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Rolling Review: CA Service Catalog

Flexible package makes it easy to build your own -- but only in Windows.

For our first IT service catalog Rolling Review entry, we took a look at CA's offering. For IT organizations that want to be more service-focused, CA Service Catalog provides features that help the organization effectively communicate its IT offerings to users and customers while helping to manage the balance among which services to offer, the quality of services offered, and the costs of delivering those services.

Service Catalog accomplishes these goals by helping IT understand the demand for service offerings, the infrastructure elements needed to offer the services, and costs associated with service-level management. The Service Catalog also can help shed light on the costs of owning a service, to include other services on which a service is dependent.

Feature Rich
One exemplary feature of Service Catalog is the inclusion of about 100 example service options and services out of the box, all nicely organized in logically folders. The examples can provide valuable guidance to a service organization struggling to identify actual services offered, instead of processes or infrastructure required to deliver their services. This is a major asset for the product and reduces the barrier to entry for organizations that may be struggling with documentation around this area.

Templates for service definition, inheritance, and copy-and-paste capability also are all prebuilt and fully customizable. Configuring the system can be approached from a business-concept level, in that service contracts, service/operational-level agreements, request processing, approval routing, etc., can be considered objects and dealt with as such. The inclusion of an Administration Quick Start, basically a short-cut menu, on the home page of the administration tool is a nice touch and makes it easy to get started.

Customer access to services is controlled using an exceptionally flexible permissions model that supports multitiered access levels across business units, accounts, users, and various structures of the catalog. Service Catalog uses the term "account" to identify a business subunit such as a division within a company or another subset of a business unit perhaps established to support a different pricing structure for services.

CA's choice to utilize a browser-based client is a two-edged sword. It avoids the need to install an operating system-specific client and avoids those associated costs of ownership. Be aware, though, that Java version conflicts can arise when implementing differing browser-based products.

Rolling Review
Business value
We're testing service catalog products for ease of use, administration, and integration; how well the product facilitates tracking status; and overall costs.
Vendors invited
Amdocs, CA, Digital Fuel, IBM, NewScale, PMG,, Telcordia

Up next
CA leverages its Java Web application platform to interact with other CA or third-party products. Data may be exchanged easily via XML files and/or publishing or consuming Web services. IT shops that also implement CA Service Accounting or CA Configuration Management Database will find some very useful prebuilt integrations that support features like graphical displays of service-to-configuration-item mappings.

Using The Product
The administrative interface is well designed and intuitive. We had no difficulty navigating the various administrative sections and performing our tasks. The sample content provided by CA is invaluable for not only learning how to use the product but also as source material. We were able to build our simple portfolio of business solutions in minutes by copying and pasting existing similar services and touching up as needed.

The results of our configuration were great. After our few minutes of configuration, we logged on as a customer user and were able to browse our new portfolio of business solutions. Each solution provided detailed descriptions, cost information, different levels of service, lead time requirements, and any other required information to be provided by the customer. There were even pictures associated with each offering.

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