BMC Helix ITSM Review

It is highly scalable but it is a complex enterprise application and needs proper administration on an ongoing basis.

What is most valuable?

It has complete coverage of ITIL processes and a rich functionality. Plus, it provides a strong customisation platform in AR System which is quite flexible.

How has it helped my organization?

BMC Remedy ITSM has been used both by the customers that I served as well as the software services companies that I actually worked for while serving those customers. In each case that I have seen so far, BMC Remedy has typically been implemented to transform multiple older ticketing systems into a centralised single IT ticketing system. In the case of telecom vendors, largely it is doing the job of network (operations support systems) ticketing and is integrated with variety of non-BMC applications. In each case, it has helped customers transform their applications stack and bring in a uniform, standardised process when compared to the past. This results in savings and streamlining of both people and processes.

What needs improvement?

The traditional UI of Remedy is somewhat of a weak point from the end user perspective. Also, from a developer perspective, a lack of version of management support unlike traditional programming languages such as Java/C# etc where you can easily create code lines, create branches/merge branches, create automated drops of code etc. One can't do this in Remedy in that manner. In general, Remedy doesn't support very aggressive Agile development and is more conducive to a waterfall kind of SDLC. Also, the debugging of defects or performance issues in Remedy is not well assisted by the Remedy Developer Studio.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using BMC products for around nine years, since 2006. My experience includes older versions such as 7.0.1, and 7.6.03/04.

What was my experience with deployment of the solution?

By itself the product is ok, but frequently people follow incorrect procedures while doing custom coding. BMC does provide guidelines to avoid this, but AR systems as such doesn't prevent you from coding in the incorrect manner, so such bad customisation can cause deployment/upgrade issues later. From versions 7.6.04 and 8.1 onwards, this is largely addressed due to the introduction of the overlay concept, but it is still not too easy to upgrade wherever you have heavy customisation.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Again the stability is frequently related to custom code rather than out of the box code. I don't think it is unusual for any application going live for the first time to be a bit unstable for the first two to three releases, at least after the first ever go-live.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Not much - it is highly scalable.

How are customer service and technical support?

Customer Service:

Customer service can vary wildly. With premier support from BMC, which is very expensive I believe, it can be quite fast and dedicated. But, if you have bronze, a basic service or worse, if you don't have direct service from BMC but only have access to them via some intermediate partner - then it may not always be smooth.

Technical Support:

I have experienced service to both extremes - very good and not good at all! Currently I am driving a project that has premier support so it is quite good in this case. They helped a lot in sorting out upgrade related issues and we had a very smooth excellent upgrade from 8.1 patch 002 to SP2.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Typically our customers switched from other products such as Amdocs Clarify or People Soft or home grown ticketing applications to BMC Remedy because the older platforms were not supported by the original vendor anymore OR they found the older solution was not scaling to their needs. Plus, older ticketing functionality was typically fragmented across multiple applications - e.g. for incident management, they may use one application and a completely different application for change management and so on. Now, it is all within one suite which is much easier to handle.

How was the initial setup?

BMC Remedy is set up for a real production environment and can be quite complex depending on what you have. For normal DEV/TEST environments, it is fairly straightforward, but it certainly is nothing like MS Office or something, where you can blindly click next-next and then finish and forget about the installation! It is a complex enterprise application and needs proper administration on an ongoing basis.

What about the implementation team?

In all cases, I have had my own set of people (belonging to a software services company) that did the implementation. In India, we have a pretty good pool of people available for this in general.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

I believe there is a strong need to actually compare Remedy, Service Now and couple of open source or free to download products and bring out what really the free products can achieve vis-a-vis established product like Remedy.

As of now, this is more of a perception (Remedy is costly, Free products have less functionality etc - but hardly anyone is going to great lengths to establish point by point, module by module what really is better in which software).

There is no point in listening to such comparison done by one of the vendors (e.g. BMC Remedy communities are having several comments of how Service Now lacks several things and customers coming back to Remedy. Service Now communities are saying exactly opposite. The need is to take out this bias and put down all the facts in a proper shoot-out.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

In most situations, we got involved only when customer had already made a decision to go for BMC Remedy so I can't really comment on this. But I think it is more to do with good sales pitch from BMC and the fact that it is an established tool with large enterprises that has typically tilted the scale towards BMC Remedy.

What other advice do I have?

For large organisations, or a medium organisation that is now growing due to new acquisitions etc. (typically several thousand people strong and a large presence in one or more countries) BMC Remedy is surely a very good choice. For smaller organisations, there is the option of BMC Remedy-On-Demand (ROD), but then they may have cheaper alternatives - or at least options that give low starting price.

Which version of this solution are you currently using?

8.1 SP2
**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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