by Rakesh Sharma
Published on 12 July 2011
Help desk apps come in various shapes and sizes. Yet, most of them have some common attributes. This week, we will look at a different kind of help desk applications. We will review CMDB cloud, a software that, according to it's founders, is ITIL-compliant and comes with some interesting features. We will look at its interface, features, and how it can be of use to you.
ITIL is a practical framework to designing, developing and delivering IT Services in an organization. In simple words, the framework approaches help desk design and implementation as a business solution. This means that your helpdesk is better aligned to your business needs. Impressive, enough? Well, according to one of it's founders, that is only the beginning: "We have created an ITSM platform that extends far beyond that," says Jack Reviere, co-founder at CMDB cloud. "We have harnessed social networking principles to give support staff and customers maximum and relevant visibility."
Reviere says the company was created by enthusiastic and out-of-the-box thinking guys with a real understanding of IT Services management. "The service was created to fix real problems experienced by real engineers and IT managers," he says.
DECODING THE CMDB CLOUD
The solution packs in quite a punch: it includes standard help desk features such as incident tracking and management. In addition, it also integrates social media strategies for monitoring customer activity and giving IT teams the freedom to share ideas and work on issues together. "We have moved away from the notorious filing cabinet approach to a platform that makes information accessible and relevant with hashtags, relationships, notifications, activity feeds, lists and the ability to mention things in your IT world when posting, writing knowledge base articles and creating incidents," says Reviere.
What impressed me, however, was the capability to track changes to your physical and cloud environments. The solution regularly polls (in simple words, this means it monitors server activity by checking status every few minutes) servers to monitor activity. I found this feature intriguing and particularly useful. Not only does this make root cause analysis easy, I reckon it must have also make identifying and resolving a problem much easier and quicker. The latter, especially, is difficult for cloud-based solutions because clouds, by their nature, are black holes for customers. In addition, the solution provides a consolidated view of all your infrastructure dependencies.
"An application may not be working but the engineer will immediately see related underlying impacts on the app server and network hardware that may have caused the issue," explains Reviere. Their API is currently in BETA testing with a select group. Reviere says this will enable that group to integrate with existing solutions and internal custom-made software.
According to Reviere, deployment is almost instant. "You can start using our help desk within 10-15 minutes by creating your teams and customer groups, setting up your portal address and customizing the look and feel," he says. In addition, managing cloud servers is matter of simply adding your username and API key to start tracking server states, operating system changes, RAM/CPU resizing and much more. "Customers can also scan their local networks with our partner Discover tool within ten minutes," says Reviere.
THE BASICS: WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE?
The software has a simple, easy-to-use interface, consisting of a master menu on the left hand bar. You can check the overall dashboard, issues, task list, and feeds at the top of the screen. Navigation is fairly easy and performing a task is never more than two clicks away. I thought the connector screen (displayed below) was especially fascinating as it provides a wonderful snapshot of infrastructure dependencies.
SUPPORTING THE CLOUD
Support in the system consists of a blog, and a standby support team that is ready to answer any problem that you might have. I do have a minor quibble with their support system, though. Although they have a great product, they do not have introductory videos or interactive support to help a first-time user learn more about the product. As I mentioned earlier, cloud-based help desk applications are fairly standard practice. What makes this product different from other software is their emphasis on tracking servers. It might be an idea to demonstrate the benefits to a first-time user.
IS IT FOR YOU?
If you are a user who is interested in ITIL compliance as well as tracking cloud server activity for faster resolution of your problems, then this product is for you.