What Does Serviceability Mean to You?

The following was originally posted on the Avaya site here.

Some days, I wonder if Serviceability is even a word as people I speak to often don’t know its meaning. Wikipedia, one of my favorite sources, defines

Serviceability as “refers to the ability of technical support personnel to install, configure, and monitor computer products, identify exceptions or faults, debug or isolate faults to root cause analysis, and provide hardware or software maintenance in pursuit of solving a problem and restoring the product into service. Incorporating serviceability facilitating features typically results in more efficient product maintenance and reduces operational costs and maintains business continuity.”

I care about the meaning of Serviceability and if people know its meaning because I’m a serviceability advocate. One of my responsibilities at Avaya is to lead Serviceability Engineering for the company, putting this term clearly in my wheel house. In general, I agree with Wikipedia, with the addition that Serviceability refers to not just maintenance support, but also the installation and configuration of the product. When asked what I mean by Serviceability, I use the following examples:

• Standardized and centralized logging
• Enhanced filtering and automatic pattern recognition
• Consistent use of SNMP alarming
• Secure Remote Access and Authentication
• Human Methodologies to approaching root cause
• Solution-wide call tracing
• Intuitive interface, with minimal set of data-gathering questions
• Automated tooling to evaluate the health of the solution
• Automated receipt and resolution of known issues
• Debugging tools and automation for particular product needs (ex. A tool to validate date in an embedded database, preventing the troubleshooter from needing DBA skills.)

I thought it would be an interesting conversation if we all took a moment to think about what Serviceability means to us. If you are a manufacturer, what do you focus on in your own products to deliver excellence in this area? If you are a Services employee (implementation and/or support), what sorts of things are you used to utilizing in the products you work on? What do you wish were present to help you do your job better? And perhaps most important, what about those of you that use communications products (all of us)? What do you expect around serviceability?

One of my favorite Serviceability features that Avaya offers is for our one-X Communicator softphone. From within the client’s user interface, the user can click a button that will generate a new email with all the logs (compressed) attached to the email. The user then answers some pre-populated questions and sends it to their IT support team. For those of you who have attempted to troubleshoot issues on a user’s desktop, you know how hard it can be to arrange for remote access and permissions to grab the necessary logs. This feature simplifies this for everyone involved (see YouTube video below for more on that)

Valued readers – Let’s make use of the comments functionality on this website. Please voice your opinions and let me know what Serviceability means to you. What are the Serviceability features that you absolutely love? What are the gaps that drive you crazy and you wish someone would address? Let me know, and I’ll correlate and comment on them in a future post.

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