When it comes to the allocation of hardware resources, one thing that usually gets the short shrift is the help desk. After all, it’s not like the help desk is tied to an application that a business unit invested in; it’s a general service that tends to get funded out of an IT budget that, in terms of providing things dedicated to making IT better at its job, is often fairly limited.
It’s no wonder, then, why interest in help desk applications delivered as a service is on the rise, or why just about every major provider of IT service management (ITSM) software is fighting for a piece of the action.
The latest service desk offering for the cloud comes from Hewlett-Packard, which today launched the HP Service Anywhere, a service desk application hosted by HP in the cloud. Based on HP Universal Configuration Management Database (UCMDB) and HP Universal Discovery software, Paul Muller, vice president of marketing for HP Software, says the HP service can dynamically keep track of any and all devices that get added to the network.
The HP announcement comes on the heels of the recent formal launch of Citrix GoToAssist Service Desk, which is based on the service desk application that Citrix gained with its recent acquisition of Beetil.
According to Brain de Haaff, senior product line director for Citrix GoToAssist Service Desk, Citrix decided to buy Beetil because it’s designed to focus squarely on the incident management process in a way that reasonably complies with the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) framework, or as de Haaff describes it: “ITIL for sensible people.”
Arguably, Citrix is a pioneer in the development of software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications in the cloud. Service desk, says de Haaff, is a natural extension of the Citrix application portfolio.
But HP and other providers of service desk software would argue that cloud-only approaches to service desk software don’t recognize some of the compliance realities IT organizations face today, or the amount of time and money they have invested in existing service desk software. HP Service Anywhere, for example, creates a hybrid cloud computing model because it is designed to be a natural extension to HP Service Manager software running on premise, says HP’s Muller.
HP Service Anywhere, adds Muller, also provides an inherently social approach to IT support that also includes integration with several unified communications platforms, while at the same time providing IT organizations with a customizable ITIL-compliant framework the minute they invoke the service.
Obviously, there is a major battle brewing in the service desk space with multiple vendors making the case that service desk software is not only more affordable in the cloud, but it makes it easier for IT organizations to access service desk software that is always up to date in terms of support for new devices and applications. Given compliance and security concerns, the degree to which IT organizations move service desks to the cloud remains to be seen. But there will be no shortage of options, which at least in theory, should mean that the level of service provided by IT organizations should be steadily improving in the years ahead.