It’s day five of my journey. The temperature is over 100 degrees (I think it is anyway, since people here don’t believe in the universal measurement of Fahrenheit), I’ve already braved free wifi on trains, falafel and hummus for lunch almost every day, cab drivers that can put NASCAR to shame, and the waves from the Mediterranean are almost unbearable when I’m trying to sleep. When Mark Twain mentions a ‘desolate country’ in Innocents Abroad, I finally understand what he means…
Of course, I now know he’s referring to the IT industry in Ohio, because nothing could be further from the truth when describing technology in the Holy Land.”
– Michael Slabodnick, 8/8/2013
And with that, I boarded the train into Tel Aviv to visit one of the native ITSM vendors in Israel, SysAid. Two trains and a cab ride later, I arrived at the office. I instantly recognized the steps they used to film their “SysAdmin day video” and I was greeted by my (now) friend and colleague, Dena Wieder-Freiden. I got a chance to meet several people in the company, learn about how a native Israeli company works (and some of it involves an X-Box), talk about the future of ITSM tools, enjoy a happy-hour in a bomb shelter (it’s Israel after all) and, most importantly, was given my own personal tour of SysAid 9.1 from a very cool brit by the name of Josh Phillips (he prefers Firefox but I’m sure he’ll come around to Chrome eventually).
During the demo of SysAid I saw a lot features that were simply “OOC” (Out of Cloud) and, given my experience with technology in ITSM, I have to say I was quite impressed. The only sad part of the demo was that it ended and I didn’t have a chance to get my “hands dirty” to take the technology for a test-drive of customization. But needless to say, here’s a quick itemized summary of what I liked:
1. A simple, clean interface
9.1 is the most recent version and I honestly was surprised when the program launched; not much was on the screen except an incident list. It’s not to say that all the screens are hidden and difficult to find. It’s just that the interface is clean and simple. Navigation is done through main sections at the top of the screen, drilling into a record shows a “breadcrumb” that easily takes the user back to the main navigation screen, and each record has tabs that keeps fields logically separated so the screen isn’t too cluttered. Searching/sorting was pretty easy to accomplish through the column headers. I like clean and I like simple, so when it’s together I’m happy.
I was surprised to learn that SysAid was created in 2002 with the original intent of being delivered by SaaS. Keep in mind, I’ve always thought of ServiceNow as the SaaS ITSM tool pioneer, but it was created in 2004…two years after SysAid. Score one for Israeli innovation (nothing against Fred Luddy – you already know I only write Chuck Norris blogs for things that I love).
3. Built around the core IT processes
One thing I will say is that SysAid is not a platform, but that’s not a bad thing. It covers the core ITSM processes (Incident, Request Fulfillment, Change, Problem, Asset/CMDB), and as a technology, works quite well for automating IT processes. Of course, it’s not a good idea for an organization to change to fit the tool, so I was also happy to see that customizations in SysAid were pretty easy to make.
4. Lots of “extras” to help IT meet demand
During the demo I was taken through the menu and shown how SysAid also can manage mobile assets, focused around BYOD. Keep in mind this is OOC; no add-ons required for management of phones and tablets. At one point my demo host, Josh, even made a statement that matches my belief; “SysAid isn’t out to manage the device, but only wants to manage the data.” Eureka! I made the same claim in a previous blog post (check out my BYOD Manifesto), so I was excited to hear that someone designed their product around the same idea regarding mobile devices and BYOD.
Other “extras” I enjoyed seeing had to do with automatic screenshot capture during an application error, user chat and queues, type-ahead search on the knowledge base, and a very needed “Show Me How” tutorial system to guide me through the demo so I could adjust quickly to the tool. Even though these are all features that can be found in other tools, SysAid is an epitome of the phrase “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
There you have it, my impression and review of SysAid. It’s not a platform like ServiceNow, and it’s not intended to be, but it hits well on all the core IT processes and, as a cloud application, is scalable for any size organization. Also, as an Israeli company with a brilliant and eclectic group of individuals (I referred to them as the United Nations, given the mix of nationalities in the company), SysAid demonstrates how a relatively small IT vendor can build a solid and reliable product, with the key features required to “get the job done”….much like a Swiss Army Knife.