outbound web services to allow them to be the “glue” in the middle of maybe larger, more complex support environments, resulting in real-time data exchanges between systems.
  3. They do understand where their market pitch is, and allow for the fact that less mature environments may require more “traditional” email-style integrations for customers with perhaps older systems to integrate with

Independent Review

Easy VistaA compact, integrated ITSM solution, which is supported in deployment by EasyVista’s approach of applying best practices based on their own experiences. For example they have designed a simple interface to bring in the depth of information required with intuitive interfaces.

As such they are not averse to adding pre-defined templates to their out-of-the-box offering and it is good to see that vendors will adjust their offering if they learn a new thing or two along the way.

There is no doubting this is a vendor with ambition, and there is nothing wrong with that, but they have also tapped into an area where they realise that maybe smaller vendors can provide a niche glue in between more complex service organisations especially by offering incoming and outgoing web-services (all adhering to established processes).

They offer the ability to interact with, and have interactions from third party tools removing the need for separate development efforts and it offers a level of integration that can sometimes be made overly complicated in large projects.

They made Integration a module in its own right – with a specific interface and the level of thought behind their mapping is impressive. Also worth a mention is the age old bug-bear of different definitions for the same manufacturer (for example HP, Hewlett Packard, Hewlett P) with a Transcription function to have one standard definition in the system.

When the bulk loading function is carried out, the Integration Log not only informs you of how many records were in the operation (as you might expect) but how many errors and (more importantly) which records failed.

What stands out is their approach to simplify the process with a lot of the hard work taken out of the equation and with simple to follow GUIs and wizards to drive you through the process.

Integration and specific recognised criteria

EasyVista uses standard and open technology as much as possible. Integration protocols used by EasyVista are the following, both for inbound (Third party => EasyVista) and outbound (EasyVista => Third party) integrations.

Native integrations:

  • For directory integration, EasyVista also has a native integration with Microsoft Active Directory on top of the generic LDAP integration
  • For email integration, EasyVista also supports Microsoft MAPI on top of the generic SMTP/POP3/IMAP4 email integration.
  • SMS integration is done via integration with third party SMS gateways (for example http://www.fastsms.co.uk/ in the UK or http://cleversms.clever.fr/ in France)

EasyVista are able to offer a large range of inbound and outbound web-services.

Security Controls

Inbound (Third party => EasyVista)

The EasyVista security module (defining users, profiles and domains) is used for direct access to EasyVista, but also for the integration.

Also, EasyVista integration components support the most secure web components. For example, web service integration is done via https supporting web certificates and private keys.

Pre-Deployment Integration

EasyVista comes out of the box with a data source integration module to populate any data an organization would like to make available in EasyVista. It comes with 180 connectors describing the complete database scheme. A graphical interface is available for configuring integrations.

EasyVista also provides integration examples with 50 pre-defined integration models that can be applied instantly.  In addition, an Excel spread sheet with predefined columns for most frequently used fields is available for importing data.

They provide an interface to deal with transcription of manufacturer names (for example multiple definitions of the same manufacturer) so that the organisation can build one standard definition in the system

For these large bulk loads the integration log will then inform you how many records were in the file, how many errors there were in loading and what records were not uploaded.

Asset and Configuration Information

EasyVista includes integrated IT Asset Management discovery capability for collecting hardware and software information. They can also populate that database with data collected by other tools (LANDesk, Microsoft SCCM, etc.)

EasyVista also have an integrated Configuration Management module that manages infrastructure assets – the Asset Management module populates this automatically.

Support Services Integration

  • Remote Control

Parameters from an external tool (for example LogMeIn) are passed into a URL to initiate the session – for example the incident number. At the end of the session, the record is updated and then contains the chat history and any user operations that were carried out.

  • Support Chats/Social Media

EasyVista is built as a chat client, with its own chat engine within the tool and can reach any other chat client – including those on mobile devices.

In reality Chat is usually implemented as a collaborative tool for the IT function.

Additional Areas of Integration

  • Escalation to third parties

Their use of web services is a good example of where incidents can be written to a third party system (for example, where a service has been outsourced to an MSP).

  • Third party search engine integration

EasyVista offer an ability to integrate with third party search engines within the tool – so example MSDN, and vendor wiki pages. When you put that in the context of their extensive inbound and outbound web services capability, this is a handy additional integration point.

  • Email

A nice touch is the flexibility to allow customers with maybe multiple tools and/or complex relationships to have inbound and outbound web services sitting alongside equally complex scenarios achieved with email integration. Customers can utilise the solution that best works for them.

EasyVista Service Management Customers

From the EasyVista Brochure

  • EasyVista IT Service Management is simple, yet comprehensive; highly configurable, yet seamlessly automates upgrades.
  • Developed in alignment with the ITIL best practice framework, EasyVista offers an integrated and modular solution that is designed to support a global, multi-timezone and multi-lingual enterprise.
  • At the heart of EasyVista is EasyVista NEO™, allowing you to easily integrate at a process level with external applications and services, as well as graphically design supporting workflow.

In Their Own Words:

EasyVista Inc. has more than 20 years of experience as a pure player in the IT Management space.   We have been verified in the most recent and prominent PinkVerify program, hold a prominent position in the Gartner ITSSM magic quadrant. In addition, we have one of the world’s most comprehensive cloud infrastructures for ITSM and ITALM, with a Cloud Management Centre that conducts over 1.5 million platform tests each day. We offer multiple languages, currencies and time-zone management in a single implementation.

