Serio Blog

Thursday, 27 Oct 2011

The confirmed changes and enhancements for the Sat 29th October update are below.

Quicker Engage Login – We have introduced a faster way for clients to contact you through Engage. Whereas previously customers had to enter their Account Code (for example, A154B-N76WK) they can now just enter a much shorter 4-character 'pin' such as A123. The pin for your account is shown on the 'remote support' page within SerioClient.

Data Filters – Serio now allows you to define quite complex expressions to filter out data in Manage Incidents, Problem, Service Requests and Changes. The filters can use boolean operators, string and data comparison operators, data functions and wildcards.

A filter editor is provided to help constructing the queries.

Eg: (branch='Edinburgh' or branch='Glasgow') and priority in ('Critical', 'High')

Text customisation – We've added the ability to change text phrases used within SerioAdmin and SerioClient. Edit a phrase or word once, and wherever that phrase or word appears in the application it will be replaced.

Report Text Customisation – We've made it so that you can change any text on the standard reports contained within SerioReports. For example, you might decide to change the company name displayed at the top or each report to that of your own organisation.

Block Hours – We've extended the support for billing models beyond the current pay-for-time, pay-per-event models by introducing a concept of 'Block Bookings' or 'Block Hours'. Under this new model, customers can purchase time in advance. When technicians then spend this time with customers, they can easily record the time they've spent with customers against this booking.

Tools are available to help managers know when bookings are running out, and the status of bookings can be viewed at any time.

Bookings can also be recurring, automatically renewing on a scheduled basis.

Linked Documents – We've added the ability to upload documents and associate them directly with Company/Branches. The existing ability to upload/download to other entities such as CIs is unaffected.

Custom Ticket Prints – Serio now allows you to define custom ticket printouts. These templates are (typically) designed using an HTML editor, added to Serio, and they then become available when you want to print a ticket. These templates can also be directly emailed from the system, and can be used both from the Service Explorer and from the Manage … chapters.

New CSV Export Option - In Incident/Problem/Change/Service Request Management, a new 'Save to CSV' option has been added: 'Description with Resolution'. If chosen, this option causes the Comments made a the ticket is set to Pending Complete and Complete to be added to the Export (assuming the ticket is resolved).

New Reports – New Billing reports have been added (IB18 and 19) .

New Reports - New report IL26a shows how tickets were received (email, phone etc) by Issue Type. The satisfaction survey reports allow you to specify a resolving Team. It is optional; do this and you'll get a team-by-team view of satisfaction. The first-time fix report has a new version 14a that again allows you to specify one or more resolving teams.

New Reports – Summary reports that can be automatically sent directly to customers (TS5 and TS6).

Emails – The amount of information you can send about Changes and Change Plans, and the specific handling of the Main Change has been strengthened and expanded – meaning you can cite more data in the Task emails you send.

Emails – Extended Data can now be included in any email you send.

SLA Selection – We've added the ability to 'wild card' SLA selection, where many different characteristics of a ticket can be combined to derive an Individual SLA. Company, Branch, Priority, Impact, Ticket Category, Ticket Subcategory, Issue Type can all be combined together. Existing selection criteria remain.

Resolution Email BCC – You can now BCC the resolution email for a ticket to an number of email addresses. This works in much the same way as Broadcast Alerts; define the ticket characteristics that the ticket must match (such as Priority or Company) and then attach to this a list of email addresses. When the resolution email for a ticket is sent to the logging customer, it will be BCC'd to those on your list.

Service Explorer – You can now edit Extended Data information from the Service Explorer, bypassing the need to open the ticket directly.

Extended Data Editor – The Extended Data editor has been improved. It makes better use of screen space and can be maximised, making it easier to work with long free text data.

Assignment Notification – You can now broadcast assignment notifications to the whole team if you choose.

Service Explorer - Depending on when you last took an update, a number of improvements have been made to the Service Explorer. Extended Data is now easier to access, links to CIs from tickets (and vice versa) are easier to follow.

ODBC Driver - Our 'hosted' ODBC drivers has been through a number of revisions to improve interoperability with other tools.

Customised Broadcast Alerts – Broadcast Alert emails can be customised, giving customers an alternative to the standard email template. The template for the email is simply placed into the comment for the Broadcast Alert.

