The software company's first help desk offering is now not due until 2010, giving HP and BMC time to solidify their products.
Microsoft's forthcoming Service Manager help desk offering will not see the
light of day for another two years, as the company reworks a core component to
provide the necessary performance.
While Microsoft initially said its System Center Service Manager
offering-code-named Service Desk-was slated for release in the first half of 2008,
Microsoft chose to push the final release back to the first half of 2010.
The decision was based on feedback from Beta One customers, who said
performance of the help desk software was not where they needed it to be,
according to Robert Reynolds, group product manager for System
At the heart of the performance bottleneck was the "store
technology" used in the help desk software's CMDB (configuration
management database), which prompted Microsoft to use common technology found
in Microsoft's Operations Manager software, Reynolds said.
"We are leveraging some of the technology that started in Operations
Manager and enhancing that. There were enhancements required for that so it
could be a full CMDB," Reynolds said. "We have to rebind the [user interface]
and the workflow engine [in Service Manager] to that new core
component. We have to fix that performance problem."
Any enhancements made using the Operations Manager component will benefit
any other System Center
product that exploits the CMDB, Reynolds said.
However, the delay gives dominant players in the service desk market such as
BMC Software, Hewlett-Packard and CA even
more opportunity to solidify their leads.
"It's only been in the past few years that competitors like HP and BMC
have gotten even strong stories together on their IT service management,"
said IDC analyst Fred Broussard. "BMC
is strong in business service management and have adopted a lot of [IT
Infrastructure Library] processes. The same goes for HP with the acquisition of
Peregrine and the consolidation of the former HP Service Desk into HP Service
Manager. They've only gotten stronger in the past two years. And even CA has
gotten a better story than they had in the past."
Still, Microsoft has a chance to get a leg up in the market if its Service
Manager is on a competitive par and can offer greater ease of use than the
existing dominant products, Broussard said.
"In the market overall, there is still a healthy percentage of shops
still dealing with homegrown solutions. [BMC's]
Remedy and [HP's] Peregrine are still pretty heavy solutions [to implement].
And with enterprises that have less than 5,000 employees, Microsoft has as good
a chance as anybody to get into that range and get a service desk solution
running," Broussard said. "Ultimately, at this stage of the game,
Microsoft may as well take their time and do it right."
Microsoft's Reynolds acknowledged that the delay could hamper Microsoft's
attempt to enter the market, but said there is an opportunity.
"The later release will delay our chances, but we don't feel it will
hurt our ability to solve customer problems. [Private beta] customers are
urging us on. They want us to get into this space and bring our ease of use
to it. Customers are still buying things that, given an easier-to-use
option, they would be willing to take a look at that and migrate what they have
to that," he said.
Microsoft will refresh the beta testing for Service Manager toward the end