Introduction to Service Manager 2012 Service Catalog – Part 1

Greetings Service Manager fans!

I’m really excited to blog about some of the cool new capabilities that are available as part of the release of Service Manager 2012 Beta, specifically the new Service Catalog and Service Request Management capabilities that we started talking about and showing examples of since MMS last year.  This is the first of what will be a two part blog about the Service Catalog and Service Request Management process that is part of Service Manager 2012 Beta recently released.

The Service Manager Service Catalog and Service Request Portal are key pieces to helping organizations deliver a standardized self-service experience for IT service consumers and have the automation in place to fulfill request for service.

Let’s start with how the new Service Catalog is structured.


Figure 1- Service Manager 2012 Service Catalog

Figure 1 above shows what the new Service Catalog looks like for Service Manager 2012. The Service Catalog is based on Silverlight and Microsoft SharePoint and allows customers to tailor the look of the portal using standard SharePoint tools.

From the Service Catalog, IT consumers can identify, select and request various services offered by IT in a self-service manner. The power of the System Center 2012 suite really shines as behind the scenes, Service Manager, Orchestrator and all the other System Center products come together to help automate the fulfillment of the selected request. The benefit for our customers is having the ability to publish standardized requests in an intuitive, easy to navigate portal; capture the required information from IT consumers necessary to fulfill a service request; and trigger the necessary process and system level automation activities to fulfill a request, either within the Microsoft System Center stack or out to other 3rd party management tools.

Let’s talk about how the Service Catalog presents requests to users. The Service Catalog is organized to provide a self-service experience for IT consumers with different Request Offerings being grouped together in Service Offerings.

As a starting point, it is important to know how Service Manager provides the ability to standardize requests for service.


Table 1 - Service Offerings & Request Offerings at a Glance

We start with Service Offerings which allow IT organizations to define at a high level the types of services they will offer to their customers. Some examples of Service Offerings are Cloud Services, Connectivity Services, Desktop Services or Security and Access Services. The important thing to note is these are fully configurable for each customer and are intended to align with your business needs.

Within each Service Offering we can define one or more Request Offerings which capture details of a specific request that IT wants to offer to the business. Each Request Offering contains information such as Cost, SLA details, knowledge articles and specific input requirements in the form of questions that a requestor of IT services will complete as part of the request process.

Lastly, each request offering has the necessary process and systems automation linked to it to drive the fulfillment of each request such as assignments, notifications, approvals, and systems automation activities linked to Orchestrator runbooks.

Knowing how each request is put together conceptually, let’s now look at how this is presented to the end user.

To expand on our example of the Service Catalog shown in Figure 1 above we have a Service Offering called “Cloud Services” as expanded in Figure 2 below.


Figure 2 - Cloud Services Service Offering

Each Service Offering contains a collection of Request Offerings as shown in Figure 3 below.


Figure 3 - Cloud Services Request Offerings

In addition to Request Offerings, IT Service Providers can create and link help articles from the Service Manager knowledge base to a specific Service Offering or Request Offering.

Figure 3 above shows that we have four available Request Offerings as part of our Cloud Services Service Offering.

If we select the offering “Request Project Infrastructure Quota” from our Request Offering above we are presented with details of the specific Request Offering including the information required by IT in order to fulfill this request as shown in Figure 4.


Figure 4 - Request Project Infrastructure Request Form

Figure 4 above is a dynamically created form configured within Service Manager by the IT Service Provider with the options and request for information that IT needs in order to fulfill a request of this type. The requested information is presented to the consumer to be selected based on their needs and requirements and then automatically triggers the necessary automation workflow or is routed to the appropriate IT group for action.

The key benefit here is through the Service Catalog providers of IT service can create and publish standardized requests to their customers in an easy to navigate format and users can request IT services selecting the request offerings they want based on their need.

Lastly, end users are able to view their requests for service to have visibility into the fulfillment of their requests as desired.

To test this out, go download Service Manager 2012 Beta and try it out for yourself.


Sean Christensen

Sean F Christensen - Snr. Technical Product Manager, ITIL v3 Expert


                Service Delivery, Automation & Management

Blog | Twitter @SeanC_MSFT

Comments (1)

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hi Sean,

    thanks for that useful information. It helps me to more and more understand the parts of the Service-Catalog feature and to implement it at our customer sites.

    Peter Forster, Microsoft MVP 2002-2011

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