When Microsoft Service Manager first came out, it offered a fairly robust system for IT Service Management and Asset Management. Early on, users faced some pretty common challenges, from few out-of-box configurations, to daunting customization projects, and the inability to give end users web accessibility via SharePoint. Fast forward 10 years and while there is now considerably more documentation, user guides, and training available for SCSM, Microsoft still has not introduced an answer to the accessibility problem, which is absolutely needed.
At first glance, the most appealing option for many organizations is to use the Microsoft SCSM Web Console, an end-user-only HTML5 self-service portal. This allows end users to submit issues directly and is a welcome upgrade from the SharePoint-based Service Manager Web Portal. Unfortunately, it’s still not usable for Analysts as they can’t manage tickets, making it impractical overall.
To answer this call for web accessibility, we created the Cireson SCSM Web Portal. Comprised of a web-based Self-Service Portal for end users and an Analyst Portal for Support Teams, our Portal is web-based and 100% browser, device, and OS agnostic.
The Cireson Self-Service Portal provides end-users with the ability to submit their own requests, which is similar to the out-of-box Microsoft Portal. The Cireson Self-Service Portal also allows end-users to manage/update their own submitted requests at a determined granularity. The Portal can also be easily customized, allowing for simple changes like color schemes to complex modifications like custom layouts, custom pages, and actual AD-group access control. Many of these changes can be done with some supported CSS tweaks that even the lowest of entry-level admins can find via a quick online search. The result is that end users will call and email less, instead opting to use the faster, sleeker Portal to initiate support. Lucky for the System Center community, the Cireson Self-Service Portal is free to download, making it an all-around better solution than the out-of-box Microsoft Portal that organizations can start using immediately.
The Cireson Portal provides oodles of functionality that both end users and Analysts get excited about. The Portal also provides upper management some functionality in the form of Dashboards and graph or table-drive datasets that show drill-down-capable models of Work Item and Configuration Item data. It’s reminiscent of using SQL Server Reporting Services, but a) without sys admins dreading over creating reports, b) far less time-consuming to create/modify a report, and c) it has added functionality. With a little bit of SQL or oData experience, custom reports can be created by linking any database, including SCSM DataWarehouse, Configuration Manager, or any other custom database on any server/instance, showing rich result sets, dashboards, counters, and analytics as needed. There is even an export and print option!
Both the Cireson Self-Service and Analyst Portals are built using HTML5 and provide direct replacements for the out-of-box Microsoft Web Console and SCSM Console. They also provide additional benefits including advanced request offerings, an integrated Microsoft Outlook Console, an integrated HTML5 knowledge base, survey options, and more. Our SCSM Portal is fairly lightweight and can be installed on any existing SCSM server and uses an existing SQL instance, making setup an easy click-next install. Similarly, there are dozens of copy/paste-able customizations that are available with no modifications needed. And since installing the Portal is easier than using the SCSM Console, it should most definitely be on your list to try it out.