Demo: Extending Service Manager to Automate IT Processes

Demo: Extending Service Manager to Automate IT Processes

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System Center Service Manage can be fundamentally broken down into two parts:

  1. The platform.
  2. The solutions.

The platform includes all the infrastructure services such as the workflow engine, the model-based database, the data warehouse, the data access service, and many other services that make Service Manager easy to extend and customize.

The solutions includes those management packs that we ship out of the box for incident, change, problem, configuration, knowledge, and compliance/risk management.

The platform’s purpose is to enable IT process automation. Customers and partners can automate virtually any kind of IT process on top of the Service Manager platform.  Some examples of IT processes that can be automated: new employee provisioning, self-service software deployment, VM migration, backup/recovery, SharePoint site provisioning…. the list goes on and on.   Automating IT processes with software reduces costs, reduces errors, reduces time to value, and ultimately frees up the IT staff to work on strategic initiatives instead of fulfilling mundane requests over and over.

Where do the solutions come in here?  The solutions provide the ITIL/MOF process framework for automating IT processes.  Sure you could write a workflow for Service Manager that automates some process and have that run every day automatically.  But, the real value of Service Manager comes when you use the platform and the out of box solutions together.  For example, when you automate that process to provision a new user, that really is a change to the environment which should be tracked by a change request.  The change request might require approval.  The whole process might require one or two manual steps in the middle which simply can’t be automated.  And in the end, the change request record is proof to the bosses that the work was done – and not only that, but it was done automatically for practically zero cost!  This is how you become an IT Hero!

So, to get people going on this, I’ve put together a couple of demos which demonstrate what kinds of things are possible to automate using Service Manager without writing a single line of code.  I chose ‘Provision and New User’ (this post) and ‘Manage Virtualization’ (previous post) as the first couple of examples.  I’ve also provided the MPs for these solutions as attachments so you can check them out.  Keep in mind that these are just demo/examples – there are hard coded things in these MPs so they won’t work (unless you happen to be a Microsoft employee with access to our demo VM environment).  They aren’t meant for production use; just to show you how to do things.

For this particular example, I’ve also included a step-by-step guide (attached) detailing each step I took along the way to automate this using the Service Manager platform and authoring tools.  There are lots more great things to come in the authoring tool so some of the things you see me do in the doc will become even easier when the next version of the authoring tool ships.

Without further ado, please enjoy this demo of automating the process of provisioning a new user using Service Manager!

Demo materials:

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  • When I saw this demo I was very impressed. I am currently rolling service manager out and would really like to get this workflow into the product before the roll out. However I followed your step by step guide and came a little stuck. There seems to be a few things missing from the guide and was wondering if you could check this.

  • @Mat-

    This document was written quite a while ago when the authoring tool wasnt finished yet.  It's actually much easier now.  I'll update the doc as soon as I can and post back here when it is updated.

  • any word on when this will be updated to use the RTM authoring tool?



  • @MikeMurray -

    It's in my to do list.  Probably sometime in the next couple of weeks.

  • I'm also eagerly awaiting the update.  Been banging my head against the wall trying to translate to the final authoring tool and have finally given up :P

  • Hi Travis,

    Thanx for the great article. Am using this as a starting point for a solution i'm developing. However am currently stuck at step 38 which passes parameters to the workflow rule. Its probably due to the updates involved in the current version of the tool. I understand that you are coming out with the updated document soon. Hoping that you can point me in the right direction :).

    Thx in advance!!

  • Travis,

    I performed this demo on the HOL @ TechEd 2010 in Berlin and I think it is great. But I have also performed these steps in our demo environment running the RTM version of the Service Manager and Authoring tool however I cannot select the custom User Provisioning Work item during the setup. Any update on which changes in the XML file that still need te be performed manually ? Thanks for the feedback.

    Gino D

  • @All - I plan on rewriting this blog post soon.  Things are sooo much easier to do now that the Authoring Tool is RTM.  Watch the blog for a new version of this blog post.

  • Travis,

    Followed the doc "Automating active directory and exch..."

    Got as far as creating the workflow rule in the auth tool, but im noticing that the options are different in the RTM ver of Auth Tool (for ex: no WF Workflow stage in wizard, no way to load the 'properties' of the rule)

    Wondering how to proceed as I am stuck right now...

    The doc was very good at helping me build the mp dll/xml/xaml in VS2008! but dont know if that whole process is still applicable anymore....

    Some updated info would be great to have, really looking forward to getting the "request new user" link to work....


  • Anything new on an update for this for SP1?

  • video not working!!!!!!!!!

  • Vimal, you mentioned that the video was not working for you.  It works for me so I'm wondering if it might be a glitch somewhere on your end.  Please try again.