Service Manager continues to be the odd child in the System Center 2012 suite. Those that are able to work with the product can write their own ticket, but getting to that point has been tough for a lot of IT Pros.

A bit of history: Service Manager actually came from customer requests back in the Systems Management Server (SMS) days (early 2000's), where all they wanted was for Microsoft to develop a HelpDesk product that could tie into SMS. The finished product would consume the SMS hardware and software inventory records and keep detailed logs of support calls assigned to each user and each endpoint. It took over 10 years, an initial effort that was trash canned and started from scratch, and what customers eventually got was Service Manager. Not exactly what they asked for, instead Service Manager is a sort of "framework" or skeleton that requires a huge amount of customization for each individual environment. On one hand, this is great because Service Manager can be tailored to fit the varying needs of each organization, but on the other hand IT doesn't always have the time to, basically, build their own app. Service Manager takes a lot of planning up front and then an investment in time and resources to get it working exactly right. Because of this, those wanting to use Service Manager are finding that reaching out to consulting firms produces the shortest and most cost effective route to get the task completed. One company dedicated to Service Manager, Cireson, is seeing its business explode because of this.

Microsoft has heard customer complaints about the complexity of Service Manager and has been steadily releasing helpful documents, information, and training options. Obviously, Microsoft wants companies to utilize Service Manager, so it behooves them to provide options for customer education and learning.

Microsoft has just released a new Microsoft Virtual Academy course on System Center 2012 Service Manager that includes 11 different modules, covering all aspects of things IT Pros need to know to get their mind wrapped around a service desk application from Microsoft. Because Service Manager truly is a framework and not a click-and-use solution, I'd suggest reviewing your company's needs for a service desk application, taking only the modules you need now, and then coming back later to finish up.

The course is located here: System Center 2012 Service Manager: Planning, Deploying, Managing

Here's the course syllabus:

  • Architecture & Design - In this module you learn about the System Center Service Manager 2012 SP1 architecture and design insights.
  • Connectors - In this module you will learn about using Connectors in architecting and planning a deployment. Connectors topics covered are Active Directory, Operations Manager, Configuration Manager, Orchestrator, VMM, and Exchange.
  • Incident Management - In this module you will learn how to navigate Incident Management in Service Manager.
  • Problem Management - In this module you will learn about controlling the infrastructure environment using Problem Management.
  • Knowledge Management - In this module you will learn about using Knowledge Management as a key component to manage knowledge-based articles.
  • Automated Service Manager - In this module you will learn insights for Automated Service Offerings in System Center 2012 Service Manager.
  • Extending Service Manager - in this module you will learn about Extending Service Manager in System Center 2012 Service Manager.
  • Change Management - In this module you will learn using Change Management to record, manage, authorize, prioritize, plan, test, implement, document, and review in a controlled manner.
  • Release Management - In this module you will learn how through Release Management a business take a change and actually implement it into its environment.
  • Service Requests - In this module you will learn about managing and implementing service requests through the service catalog in System Center 2012 Service Manager.
  • Reporting & Data Warehouse - In this module you will learn how Service Manager Reporting & Data Warehouse is the hub for all of System Center and how to architect for your business.