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Rolling Review: Service Catalogs Tested

NewScale shines among competitive service catalog choices.
Ease Of Use

A challenge for all four products is balancing ease of use with complexity. Service-now's interface was easiest to use and highly accessible, but demand management and service performance monitoring capabilities were limited. Users need a firm handle on their processes and workflow designs before tackling Service-now, because it doesn't provide a lot of documentation and guidelines. However, its common user interface was appealing and could lower administrative overhead once it's up and running.

In contrast, CA provided a wealth of flexibility, customization, and integration capabilities, but the interface was the most complex. Integration hooks into other CA products may make the move to its service catalog an easy decision for IT organizations that have already invested in CA technology. CMDB integration, for instance, lets you easily link technical and business service catalogs, reducing the need for administration and maintenance.

CA's tab-based navigation was the most difficult to use, and its Service Request tab was very cluttered and made it difficult for us to get where we wanted to go. CA's default reports, on the other hand, were very useful for managing the key aspects of our services.

Another factor to consider is whether you need other IT service management components or just a service catalog. Several vendors we tested provided capabilities well beyond the scope of our service catalog review. If you need a CMDB, configuration management, change management, or other module, take a hard look at vendors' companion offerings.

Bottom Line

Performing an apples-to-apples comparison was difficult because these are four very different products. For our test environment, we would select NewScale based on its powerful workflow engine, ability to manage objectives, and number of service templates. Its architecture and design also would let it scale and change along with a business. NewScale did well based on our criteria, which included ease of use, administration, and integration capabilities. Its ability to track the status of requests and analyze cost metrics also was superb. That said, the other products also performed well. You won't go wrong using PMG for its flexible delivery model and intuitive interface. If you need a SaaS offering, go with Service-now. If you need flexibility and have a complex enterprise environment, CA may be best.

EMC declined to submit its Ionix SM for our review. Amdocs, Digital Fuel, Oblicore, and Telcordia didn't respond to our invitation.

Michael Biddick is CTO at Fusion PPT in Northern Virginia.


Our Take
SERVICE CATALOGS: GOOD AND BAD SIDES
Pros
  • Give users control over ordering IT and business services
  • Automate much of the mundane workflow involved in the processing and fulfillment of services
  • Help meet compliance and audit requirements, while cutting IT costs
Cons
  • May overlap with service desk and IT service management tools
  • Can be difficult to configure
  • Many organizations aren't mature enough to take advantage of all of a service catalog's capabilities