What's the buzz with Innovation Suite?
Capgemini MyCloud application, delivering rich end to end functionality to request and provision VMs, from request submission and approval, through automatic provisioning, request distribution to our Service Providers, to update of relevant central and client CMDB, has been build 100% using Innovation Suite. What is this, you may ask. Well this is certainly something worth checking if you are in IT Service Management business. I had access to early beta and this is how it changes the game we play.
You CAN teach old dog new tricks
Coming from “traditional” Remedy development and architecture background, seeing Innovation Studio was one of the “wow moments” for me, breath of fresh air. For a start – record and view definitions are separated. This makes extending both the data model and presentation layer much easier and more flexible. I especially enjoyed the concept of record inheritance, in which on top of existing records (in my case mainly records from Foundation Library), I could easily build my own definitions, that add extra content to base records while still maintaining the parent characteristics. Hence, if you need more or less what “Person” definition offers, but would like to add fields holding information on what sort of pizza does an employee like – this is just few mouse clicks away! Building view definitions has never been easier as well, one just need to drag and drop either out of the box components or custom made UI elements.
Ah yes, custom made components. Ever wished this fancy Facebook widget was there is “classical” Remedy? Or wanted to include Google Maps in your application? Well, now with Innovation Suite, you can easily build anything you want with Java, based on either your own skills and imagination, or widely available code snippets on the internet. You can then use them in your Smart Application directly, create a reusable library for all the apps to use, or even, with BMC Marketplace, sell your library to everyone else dreaming of introducing those cool looking maps! This is in my view one of the best features of the new suite, as you are no longer limited to components pre-installed with your Remedy engine. And if you are skilled appropriately, you can monetize your work and let others benefit from your work.
Recently I was pulling my hair out trying to debug some workflow populating user cache. Traditionally you read the logs, analyze filters, guides etc, GO TO 120, Set z1D_Action and so on – not the most pleasant task. Did you ever fantasize about workflow being a simple BPML diagram that actually does all the “complex”processing for you in the background? Guess what – this is what Innovation Suite excels in. You simply drag and drop process components, connect them into intuitive and understandable process diagram and off you go. Remedy does all the hard work for you, so you can focus on really important stuff – modeling the business process to make your users happy. No matter big or small process, in Innovation Studio it is always very easy to read and analyze. My hint for all of you building very large processes is – keep them modular. Rather than cluttering the process with all the tasks required – divide your process into sub processes, which are then called by your main process. This way not only your diagram looks nicer and will be more understandable but you have much more flexible ways to test parts of your app using Manage Processes. I found this extremely useful while building a complex functionality calling multiple adapters.
Ah, OK, I dropped another name – “adapters”. This is what we liked a lot in Innovation Suite. You now have an adapter framework, allowing you to create interfaces with any system you like. Adapters can be built in any programming language of your choice (ok, we did not test with Logo, but I suppose the little turtle there might have issues understanding modern IT concepts J ) and as long as they follow Remedy standards, they can be used as a gateway to any system you like. What we did in Capgemini MyCloud is we created connectors to Cloud Provisioning Portal (to deploy VMs), another external ITSM with SmartIT, Jira and external CMDB. Once developed, our connectors were hosted in Azure (although you can host them wherever you like, including your testing datacenter in the basement, and this is not a made up example) and opened up Innovation Suite for all the interfaces mentioned above. What is cool about this framework is the connectors can easily be reused – for different tenants in Innovation Suite, different remedy instance or even completely different system.
I wanted to end up my post with something really sexy and the choice was obvious – GUI for applications. Angular JS based UI means you can create look and feel of the application in no time. We have created a custom, fully branded GUI for our Capgemini MyCloud in HTML and Angular JS and were really happy to see how simple it is to include something completely custom into Innovation Suite application. Innovation Suite in general brings features and improvements we all have been waiting for and I believe that this release will be a game changer for BMC. I certainly hope that based on my blog post (oh and I did not even mention Multi Tenancy redesign in this version and tons of other features), you feel similar.
...and by the way...
We Polish people are shy by nature, but worth mentioning that our Innovation Suite based Smart Application - Capgemini MyCloud won 1st prize in Smart App Competition at Engage 2016. If you would like to see how it looks (and works) or know more about Capgemini and what we do, please check the video below, or reach out to Lukasz Piech or Daniel Musiał