EasyVista specializes in helping organizations transition from traditional IT Operations Management that was designed for a very different time, to ‘New IT’ Operations Management designed for now and the future. We transform your customer experience, simplify the management of IT, provide visibility and intelligence and help extend workflow automation services beyond IT into other functions within your organization, such as HR, facilities and customer service.

‘New IT’ needs new thinking. We recognize that times have changed and IT is no longer driving user innovation. The services expected from IT are no longer standard and the supporting platforms are no longer exclusively in the IT basement; they are in the cloud, outsourced and mobile.  

With the delivery of many core IT services reliant on external suppliers, EasyVista recognizes that IT is evolving into the “Broker of Service and support.” EasyVista allows you to easily connect and integrate at a process level with external applications and services, as well as graphically design supporting workflow.

Screenshots

Further Information

This independent review is part of our Integrations 2013 Group Test.

Review: ManageEngine for Integrations

This independent review is part of our Integrations 2013 Group Test.

Executive Summary

Elevator Pitch An Mid-Market ITSM solution with additional features such as Project Management and web services and a range of supporting tools available from the same stable of products.
Strengths
  • Offers a range of products within their suite to manage across an organisation
  • Nice touch in providing project capability within the ServiceDesk Plus Change function
Weaknesses
  • Misses automation in some key areas (CMDB) and not able to view a graphical representation of the process workflow
  • Some system integrations are only possible by purchasing other ManageEngine modules rather than using what an organization may already own.
Primary Market Focus Based on the information provided, ManageEngine are typically active in the SMB market, but can also cater for larger customers.They are classified for this review as:Specialised Service Management Suite – Offering ITIL processes and proprietary discovery tooling and Data Integration Points

Commercial Summary

Vendor ManageEngine
Product ServiceDesk Plus
Version reviewed Version 8.2 Build 8211
Date of version release 28th August, 2013
Year founded 2005
Customers 24K
Pricing Structure ServiceDesk Plus has a transparent pricing structure. It is based on number of nodes and technicians. Pricing that has been included for the On-Premise version is:Standard Edition – Free up to 5 technicians foreverProfessional Edition – Starts at $395 (5 technicians)Enterprise Edition – Starts at $995 (5 technicians)

The prices for the On-Demand SaaS Version are:

Standard Edition – $14 per tech per month

Professional Edition: $24 per tech per month

£9 per month for a pack of 50 assets

Enterprise Edition – $54 per tech per month

$9 per month for a pack of 50 assets

 

The prices for the Managed Services Helpdesk are:

Standard Edition – $595

Professional Edition – $1195

Enterprise Edition – $3495

Competitive Differentiators
  1. Provides a reasonable level of additional integration (for example web services)
  2. Have developed a suite of products to complement the ServiceDesk Plus product set
  3. Have added Project Management tracking capability
Additional Features ServiceDesk Plus is available in 29 different languages.

Independent Review

sdp-logo-small-size

ManageEngine supplies plenty of integration methods into the tool, offering a complementary set of products to make that process easier, although they also recognise a need to have open integration methods between ITSM tools. They do include some Project Management tracking capability as an additional layer to their offering.

Integration and specific recognised criteria

ServiceDesk Plus is ITIL Ready and includes Incident, Problem, Change, CMDB and Service Catalog.

ServiceDesk Plus makes use of web API standards which they have incorporated into their Request and Change modules.

Data can be added, modified, deleted and created into ServiceDesk Plus and outbound to other vendors via web services.

Process automation is controlled by business rules and the product comes with a comprehensive set of pre-set templates for most basic functions, as well as the ability to create additional ones and customise templates for an environment.

Security Controls

ManageEngine applies the authorisation that is expected in a tool to allow specific roles to view data within their scope.

Pre-Deployment Integration

There are a number of ways that ServiceDesk Plus can bring in data. The product connects to Active Directory to import user data, department information, location, and management hierarchies in bulk, but a CSV file can be used as well.

The relationships for the user with various configuration items are also imported and provided in a couple of views (list and map).

ServiceDesk Plus also provides LDAP integrations for a single sign-on.

Asset and Configuration Information

ServiceDesk Plus comes with an integrated asset management module for the tracking and management of assets in an organisation, and can covers IT and Non-IT assets.

The CMDB is actually a separate module and built up with the combination of user relationship and the collected asset data.

At the moment, though the relationship association needs to be done manually.

They do not offer integration to third party products but can import CSV values.

Support Services Integration

  • Remote Control

There is a web-based remote control which technicians can use to access and troubleshoot a user’s workstation from their desk through a remote session.  It supports either ActiveX or Java plug-ins.

  • Support Chats/Social Media

Integration is with their own Desktop Central product to provide a chat, which is mmore closely tied with management options for the desktop (for example software distribution).

Resource Management Integration

Projects can be created from a change record – these contain tasks and milestones. There is also a time-sheet facility that records how long tasks have taken.

Projects can be presented in a Gantt chart view or graphically, showing milestones and dependencies between tasks.

Additional Areas of Integration

  • Network Monitoring Alerts

Integration is with their network monitoring tool OpManager – alarms detected raise records in ServiceDesk Plus, and technicians can informed via notification profiles whenever an alarm is triggered.

  • DesktopCentral

Integration exists with their own proprietary desktop management server to help remotely deploy patches, software and managing assets, including mobile devices.

ServiceDesk Plus Customers

From the ServiceDesk Brochure

  • Help desk software with integrated asset and project management built on the ITIL framework.
  • There is an MSP version designed to handle multiple accounts in a single Help Desk.

