Rolling Review Kick-Off: IT Service Catalog Implementation

Service catalogs set common expectations for IT and users, but there are risks.
Varied Vendor Landscape
The service catalog market is wide open. Many vendors emerged from the telecommunications provider market, where the definition of services is crucial in the overall service delivery strategy. Vendors such as Amdocs and Telcordia also offer workflow and provisioning components of the products. Other vendors, including CA and IBM, are strong in the service desk market, focusing on CMDB and help desk technologies. Companies such as NewScale and Digital Fuel provide service catalogs as a standalone product.

The price range is just as wide, from free open source software to more than $250,000 for systems that handle everything from catalog building to service delivery.

Service catalog "products" can be tough to categorize, given the tangential capabilities they might also offer. To keep this Rolling Review manageable, we'll test standalone service catalogs that can be deployed independent of a service desk, workflow management, or CMDB software application. We've invited vendors that use either a software-as-a-service or a more traditional product-based approach. Amdocs OSS Service Catalog, CA, Digital Fuel, EMC Infra, IBM Service Request Manager, NetCracker, NewScale, Oblicore, and Telcordia Service Catalog were asked to participate in this Rolling Review.

Rolling Review
Business value
With the proliferation of tools and systems, IT organizations are often stretched thin and don't have the resources to fully support myriad business initiatives. From a user perspective, there are also uneven expectations on IT support and the process to request IT services. The service catalog can help solve these problems. We'll test standalone systems that deliver services either in a traditional or SaaS approach.
Vendors invited
Amdocs, CA, Digital Fuel, EMC Infra, IBM, NetCracker, NewScale, Oblicore, and Telcordia Service Catalog.
We'll evaluate each product based on ease of use, administration, and integration; how well the product facilitates tracking status; and initial and recurring maintenance costs.

The architecture of the service catalog might vary based on the software required. The structure will include a user and administrative interface as well as a database structure that records the information. For applications that include a workflow management system, our test bed may also include a workflow engine.

We will test all aspects of IT service catalog building--from defining services to creating a paper document to putting an interactive catalog online--in our Real-World Labs at Windward IT Solutions.

Evaluating the right tool for your environment probably will be more straightforward. The critical questions to ask focus on ease of use and administration and the ability of the product to integrate into other tools in the environment. No one wants a standalone service catalog that's difficult to maintain and update. Knowing what to look for should allow you to home in on what's most important to you in your environment.

Editor's Choice
Samuel Greengard, Contributing Reporter
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Carrie Pallardy, Contributing Reporter
John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author
Astrid Gobardhan, Data Privacy Officer, VFS Global
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing