Micro Focus Service Management Automation 2018.05 is now generally available. This release introduces the Studio for Service Management Automation X (SMAX) which allows users to easily develop new process-based applications or extend existing applications in a completely codeless fashion. IT frequently needs to extend ITSM tools to support Line of Business cases, but tool customizations can be problematic if they prevent easy and cost-effective upgrades. Through Studio, our customers can extend the service desk by adding new applications without coding, which enables seamless product updates whenever needed.
SMAX can now be easily extended with Enterprise Service Management (ESM) applications and end users can consume these apps with the same user experience they have with IT applications. Note: Our R&D team uses Studio for developing all existing and future SMAX apps. New applications can leverage the out-of-the-box functions such as business rules engine, approvals, reporting, auditing and similar.
Codeless applications which are either developed or extended by Studio can be easily moved to new SMAX versions. Micro Focus is releasing new SMAX versions each quarter and Studio enables fast and risk-free configurations and extensions—so that updates are truly seamless.
Studio is easy to use and its concepts are familiar to most end users. Business process owners are able to develop applications for their processes freeing them from being dependent on IT anymore.
Other key capabilities introduced in the May release include:
- Azure production support and AWS support enhancements
- ITAM Procurement module for SMAX
- Various enhancements in portal for Service Manager customers that want to use SMAX portal XSP, rolling updates for both SMA-SM and SMAX
- Service catalog aggregation in SMAX in beta availability
Studio is a development toolkit to create new SMAX applications or extend existing ones. It is an integral part of SMAX Express edition and therefore inherits all of the capabilities of the SMA platform. Studio is codeless which assures seamless upgrades of the applications created with the Studio. It consists of three main components which reflect the three main parts of any service management application:
- A data model editor enables users to create necessary entities (tables) with their related attributes (fields) and relationships (links).
- A form editor to create entry and display forms for the user’s data input
- A workflow editor (Process Designer) to create various workflow steps together with the business rules guiding the transition between steps, including potential external actions or notifications
When users decide to create the application in Studio, they will be guided by the tool on the steps to follow. This activity not only makes it easy to use, but also guarantees consistency in the execution. During the beta availability, we had several customers who were able to create new IT and Enterprise applications. Dr. Kai-Uwe Winter from Materna will speak in our upcoming webinar on 06/06 on his experience and how they created their budgeting app.
Some other applications that our customers created with Studio include:
- Facilities management apps for bike locker allocation, car park passes, lost & found, and cleaner required on aisle 3
- Security management apps for booking visitors, day pass allocation and onsite security alerts
- HR apps for HR knowledge base, new employee onboarding and pay-as-you-earn tax.
Studio is not available for Service Manager (SM) and these customers can continue using SM customizations to accomplish their goals.
Public cloud support
Azure public cloud is now officially supported for deployment of SMAX. Our deployment uses native services like Azure VM, Azure Virtual Network, Azure load balancer, and Azure NSG. Also HA is supported (multiple masters) and we provide scripts for deployment automation.
AWS support was enhanced for the HA of SMAX by adding the ability to deploy master nodes across multi-availability zones on AWS
ITAM Procurement module in SMAX
The 2018.05 release introduces a new Procurement app in SMAX for tracking and managing purchasing information. The Procurement app manages the end-to-end lifecycle of IT asset purchases, and is equivalent to the procurement module in Service Manager. It tracks and manages purchase orders, purchase order lines, and the relationship with purchase requests. Customers can create a product catalog and supplier catalog, and define the mapping between each other. It also facilitates moving purchasing assets into stock and easily reconciles with inventoried assets.
Rolling Updates (for SMA-SM and SMAX)
Our container-delivery is paying off and our customers can leverage the in-place update framework to update SMA services. All customers and hosting partners on the SMA February release can update all services to 2018.05 release in less than half a day.
Here is some data about the estimated downtimes:
- CDF (Container Deployment Foundation) update has ~20 minutes downtime per master node plus the downtime needed for worker nodes
- SMAX Suite update downtime is ~30 minutes
- Post update downtime is 0-60 minutes
Service portal enhancements for SMA-SM customers
There are a few key enhancements in the portal for the existing SMA-SM customers that are worth mentioning. Please note: the following three features explained in this paragraph have been available for SMAX customers since October last year.
The first feature is the ability to launch external URLs through widgets. Now the administrator can set the URL in portal configuration, and the new widget will be added on the portal landing page.
The third feature I want to call out is the ability for end users to approve/reject support requests. When the support request status is set to “Resolved” in Service Manager, the “Accept/Reject” action on the Portal is displayed. Users can select “Accept/Reject” and the ticket will be updated accordingly.
Mobile app enhancements for both SMA-SM and SMAX
The iOS app has now native notifications displayed as a banner when the app is not open or within the app when it’s open, it is also visible on the iphone lock screen and notification history.
The native dynamic form replaces the web view form in the app. This enhancement improves the performance and enhances the layout of the form in the mobile app.
Service Catalog aggregation in SMAX (beta)
The May release brings the service catalog aggregation to SMAX. The feature is still in Beta and we expect that aggregating the services from Service Manager to SMAX to become generally available in next release.
Service catalog aggregation means that end users have only one place to go to request any service for which they are entitled without needing to know which back-end systems will fulfill their request. The IT administrator can aggregate catalog offerings from external fulfillment systems into the SMAX and then create the new bundles from services originating from different backend systems. An end user can track his requests nevertheless where they will be executed – the big benefit is the single, unified experience.
In the first release, Service Manager customers who are considering migration to SMAX can test how a single portal look-and-feels with service offerings from their existing Service Manager system. There is a comprehensive Roadmap of adding systems for aggregation and also the SDK for customers and partners to develop the connectors to desired systems.
I also want to mention that for customers running SMA suite in mixed mode, meaning Service Portal in containers integrated to classic SM, the SMA suite now comes with embedded Postgress with HA capabilities. This removes the need for customers to deploy an additional external Postgres DB for Portal. They get now backup and restore capabilities for operation and maintenance of the Postgres DB.
If you would like to see the Studio in action and hear more about new SMA 2018.05 release, you should register for the upcoming webinar on June 6, What’s New in Service Management Automation 2018.05.
If you are updating your current instance(s) to this May release, let us know how it is going and what your downtime is. And please do share with the community here which new applications you develop with the Studio.
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