In Their Own Words:

ServiceDesk Plus is a help desk product suite with integrated asset and project management capabilities built on the ITIL framework. ServiceDesk Plus provides help desk agents and IT managers, an integrated console to monitor and maintain the assets and IT requests generated by users. More than 20,000+ IT managers worldwide in 186 countries use ServiceDesk Plus to manage their IT help desk and assets. ServiceDesk Plus is available in 29 different languages.

ServiceDesk Plus is also featured in the new Gartner Magic Quadrant 2013 for ITSSM Tools.

Some of the features include

  • IT Project Management
  • CMDB
  • Self Service Portal
  • SLA Management
  • Knowledge Base
  • Incident Management
  • Problem Management
  • Change Management
  • Software Asset Management
  • Asset Discovery
  • Agent and Agentless scans
  • Service Catalog
  • Business Rules
  • Helpdesk Notifications
  • Purchase Order Management
  • Automatic Ticket dispatch
  • Contract Management
  • Mobile Help Desk App  & Voice Based iPhone App
  • Reports – 150+ Standard and Custom reports options
  • User Surveys

Screenshots

Further Information

This independent review is part of our Integrations 2013 Group Test.

Review: Nexthink for Integrations

This independent review is part of our Integrations 2013 Group Test.

Executive Summary

Elevator Pitch In the emerging IT management category ITOA (IT Operations Analytics) Nexthink provides a very different view and, when integrated into ITSM, can provide a real-time analytical interface into processes for proactive, rather than reactive management.
Strengths
  •  Offers a completely different view of information within an enterprise
  • Everything is displayed in real-time and with the integration options to key ITSM tools, the combination really lends itself to larger organisations and those running complex migration/transformation projects
Weaknesses
  • As ITOA is a new category, it requires financial commitment from other departments to cover this level of end-to-end management and analytical capability – Probably not for the very small organisations.
Primary Market Focus Based on the information provided, Nexthink’s customer base is more focussed on larger companies.They are classified for this review as:Specialised tooling, requiring integration to ITSM.

Commercial Summary

Vendor Nexthink
Product Nexthink V4
Version reviewed V4.4
Date of version release May 2nd, 2013
Year founded 2004
Customers 450+
Pricing Structure # of Physical and Virtual Endpoints/Desktops# of Citrix UsersPerpetual and SubscriptionDiscount for volumeMSP/SaaS pricing is available to partners that want to deliver End-user IT Analytics as a service
Competitive Differentiators
  1. Nexthink provide End-User IT Analytics – the tool analyses data from all the endpoints and extrapolates information from that perspective to identify trouble spots.
  2. The analysis is in real-time – patterns and any anomalies detected are constantly being evaluated.
  3. They turn the end-user and endpoint data into a level of intelligence and insight to sit alongside IT Service Management and offer a level of integration with known vendors to complement them in a number of areas.

Independent Review

thumbnailThere is something always beguiling when products talk of heat-maps and show dynamic visions of where network paths are failing, and to see it in real-time brings out the magpie in technical reviewers.

Starting at the top, they provide a customisable dashboard that would catch the eye of CIOs and the review got to examine a little more breadth to the product.

In essence a driver agent is sent to all target endpoints and it sends the real-time data back to their own engine where the information can be shown in a dashboard display of high level information about the number of issues. The collector can even send back information when the endpoint’s CPU is overwhelmed.

Applications for end-points can be profiled before a rollout – for example testing out builds on particular hardware to see how effective the build is for machines.

Once you come away from the high level dashboard, there are detailed “heat-maps” that begin to show you where issues are building up, and specific trouble area can be drilled into. These lower level graphics are typically what operations centre staff and advanced technical support will get the real value from.

The level of intelligence to extrapolate information, purely from the end-point perspective is what makes the product stand out.

Whilst the product can stand on its own merits, its real value is when it is integrated with ITSM and their partnership framework opens up the right doors for the company. Nexthink have integrated with leading ITSSM tools including BMC/Remedy, LANDesk and ServiceNow.

Their value is to help organisations to see the big picture and enlightened organisations are realising that they need this more holistic view.

Integration and specific recognised criteria

Nexthink have worked to develop an ITSM Solution Pack that maps their capabilities with 17 of the 28 ITIL 2011 processes.

They are not an ITSM tool, but they recognise that the real value of their product comes with integration into key ITIL processes.

Security Controls

They have also developed a Nexthink Security Solution Pack and have mapped the product with leading security standards.

Asset and Configuration Information

Their integration partners include: Microsoft SCCM, Symantec/Altiris, LANDesk, Matrix42

They bring in the information to help build up their picture of the end-point interactions.

Additional Areas of Integration

  • Event Correlation

Nexthink have integrated with Event Correlation Engines with companies such as BMC, CA/Nimsoft, HP and IBM).

Because they report the global end-user events, they can correlate those to show in real time which server is affected (the Nexthink collector is only placed on endpoints).

  • Security

Nexthink can also add an extra measure of vulnerability assessment and can assist with compliance testing.

  • Transformation

An ideal area for consideration is the use of Nexthink for large, complex Transformation projects – combined with standard ITSM tooling the combination can provide much better guidance on what is going to be involved with a large transformation project.

Nexthink Service Management Customers

From the Nexthink Brochure

  • Innovator of End-user IT Analytics for security, ITSM and workplace transformation.
  • Self-learning and artificial intelligence constructs meaningful patterns and IT analytics – patterns are analysed in real time (every minute), enterprise wide.
  • What makes Nexthink unique is the real-time analytics of all executions and all network connections and the corresponding visualisation that provides new visibility and insight at that moment in time.