Improvements to Networking Architecture – Client-side networking infrastructure and algorithms have been improved, leading to greater reliability on poor networks.

Copying of Extended Data – Both tickets logged from Quick Logs and from Scheduled Events now both copy Extended Data.

Default Company Branch on Scheduled Events – A System Setting has been added to control the way that the Company/Branch is defaulted for tickets logged via Scheduled Events – either the Customer Company/Branch can be used, or that from the template ticket.

Sunday, 05 Sep 2010

We are pleased to announce the availability of the SerioPlus ODBC Driver. The driver allows SerioPlus customers to use third-party applications such as Access to write their own reports, whilst  enjoying all the benefits of a hosted solution.

It works wherever you are, over the Internet, through firewalls. Proxies are supported.

What follows assumes an existing knowledge of using ODBC-based report writers, which I know many customers have in depth, having seen the reports they have created for themselves prior to switching to SerioPlus.

We are delighted to say they can now run these reports on SerioPlus.

Testing and Compatibility

In this release, we have focused mainly on ensuring compatibility with

  • MSQRY32.exe (the query tool in Microsoft Office 2010)
  • Access 2010 (please read the notes below)
  • Powerbuilder
  • Infomaker

If you use an earlier version of Office we recommend an upgrade to the latest version.

Pricing

The driver is free to use now for anyone with a SerioPlus account, from December there will be a charge in order to cover the significant bandwidth that is used by some applications (notably Access)

Availability

Just download the latest tools from the Plustools download area. Contact support if have not yet bookmarked this.

Setup

Setup is like any other ODBC driver. Simply use the pre-existing SerioPlus ODBC profile which is installed when you install the client tools, or setup your own as you would any other ODBC data source.

About the Driver

The driver limits the amount of rows you can download in a single query to 3000, to prevent excessive loading on the SerioPlus servers. Experienced SQL users will know that this is not really a restriction – use the SQL language to aggregate rows on the server prior to download, and retrieval arguments to select just the portion of data you are interested in.

The driver also limits the amount of time a single query can take to 90 seconds. As above, this isn't really a restriction – design your queries intelligently and they will execute in a few seconds or less.

Serio has a number of long string columns. The ODBC driver limits these to the first 4K of content.

The driver has no update capability. If you try to modify data the results will be unpredictable – this is by design.

You cannot use the driver to create tables, indices or stored procedures – this is by design. It's a read-only source.

Special Notes for MS Access Users

If you have pre-existing queries, these queries will be bound to a data source name (the actual name will have been set by you when you created it). Simply create a SerioPlus ODBC profile with the same name to run your queries.

If you are importing tables LINK to the tables. If you import them Access will try to download the entire data in the database onto your computer.

Without doubt, the best way to work with Access is to write focused queries and to have a good understanding of SQL. Having tried customer Access queries designed to look at service level performance, these run quickly and in seconds because they are well designed. If you design your own properly you will enjoy the same results. Used in this way Access is very powerful indeed.

Pivot tables are fully supported.

'Invalid Descriptor Index'

If you get this error, it means you have a long string in the middle of a SELECT list, when such columns should always be at the end.

For example, this query is correct and will run without error

select issue_no, issue_desc

from issue where log_date > '2010-09-06'.

This query will produce an 'invalid descriptor index' error

select issue_desc, issue_no

from issue where log_date > '2010-09-06'.

If you get this error, please re-design your query.

SerioPlus ODBC FAQ

Q: I downloaded the latest plustools, but there is nothing that says 'ODBC'. Is there an install problem?
A: The install creates an ODBC driver, and the ability to create an SerioPlus ODBC data source. There is no 'ODBC' icon as such, it's just like any other ODBC driver – it works with your reporting software.
 
Q: I keep getting 'unrecognised Account Code/Pin' when I try to connect.
A: You entered your Account Code or Account Key incorrectly when you setup your SerioPlus ODBC connection. Please re-enter these details.
 
Q: I have a Proxy, how do I set-up the driver?
A: Enter your Proxy details into SerioClient, and ensure that SerioClient works.
 
Q: I've got more than 3000 Incidents, can I still use this ODBC driver?
A: Yes. Use the SQL query language to create results on the SerioPlus server, and then only download these results. It's really what SQL was designed for. Most properly-designed reports download no more than a few hundred rows.
 
