ITSM (IT Service Management) has long been considered an expensive, rigid support process that is expensive but unavoidable—but does it need to be this way? We’ve been looking at Sunrise Software’s latest release of its ITSM platform application Sostenuto, in particular the inclusion of its new self-service portal, Iguana.

What is it and who is it for?

Sunrise has always looked to provide a more flexible alternative to the classic “Service Desk” format that is sympathetic to the requirements of individual businesses. With Iguana, this flexibility has been extended to a self-service interface that Sunrise has just released with a view to really taking the technicalities out of ITSM administration.

Interestingly it was designed by Web designers, not IT developers and it shows in the appearance and usability. It was developed in AJAX (as is Facebook) and this explains the easy user interaction. Essentially, a user can create their own sub-application using Iguana, pulling in whatever they want to see—and how they want to see it—rather than being forced down the route that the software vendor chooses for them. Since this is all about encouraging the user to go for the self-service portal approach, rather than pick up the phone and register another support call, it makes a great deal of sense.

Sostenuto itself, which Iguana feeds into, is not so much a shrink-wrap software application as an ‘application builder’ tool. Sunrise actually uses ‘Sostenuto’ to build (or configure) the end ‘product’ which is what is then made available to customers. An example of such a ‘product’ is Sunrise’s ITSM 2 (based on ITIL v2) and ITSM 3, based on the processes required under ITIL v3.

The benefit of this methodology is that the built ‘product’ is therefore highly configurable and flexible and as new versions of the underlying Sostenuto are released, ever greater functionality can be realised in the ‘product’. With the addition of the Web 2.0 based portal, Iguana, it allows customers to interact directly with the ITSM 2 and ITSM 3 products in a manner that is more akin to Facebook usage than a traditional IT application.

Pricing & setup

Iguana is priced as part of a larger service management software solution, and the entry level pricing for the complete solution is £25,000 (ex. VAT). Iguana itself, being browser-based, requires little in the way of configuration, being more of a point and shoot exercise.

Does it do it well?

What is clear from using Iguana is that Sunrise has understood that the average user—as opposed to IT technician—is au fait with the likes of Facebook and Twitter and that these are their familiar Internet “experience”. The portal has therefore been made to look and feel like the kinds of applications they are familiar with, rather than a “classic” business application type interface. And it works.

The main aim here is to encourage users to adopt the self-service option over picking up the phone and using up support team time. So, rather than “bully” them into trying to use unfamiliar software and failing—and there are lots of real-world examples of this—the idea is to actually make them want to go self-service. Basic common sense.

All the key aspects of Sostenuto usage, such as managing changes, are available through the Iguana interface. It makes relatively complex tasks, such as following incidents, really clear since every aspect of an incident—for example, the history—can be viewed in separate widgets, but simultaneously. The interface is dynamic and intelligent in nature in that only the relevant options are made available for each specific incident/call, with non-relevant options greyed out and unavailable, which minimises confusion and error on the part of the user.

The portal gives users the option to display and configure their own widgets, or panels of information housing RSS feeds, ticker messages, and tools of their choice, from currency converters to the weather forecast. Each screen element is effectively a “widget” that can be moved around the screen, resized etc, so it makes for a completely customisable interface.

Iguana can also be embedded within a private Intranet. A business can completely customise the interface, adding its own logos, colour schemes etc. The whole point here is that the self-service “experience” should be totally personal to company and user, encouraging them to actually make use of the interface.

Where does it disappoint?

There are no disappointments as such, but it is important to understand that the Iguana portal is only currently available for use with Sunrise’s own Sostenuto ITSM application and therefore you need to view the “total package” as the solution, not just Iguana. What would be really interesting would be if Iguana was able to front-end or interface with other third-party ITSM applications, in much the same way that the browser itself acts as a generic front-end to any application type—kind of Windows reinvented for ITSM.

Would we recommend it?

As an overall package, anyone looking for a truly alternative interface into the ITSM world should consider the Iguana/Sostenuto ITSM combination, simply because it does move the game on.

By aligning the software with the kind of application that end users choose to use—such as a Facebook or Twitter—rather than some IT developer’s idea of the “perfect” user interface, this can only encourage them to actually use it, rather than simply pick up the telephone and increase the ITSM overhead even further. At the same time, from an ITSM perspective, the overall package ticks all the political boxes, such as being ITIL 3 guideline compliant, so it should satisfy the purists too. [8]