In Their Own Words:

Nexthink is the innovator of End-user IT Analytics for security, ITSM and transformation.  Nexthink turns end-user and endpoint data into intelligence and insights. Our software uniquely provides enterprise-wide, real-time analytics covering all endpoints, all users, all applications and all network connections with visibility into your IT infrastructure and service delivery.  Nexthink helps IT Departments connect, communicate and collaborate to achieve their major goals and to optimize endpoint security, operations, support, and workplace transformation projects.  Nexthink real-time analytics and visualization extend help desk, server monitoring, APM (application performance management) and PCLM (PC lifecycle management) tools and provides essential visibility for IT Governance.

Nexthink serves mid-size and enterprise companies utilizing a leveraged partner model.  Nexthink is a registered trademark of Nexthink SA. To learn more, visit http://www.nexthink.com

 Screenshots

Further Information

This independent review is part of our Integrations 2013 Group Test.

Review: ServiceNow for Integrations

This independent review is part of our Integrations 2013 Group Test.

Executive Summary

Elevator Pitch With a solid base of ITSM processes and an extensive range of partnerships – ServiceNow covers all the bases as to drive organisations towards a single source of truth
Strengths
  •  They recognise that pre-deployment is a project and provide a comprehensive workbook to focus on the data to bring across
  • Very extensive range of integration points through an ever growing partner base
Weaknesses
  • A reliance on information imparted through their admittedly extensive wiki – although it has been tidied up and the Books function is a lot more comprehensive, it does create a “hands-off” impression when it comes to actually helping people find out more information.
Primary Market Focus Based on the information provided, ServiceNow are typically active in the Mid-Large market.They are classified for this review as:Specialised Service Management Suite – Offering ITIL processes and proprietary discovery tooling and Data Integration Points

Commercial Summary

Vendor ServiceNow
Product ServiceNow IT Service Automation Suite
Version reviewed Calgary
Date of version release Calgary release was: May 2013
Year founded 2004
Customers 1778 customers at the end of June 2013. (Importantly these are enterprise or upper mid-market level customers with a minimum of 35 process user subscriptions.)
Pricing Structure Pricing is user based. There are additional costs for certain enhanced capabilities such as discovery, orchestration and the ServiceNow Service Application Platform.
Competitive Differentiators
  1. ServiceNow offers not just an extensive range of ITSM capabilities but also some non-ITSM and complementary areas (Project & Portfolio Management, IT Governance Risk Compliance).
  2. They are able to call upon a wide range of customers as reference customers, and they have a wide partner base for implementations and integrations
  3. They have scored highly in the Gartner ITSSM MQ (20th August 2013) for the previous Berlin Release.

Independent Review

ServiceNowlogo_STANDARD_RGB_226px_122012

ServiceNow take the approach of supplying a large base of integration points to keep up with an ever-growing partner-base, but what impressed was their pre-deployment approach as a project in its own right. They take a comprehensive approach and cover all bases, recognising that many tools make up part of an overall solution.

Integration and specific recognised criteria

ServiceNow integrates with a wide range of third party applications and data sources. As you would expect the most common integrations are with CMDB, Incident Management, Problem Management, Change Management, User Administration, and Single Sign-on.

They adhere to a number of best practice techniques and standards including Web Services, JDBC, LDAP, CSV, RSS Feeds and email and use industry standard technologies (SOAP, REST and WSDL).

Security Controls

  • A ServiceNow implementation connects from a single machine using a fixed IP address and through a specific port on your firewall. This allows firewalls to limit all traffic to a particular IP address and communications port.
  • Many integrations communicate over the HTTPS protocol. This ensures that all communications are encrypted, providing a reasonable guarantee that one is communicating with precisely the web site that one intended to communicate with (as opposed to an imposter), as well as ensuring that the content between the user and site cannot be read or forged by any third party.
  • Mutual Authentication (Single sign-on (SSO)) and other login techniques provide user verification and role assignment.
  • Access Control Lists (ACLs) provide protection of assets that do not need to be exposed in integration processing.
  • The High Security Plugin provides additional security controls.

Pre-Deployment Integration

ServiceNow recognise that deployment in itself is a project and have a plan to collect and load specific information – and provide a workbook for the information to be collected.

Core Data – Users, groups, categories, priorities, locations and other organisational data – a data collection workbook allows organisations to gather the information, and ensure it is clean before bringing it across.

CMDB/Asset Data – this can also be imported in through the spreadsheet or via integration with third party discovery or inventory tools (see section below)

Knowledge – data from existing systems may be imported if it is useful and current

Ticket Information – generally not “live” tickets but sometimes it is necessary to import historical records across – again mostly for knowledge, audit or compliance purposes.

AD/LDAP – Access through LDAP and advice of setting it up is available on their wiki.

Asset and Configuration Information

The spreadsheet can be used, and integration points include:

  • Microsoft SCCM
  • Altiris
  • LANDesk

CMDB Integration exists with BMC, HP and IBM CMDBs.

Support Services Integration

  • Remote Control

ServiceNow partner with Bomgar, who incorporate a specific button either within the End-User view to get support, or for the Service Desk to initiate a session that is recorded and all details are captured within the record.

  • Support Chats/Social Media

The Bomgar integration also includes a chat function which can be recorded into a record, even if a remote control session is not initiated.

Resource Management Integration

ServiceNow provide a visual timeline and project function within the tool, which handles tasks, documentation attachments and lends itself to Change Management and projects around large transitions.

It can use Outlook and any actions are managed as part of the ServiceNow Task Engine.

Additional Areas of Integration

  • Monitoring/Event Management

This area is one of the most common integration requirements and ServiceNow have a large range of integration points for areas including:

  • Incident Ticketing Integration
  • Event Management Integration
  • Integration with other Service Management Tools (e.g. Remedy, HP Openview, Microsoft SCOM, CA, NetCool

This is just a small selection of the integration points, with links to any number of their integrations within their Wiki.

