Microsoft Not Killing Off System Center Service Manager

Microsoft gave assurances this week that it isn't abandoning Service Manager as part of its System Center management suite.

Microsoft describes Service Manager as its platform for automating IT best practices, based on approaches outlined in the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) and Microsoft Operations Framework. It's purportedly more than just a help desk app. It combines "incident and problem resolution, change control, and asset lifecycle management," per Microsoft.

However, Service Manager also was described in a September Microsoft Forum post as being "full with bugs" and possibly being "the lowest priority" for receiving fixes among the System Center product family. Microsoft indicated that it had pulled Update Rollup 4 for System Center 2012 Service Pack 1 Service Manager back in October because of lack of debug support, although it may have been a short-lived delay since UR4 has been available for download since that time. Cireson, a consultancy focused on providing Microsoft System Center support, noted with indignation last year that Service Manager didn't make Gartner's Magic Quadrant for IT service management tools.

Apparently, such skeptical reactions from end users and partners have caused Microsoft to announce this week that it "continues to invest" in Service Manager and that Service Manager is supported by "a sizeable eco system of partners and ISVs."

"The System Center team would like to take the opportunity to squash rumors floating around about the future of Service Manager and the nature of the investment that will be made to the product over the next couple of years," stated Christian Booth, a senior program manager on the System Center team at Microsoft, in a Tuesday Microsoft blog post.

Booth specifically pointed to "conclusions" by customers and partners that Service Manager had "no future" at Microsoft, possibly because it wasn't included in the Gartner Magic Quadrant. He indicated that the Service Manager team was currently focused on ironing out the product's kinks.

"Infrastructure investments to improve stability, usability and performance will be the first areas of focus in 2014," Booth wrote. "Our investments will expand into other areas once these goals are met."

Other priorities for the team include adding connectors, improving console performance, enhancing the analyst and Web portal, workflow and data warehouse reporting, he added. Booth promised improved turnaround times in response to customer requests. The team has adopted an "agile engineering" approach to better deal with the feedback it gets through Microsoft's Technology Adoption Program for Service Manager, he added.

Microsoft's future Update Rollup releases for Service Manager will have better quality compared with past releases, Booth promised. He added that update rollups for System Center are now released on a quarterly basis, which has been the practice ever since Update Rollup 2.

The System Center team appears to have become overloaded to some degree in having to cope with Microsoft's launch of Windows Azure Infrastructure Services back in April. At least, that's the explanation for the Service Manager quality issues that came from Travis Wright, director of product management at Cireson, as well as a former Microsoft principal program manager on System Center.

"The situation in the SC team for the last couple of cycles has been that new capabilities are focused on IaaS management with SCVMM keeping pace with the innovations in WS and WAP, SPF, SMA bringing Azure to run at service providers and enterprise on premise," Wright wrote in the September Microsoft forum post. "With a lot of progress in those areas complete now, we are starting to plan for vNext. Many of the common issues/complaints raised by the community and customers around SCSM are on the table for discussion for vNext, but until plans are finalized we can't share anything specific."

Booth offered no roadmap or timeline for the changes to come, but he promised more information about future updates to Service Manager would be arriving via Microsoft's System Center Engineering blog.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.


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