iET Solutions in the Gartner Magic Quadrant

Last Friday, Gartner released the Magic Quadrant for the IT Services Desk, a research report that identifies the top players in the enterprise market for IT service desk software. iET Solutions made the Magic Quadrant for the first time this year. The report costs $1,995 from Gartner, but you will be able to access the report from the iET Solutions corporate site this week.

Gartner describes IT Service Desk as a standalone market; our experience, as they say in the document, is that many customers are looking for an integrated solution that treats IT service delivery as a full integrated lifecycle, from incident through change and release management. We have always believed that an integrated approach was important in this context and our addition to the quadrant helps to validate that.

The points Gartner makes about innovation in core service desk functionality are well taken, I think. The service desk market is crowded and in danger of commoditization, but at the same time many organizations fail to achieve the benefits from their service desk implementations because they are implemented with weak processes or as standalone functions that have no connection to the management of the infrastructure. This is why our company’s focus on IT Service Management best practices, particularly ITIL, is so important, and paradoxically why so many vendors have left the core service desk functionality alone to focus on other areas of ITIL. I think that now that there are a number of players who have built out a strong vision in the core ITIL v.2 areas (Incident, Problem, Change, Configuration, Release, Service Level, Availability), the market will split. Some players will continue to build out support for the new ITIL v.3 processes; others will retrench and seek to differentiate themselves in core functionality like incident and problem management.

It is amazing that after all this time there is still activity in something as basic as “helpdesk” software. And you know what? It’s a lot of fun, too.

A possible solution to Vista issues

My previous exploration of Vista service packs and hotfixes led nowhere close to fixing my Vista issues. I was a little dejected for a while. But now I may have something to go on.

Excel 2007 just locked up on me today, as did Outlook. Recognizing the symptoms of an incipient total freeze-up of the system, I went in to take a look at the Task Manager. This once, I caught the conditions early enough that I was able to launch it and do some exploration. I quickly found a svchost process that was consuming a fair percentage of CPU (around 33%), and more troubling was also consuming memory—as I watched and investigated, it climbed from around 33 MB to over 60 MB.

I ran tasklist to see what that svchost process was running (svchost can run multiple services), but couldn’t figure out which process was the problem one. I found that if I right clicked on the process on the Process tab and chose Services, it would take me to the first service in the list that was running in that process. I then sorted the list of services by PID, opened a command prompt, and started net stopping the services owned by that PID systematically.

I found a few surprises; for instance, if you stop the uxsms process, which is responsible for the window manager, your screen goes totally black—but still accepts keyboard input. I was able to type in net start uxsms and bring back up the window manager. But none of the services I stopped fixed the climbing memory consumption, until I hit pcasvc, which is a service that is provided for compatibility with older versions of Windows. When I stopped the service, the memory usage stopped climbing and fell back, and I was able to do a clean reboot—though my Excel session never recovered.

A search indicates that other users have trouble with the same svchost process, though they indicate other culprits (ReadyBoost is one that gets mentioned). So there may be something going on here.

Update: Further testing indicates another possible culprit, which I disabled at the same time: CSCService, which supports Offline Files. It now appears pcasvc is OK. We’ll see if disabling CSCService does the trick.