ServiceNow Customers

From the ServiceNow Brochure

  • Create a single system of record that replaces redundant systems and eliminates the dependency on regional installations of client server software – Enable globalisation through standardisation.
  • Give employees an online storefront experience when interacting with IT. Benefit from a structured support process to drive higher levels of efficiency and customer satisfaction
  • Replace manual and time-consuming tasks with automation. Capture expertise in a repeatable and consistent automation workflow.

In Their Own Words:

“ServiceNow is the enterprise IT cloud company.  We transform IT by automating and managing IT service relationships across the global enterprise.  Organizations deploy our service to create a single system of record for IT and automate manual tasks, standardize processes and consolidate legacy systems.  Using our extensible platform, our customers create custom applications and evolve the IT service model to service domains inside and outside the enterprise.  ServiceNow transforms IT from the department of no to the department of now.”

Screenshots

Further Information

This independent review is part of our Integrations 2013 Group Test.

Review: Bomgar for Integrations

This independent review is part of our Integrations 2013 Group Test.

Executive Summary

Elevator Pitch A niche product that complements ITSM tools with a completely self-contained remote support offering that negates a lot of the issues around security and access
Strengths
  • Specialises in remote support
  • Completely self-contained appliance
  • A wide range of integrations to some of the biggest ITSM vendors to complement service management end-to-end.
Weaknesses
  • It can be difficult to change the mentality of organisations as to why they would need/benefit from an additionally integrated remote support tool, rather than looking for other alternatives.
Primary Market Focus Based on the information provided, Bomgar solutions are used by a range of customers from Small to Large.

Commercial Summary

Vendor Bomgar
Product Bomgar
Version reviewed Bomgar 13.1
Date of version release July 9 2013
Year founded 2003
Customers 7500
Pricing Structure Appliance-based (physical or virtual).Pricing starts at $1,188. Bomgar’s concurrent licensing model is based on simultaneous technician usage. Support organisations only need licenses for the number of technicians who will be logged in at one time, increasing ROI for organisations that provide around-the-clock support.
Competitive Differentiators
  1. Bomgar offer arguably the most uniquely secured remote support solution with quite literally their Bomgar orange box – a centralised, security hardened appliance that never passes data or system access through a third party. It handles standard authentication (e.g. Active Directory), and they offer a number of access controls out of the box, plus extensive audit trails and video recordings of sessions.
  2. Their remote support capability extends to almost any device imaginable – desktops, laptops, servers, smartphones and tablets.  They work across Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android and Blackberry systems and devices.
  3. They are scalable and typically supply their solutions from small to large environments, enabling collaboration within teams and across external partnerships as offer the ability to remotely support a device from initiated chat support.

Independent Review

PrintAn appliance-based solution that allows you to remotely support almost any device anywhere in the world. It sounds actually too good to be true, when you think of complex organisations, often dealing with third party support contracts, but everything that Bomgar set up is all contained in a specifically hardened appliance that complies with an organisations security requirements, inside their firewall.

The front end that is presented to an organisation is customisable, and where Bomgar is integrated with major ITSM tools (their solution allows them to be tool agnostic) the support function blends in like part of the furniture.

Upgrades to the box are prepared by the mother-ship and sent down so that customers can apply it in accordance to their own schedules, so as not to flood the infrastructure.

Bomgar is a niche remote support offering complementing what the big ITSM players offer. Auditability and tracking within records of chats and sessions are a given, but the potential for the use of video-recording sessions lend themselves to more informative knowledge-base materials. But more than that – it opens the way for complex change management to be monitored and played back in case of failure, to make the rollback procedures (if required) perhaps easier for all concerned.

There are some aspects that might (in a cynical, outsourced and off-shored world) feel like big brother is watching you but where organisational support relationships are increasingly more complex, as are the business drivers they protect, it is perhaps additional belt and braces in a newer IT world.

Their biggest challenge is that of persuading organisations of their value alongside significant ITSM investment – what they do is allow you to provide additional and integrated support on what has already been done.

Integration and specific recognised criteria

At its core, the Bomgar offering is focussed around remote support and chat capabilities that can be integrated with ITSM systems. Remote support sessions and/or chat sessions can be launched directly from the ITSM console – no need to use a separate one, and is most likely used within Incidents, but can be extended to Change Management.  Everything discussed in that session is captured in a secure audit trail and incorporated in the related records within the ITSM tool.

Security Controls

Both the end-user and the support staff connect to the Bomgar box through outbound connections which keeps the system access secure. Session data is guarded by SSL encryption, and once the support session is over, Bomgar uninstalls itself, leaving no footprint on the remote system. But the entire session (remote support, chat and/or video) is captured and fed back to the ITSM ticket so it is possible to track who carried out which action, and when.

Asset and Configuration Information

Support can be provided to attended and unattended systems so a remote support session can be launched directly from an asset within the ITSM tool’s CMDB.

Support Services Integration

  • Remote Control

Bomgar differentiate between what an end user sees and how a support technician sees the same interface – use of language to make it less technical for the end user. They provide functionality that is integrated to the ITSM system to view and control the end user system, and can be initiated from the chat session.

  • Major Incidents Communications

They offer a “Team Chat” function only for technicians – and as with all the other functions they offer – everything is captured and logged. There is also an intriguing aspect – especially in complex environments where changes may require collaboration with third parties.

  • Support Chats

For user initiated chats, the session is opened within the context of their record automatically, with all the interactions recorded.

