Microsoft Service Desk to be a hit with SMBs?

The new system management tool could appeal to small and midsize businesses used to a DIY approach, says industry analyst.
Written by Jeanne Lim, Contributor

SINGAPORE--Microsoft's entry into the service desk market will most likely appeal to small and midsize businesses (SMBs) that do not have the means to purchase packaged software from established vendors, says an analyst.

Michael Warrilow, director at research company Hydrasight, made the comment following Microsoft's announcement Tuesday that it plans to release a systems management offering. Code-named Service Desk, the product is slated to ship by the end of 2007.

Warrilow told ZDNet Asia that unlike larger enterprises which can afford to purchase products from major systems management vendors, such as CA, BMC, Hewlett-Packard and IBM, SMBs usually have to make do with "do-it-yourself" software. Smaller companies typically tweak Microsoft Access or Lotus Notes, and customize these applications to act as their helpdesk tools, he explained.

"[This customization] tends to be done at the workgroup level where Microsoft will probably have its first success," he said.

With the availability of Microsoft Service Desk, which will be used as a foundation for a set of management-related tasks such as tracking a company's IT assets or updating software configurations from a central location, SMBs will have a "cost-effective" alternative to higher-end products, he added.

Warrilow believes that the new product will find favor with smaller businesses because they are familiar with Microsoft products and find such applications easy to use.

He explained that there is a vast number of existing Microsoft SharePoint implementations amongst SMBs. Because Service Desk will be developed based on Microsoft's existing technologies which include SharePoint, SQL, Windows Workflow Foundation and InfoPath, Warrilow noted that SMB users will not require as much training to operate the new product. This will help reduce helpdesk support costs, he said.

However, as the product will not be available until next year, he advised organizations to use the next 12 to 18 months to investigate and plan, and decide if Service Desk "suits their requirements".

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