The chat records show how long the end user may expect to wait for attention – they can empower the end user to take control of the situation – do they want for someone to respond, or do they go to self-service, open a request and wait for one to be initiated to them.

Additional Areas of Integration

  • Unattended Remote Support

Because there is the capability to launch sessions from CMDB records, it lends itself to Change Request initiated sessions. Where a reboot is required, Bomgar just re-establishes the connection to continue the support process.

  • Video Recording for Knowledge Base

Some organisations extract the video for fixes, and use those to compile knowledge base articles within the ITSM tool.

Bomgar Service Management Customers

From the Bomgar Brochure

  • Bomgar’s remote support solution enables you to remotely access and fix nearly any device, running any platform, located anywhere in the world.
  • Control multiple systems, chat with multiple end-users, and collaborate with other reps to fix problems faster.
  • Unlike old-school point-to-point remote access tools and cloud-based solutions, Bomgar routes all activity through a secure appliance that sits behind your firewall.

In Their Own Words:

Bomgar is the leader in enterprise remote support solutions, which allow technicians to securely access and fix nearly any system, including Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, and BlackBerry devices, and unattended systems, such as kiosks, POS systems, servers and routers. Bomgar helps IT organisations speed response times, increase staff productivity, improve security, and resolve incidents more efficiently and cost-effectively.

Designed for the enterprise, Bomgar understands the unique challenges of securely supporting numerous systems and employees around the world.

  • Security: The Bomgar appliance includes 50+ support representative permissions, and captures a comprehensive audit trail and video recording of every support session.
  • Collaboration: Bomgar allows support technicians to bring experts into a remote support session to swarm around an issue, speeding time to resolution and increasing customer satisfaction.
  • Integrations: Bomgar offers pre-built integrations with the leading IT Service Management vendors to streamline the support process and ensure all activity is captured in a single location.
  • Multi-Platform: Bomgar allows support technicians to use one, centralised solution to support nearly any type of device or operating system, which helps IT organisations provide a consistent support experience across desktops, laptops and mobile devices.

Today, more than 7,500 customers across 65 countries have chosen Bomgar to significantly improve operational efficiency and customer satisfaction. Bomgar clients include some of the world’s leading IT outsourcers, systems integrators, software vendors, healthcare organisations, government institutions, colleges and universities and financial institutions.

Screenshots

Further Information

This independent review is part of our Integrations 2013 Group Test.

Review: LANDesk for Integrations

This independent review is part of our Integrations 2013 Group Test.

Executive Summary

Elevator Pitch A solid product from a vendor with expertise in both ITSM and systems management, which adds a dimension to what they can offer.
Strengths
  • Strong event management background
  • Understand that the deployment phase needs structure and the range of materials and consultancy they offer is comprehensive
  • Encompass BYOD with integration and include some neat new innovations
  • Integration/Automation platform through a graphical process workflow.
Weaknesses
  • LANDesk have put some much needed focus into their service management, and it is at least on a par with almost all the main players.
Primary Market Focus Based on the information provided, LANDesk are typically active in the mid-large market.They are classified for this review as:Specialised Service Management Suite – Offering ITIL processes and proprietary discovery tooling and Data Integration Points

 Commercial Summary

Vendor LANDesk
Product LANDesk Service Desk
Version reviewed 7.6.1
Date of version release July 2013
Year founded 1985
Customers ~1000
Pricing Structure Service Desk Concurrent AnalystService Desk Fixed AnalystService Desk SaaS Concurrent AnalystService Desk SaaS Fixed AnalystAlternatively available as part of LANDesk Total User Management suite : complete portfolio of integrated ITSM, Systems, Security, Mobility, Asset management solutions.

Licensed only by end user (not by number of devices or IT Users).

 

Competitive Differentiators
  1. LANDesk’s offer experience in ITSM and beyond that, systems management and as such they can provide Total User Management – covering systems management, security management, asset and service management, seamlessly integrated together through a process driven workflow platform.
  2. They provide self-service capability accessible to users via desktops and mobile devices
  3. They provide a two-way integration between Microsoft Outlook and the service desk to track task assignments

Independent Review

thumbnail (1)LANDesk combine experience across ITSM and include systems management, which comes to the fore with their approach to integrating one of the harder disciplines into their Service Management capability.

They have a good understanding of the way the market has moved in recent times – offering web services and because of their broader background, they not only lend their product but their in-house expertise to understanding what to integrate.

The focus of the solution is to be directly productive, and it is good to see them almost embrace BYOD capability – their focus is delivery of what IT does into the hands of the user.

What they have done well is to identify some neat little innovations and put some lateral thought about how these can be used. For example the use of RSS feeds to provide assignment updates to technicians and the use of QR codes to perform simple actions on processes (create/close a record). Whilst the take-up may be slow in some cases – they are ready for when the first organisation(s) latch on to the ideas.

LANDesk have developed their product to offer the same service management capability as the majority of vendors in the industry, and they provide integration and automation built in to their graphical process workflow.

They should take the opportunity to shine the light on the other bushels in their pack – not everyone can boast all 15 processes and that gives them an interesting depth in their section of the market.

Integration and specific recognised criteria

LANDesk Service Desk has been Pink Verified against the maximum 15 verifiable processes :-

The product uses ITIL terminology throughout the product, and the comprehensive coverage of all the process means they cover the bases in terms of recommended approaches and supporting practices.

Security Controls

A comprehensive matrix of permissions apply across every action and activity in the Service Desk product, so ability to perform actions will only appear for an analyst when they have this right.

Other integrations use workflow and process definition which ensures that only the right activity can take place in a secure and controlled fashion.

All integration activities are typically audited as standard design.

Pre-Deployment Integration

LANDesk is another vendor that also employs some level of sense checking as well as pure automation methods to bring across data, including:

Customer Profile Document

Introductory phone call and Project Kick-off meeting

Data collection spreadsheet which shows all the different typical default areas of data collected and imported

Workshops

In addition connectors to Active Directory, LANDesk Management Suite, Microsoft SQL, Oracle, Excel, Access, OLEDB all allow connection to other typical sources for import

Asset and Configuration Information

LANDesk Service Desk provides preconfigured integration to populate the CMDB, to import ITAM managed assets and to update any existing items. Their features include:

  • Unlimited field definitions and CI types
  • Asset/CI relationships can be imported into CI structure diagrams
  • Asset/CI relationships can be discovered and defined with a rules-engine.

Assets and CIs are accessible from all ITSM processes, updated under change management, and can be imported back to source tools from Service Desk updates.

They also provide an inventory lookup – in Systems Management focussed discovery, the tool will typically pick up all manner of information that is not required for Configuration Management – the Inventory lookup facility shows you the full detail.

Support Services Integration

  • LANDesk include (but are not limited to) their own IT Management tools supported in context:
    • Remote Control
    • Inventory Lookup
    • Software Deployment
    • Chat
    • Ping
    • Patch/Security Scan
  • As part of Request Fulfilment, Release, Change, and Incident they provide integration as part of process activity in the background. This drives self-service and IT-initiated process automation across the business, providing, for example integrated:
    • Software Deployment
    • AD Data Management
    • Mobile device wipe and other admin functions
    • Security scan, patch, OS deploy, among other functions
  • Major Incidents Communications
    • RSS – any query of data, list or dashboard gadget can be converted into an RSS feed that can be pulled on demand using any commercial standard RSS client.
    • Major Incidents are typically distributed through: Product Dashboards, Email, RSS and Twitter
  • Support Chats/Social Media
    • Core social discussion and chat features are provided as standard as well as integration through APIs and Automation is provided on request for:
      • Enterprise Social Platforms (e.g. BlueKiwi)
      • Twitter
      • Facebook
      • Jive
      • These are the basis of LANDesk’s Social Content Pack, including Discussion Threads and a Chat function within Self-Service.
      • LANDesk make use of RSS feeds which can take any view of the data and publish it as a feed to be incorporated into dashboards

Resource Management Integration

LANDesk provides two-way integration between Microsoft Outlook and the Service Desk. Assignments can be dragged and dropped to individuals or groups taken from live Outlook calendar as Gantt style views.

Assigned work appears as appointments in Outlook calendars or as tasks and once updated in Outlook, the work item in Service Desk is updated too.

Additional Areas of Integration

  • Event Management

LANDesk Event Manager provides a configurable, flexible interface to allow current and future monitoring and alerting systems to interact with the service desk.

The Event Management engine captures significant issues within the infrastructure and automatically logs prioritises and routes Incidents to the appropriate analyst team. This alerts the relevant team of issues, even before end users become aware of them, thereby increasing the chance of early resolution and minimizing impact on the user community.

  • QR

Another neat innovation is the use of QR codes – for example putting integration with simple process actions such as creating or closing records – whilst take up might be few and far between at the moment, it is a way of tapping into an increasingly mobile workforce to speed up tasks.

LANDesk Customers

From the LANDesk Brochure

  • An integrated solution for systems management, endpoint security, mobility and ITSM (premise, cloud or both).
  • Easiest ITIL path for increasing end-user productivity
  • One price per end-user – unlimited devices, including BYOD

In Their Own Words:

LANDesk Service Desk is a process-driven IT Service Management software solution that can be deployed as an on-premise, SaaS or hybrid solution. It delivers all of the core ITSM functionality expected from a market-leading solution. Service Desk is ITIL®-verified in 15 processes, including incident, request, self-service, change, and knowledge management and provides powerful multi-level reporting.

LANDesk Service Desk provides a rich end-to-end service management platform that not only supports core service management, but enables your IT organization’s high-level business goals, from basic resolution management to mature service portfolio management, capacity and availability optimization, and continuous service improvement. It integrates seamlessly with your systems and network management environments, including all LANDesk solutions for systems lifecycle management and endpoint security.

The solution’s out-of-the-box functionality is easily configurable to match specific business needs without coding. It helps enterprise IT organizations move swiftly from a reactive state to a more controlled, proactive, and service-oriented posture.  They improve the availability and continuity of services and the productivity of service desk staff and users, while reducing the time-to-restoration, downtime expense, and service-related business risk.

Screenshots

Further Information

This independent review is part of our Integrations 2013 Group Test.

Review: Absolute Software for Integrations

This independent review is part of our Integrations 2013 Group Test.

Executive Summary

Elevator Pitch A restful and subtle interface with an inclusive service management solution that wraps around a comprehensive endpoint management solution.
Strengths
  •  They offer a comprehensive set of connectors out of the box to a number of sources
  • An element of true CMDB federation exists by way of their mapping in real time with wizard driven interfaces
Weaknesses Like many vendors they are beginning to explore new areas of innovation – take-up can be slow within the customer base. They are finding a similar dilemma for other vendors in that it takes one enterprising organisation to start embracing an element for it to fly.
Primary Market Focus Based on the information provided, Absolute Software typically sell to medium-large organizations.They are classified for this review as:Specialised Service Management Suite – Offering ITIL processes and proprietary discovery tooling and Data Integration Points

Commercial Summary

Vendor Absolute Software
Product Absolute Service
Version reviewed 8.0
Date of version release September 10, 2013
Year founded 1993
Customers ~1,200
Pricing Structure Pricing is based on the number of technicians
Competitive Differentiators
  1. They offer a number of integrated functions within the tool including Remote Control and Chat functions
  2. They have focussed a lot of attention on a comprehensive Mobile Device Management strategy across Android and iOS
  3. They recognise that everyone has tools and to avoid “swivel-chair management” – they provide connectors to any third party data source.

 Independent Review

Absolute SoftwareAbsolute come from a mature security endpoint management point of view and so for a company that made all its money through licencing, they have gained an ITSM partner, via acquisition and now have 10 ITIL 11 processes to their name and they use ITIL terminology on their Tabs.

The majority of their revenue is focussed on licencing, and the focus on the product is for ease of deployment and not as much reliance on selling the supporting services.

It is a refined looking interface with a subtle use of colours to make records standout and they provide a lot of integration out of the box – their ethos is very much focussed on getting the job done.

Their background is recovery, compliance and security and their coverage to manage endpoints covers all bases.

They partnered with and acquired the Livetime service management solution but in addition they developed their mobile device management.

As such they do offer the full package on a smaller scale than some of the big hitters and they offer everything you would expect.

Even though they have heavily integrated their own product suites into their service management solution, they recognise that they are competing in markets where a vast array of tools exist.

They offer the ability to connect to any third party data source, and focus on allowing that data to be manipulated, mapped and managed within Absolute. They offer possibly the truest federation of data in a CMDB and recommend using their wizard driven interface to manage the incoming data.

There is something to be said for the restful design of their service management interface. Somehow the subtle colour coding works effectively when compared to perhaps more vibrant displays.

Integration and specific recognised criteria

Absolute Service comes with the ability to integrate into many different systems using their proprietary Asset Management Integration Engine – this allows for real time transformation and mapping of the data.

They supply integration with all third party authentication and authorisation systems. LDAP/AD integration is built in to the product along with integration to single sing-on products.

They provide both inbound and outbound web-services including to their applications on the Android and iOS platforms.

Security Controls

Security controls are through role based authentication and privileges on the user record within the application.

Pre-Deployment Integration

Their administration system allows for out of the box connections for a great many systems to pull in the initial information – everything is controlled by switches and there is no coding required. It is all interface driven.

Their first step would be to connect to the LDAP directory, to map properties across. They do have the capability to take in CSV bulk-uploads but they recommend the wizard-driven mapping process.

Asset and Configuration Information

Their Asset Management Integration Engine connects to any third party source, extracts the information and maps it directly into the CMDB.

As they deal with multiple sources, the data builds in the CMDB to provide a true sense of data federation, and new mapping fields can be created on the fly.

Absolute also have their own discovery tools to find any device attached to an IP address across servers, workstations and mobile devices.

The information is visible in real time

Support Services Integration

  • Remote Control

Absolute Service has Remote Control capability embedded into the solution and is selectable from the endpoint record.

  • Major Incidents

They allow customers to have access to RSS feeds, which can be built into any view – whilst there might not be much take up for single instance customers, but is a useful feature where Managed Service Providers are working with multiple Absolute versions

  • Support Chats/Social Media

As with Remote Control, Chat is directly embedded into the application and users can authenticate against established social media applications such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Resource Management Integration

As part of their mobile device management, Absolute can link to a location to allocate work to a local technician.

Within the Change Management application, a scheduling system shows a holistic view, including where people are on leave, and more importantly the workload of targeted individuals.

Additional Areas of Integration

  • Escalation to third parties

Their use of web services is a good example of where incidents can be written to a third party system (for example, where a service has been outsourced to an MSP).

  • Mobile Device Management

Often BYOD is not managed in a unified way and now with a potential mix of iOS and Android devices, they provide management through homogeneous profiles, which is then implemented within their service management solution, so that pulls of profiles can be device initiated.

  • Event Management

Where Absolute have installed their own software, they can monitor and manage devices in real time, and can use web services to also connect.

Absolute Service Customers

From the Absolute Service Brochure

  • An IT Service Management solution that combines people, process, information and technology so that IT services can align with the needs of the business.
  • With a data-driven view of the overall business, IT can assess the potential business impact of each service request.
  • Easily integrates with existing enterprise infrastructure for Asset Management, Authentication and Single Sign-On, Calendaring and Messaging

In Their Own Words:

With a data-driven view of the overall business, IT can assess the potential business impact of each service request. This is important since a simple hardware failure can have serious productivity and profitability implications to other parts of the business. With Absolute Service, IT has the necessary insight to respond appropriately.

With Absolute Service, IT is able to:

  • Satisfy service level agreements (SLAs)
  • Intuitively group and resolve multiple requests with a single solution
  • Identify and avoid costly business interruptions
  • Migrate to the latest version with a single click

With Absolute Service, organizations are able to:

  • Save over 80% by configuring the solution
  • Pay once, not forever
  • Avoid costly long term consulting expenses
  • Save development time and better reallocate resources

The intelligence of Absolute Service relies on the underlying CMDB. The CMDB federates data from multiple data sources already in place within the organization, including:

  • Most IT asset management systems such as Absolute Manage
  • Directory servers such as Open LDAP, Active Directory, Open Directory, and others
  • Single sign on and identity management services

Analyze the potential impact of each service request to pre-empt interruptions to productivity and profitability by focusing on those service requests that could be impactful to other areas of the business. Absolute Service provides IT with the intelligence they need to analyze the potential impact of each service request.

 Screenshots

Further Information

This independent review is part of our Integrations 2013 Group Test.