Q: Will you make this work with earlier versions of MS Office and MS Access?
A: It may work with earlier versions. However, we will only look at problems with the latest versions of the Microsoft products.
 
Q: I really want to download more than 3000 rows.
A: In that case, download them in batches of 3000. However, it should not be necessary to download entire databases in order to generate reports.
 
Q: Is the driver 64-bit or 32-bit?
A: It's a 32-bit driver, which means that you'll need to use 32-bit applications for best results.
 
Q: I've never written a report before, but I'd like to learn. Where do I start?
A: Access is a good place to start because there are a lot of web sites dedicated to novice users. Firebird is a good starter database. It's free to download, and comes with a simple starter database and has an active user forum. Once you learn how to construct SQL queries, apply what you've learned to SerioPlus.

Thursday, 17 Jun 2010

This weekend (19-20th June), we're releasing our first required update to the SerioPlus tools (SerioClient, SerioAdmin, and SerioReports). In addition to fixing some bugs, we made some important enhancements which we hope you'll like.

How to install

When you log in on Monday morning, you'll see a message prompting you to download and install the new version - just run the setup and you're ready to go.

Enhancements

Serio Engage (Server Edition)

Server Edition is a new version of Serio Engage that allows you to make secure through-firewall, unattended connections to your customer's servers in order to perform remote maintenance, including reboots.

We will be including one or more free licenses of the new Server Edition of Serio Engage in each SerioPlus account.

New Billing and Itemisation Features New billing features in SerioPlus allow you record all of your billable actions as you take them, along with the amounts charged. You can set-up the standard price bands for your time-based and fixed-fee services (which you can vary on a per company basis). You can then link these price bands to actions (for example, remote support or site visits), and accurately record the amount to be charged to the customer as the action is taken.

Later you can link individual chargeable amounts with an invoice. This enables you to produce itemised bills through SerioReports, giving a detailed breakdown of all your chargeable work, to send in support of your invoice.

New Reports

We've added some new reports to SerioReports. A new section called 'Billable and Charging Reports' contains a selection of itemisation reports that support the new billing features (see above).

There are also two new Company based activity summary reports (TS5 and TS6 in the 'Daily, Weekly, Monthly Status Reports section'), showing a breakdown of tickets logged for a selected company, along with service level statistics and a graphical summary.

As with all SerioReports, you can schedule these reports for automatic delivery to your customers.

Additionally, we've added a new detailed, per company billable time analysis report (IB18) in the 'Billable and Time Spent Reports'.

Bug Fixes

We've taken the opportunity to fix the few funnies you've reported to us since the launch of SerioPlus in March.

Spellchecker Problems

Some users found that the spellchecker dictionary seemed to be empty when pressing F7 (causing every word in Ticket and Action descriptions to be checked). We've fixed this issue now.

Serio Engage Performance Enhancements

A few changes we've made to the way our servers handle screen-sharing traffic from Serio Engage should enhance its performance for most users.

Problems Browsing Configuration Items from SerioClient

Users with large CMDBs (e.g. many thousands of records), were having problems browsing those through the Service Explorer in SerioClient. This problem has now been resolved.

Lots of Error Messages when your Session Times Out

Some of you found that SerioClient put a large number of error messages on screen after a session time out. Session time outs usually occur after a period of inactivity when your workstation goes into standby mode, cutting it off from our server. They can also happen as a result of our scheduled weekend maintenance, if you leave SerioClient logged on on Friday night.

We've reduced the messages shown on a session time out - you now just see a single message saying "Session Timed Out".

Problems with the Detailed Incident Print (ID1)

We have corrected a problem on the detailed Incident print (ID1) - Ctrl+P from Manage > Incidents - which caused the Configuration Item to be blank on the report (although it was shown if the report was reprinted).

Update to SerioPlus Tools on Monday 21st July

 

On Monday, we're releasing our first required update to the SerioPlus tools (SerioClient, SerioAdmin, and SerioReports). In addition to fixing some bugs, we made some important enhancements which we hope you'll like.

 

How to install

 

When you log in on Monday morning, you'll see a message prompting you to download and install the new version - just run the setup and you're ready to go.

 

Enhancements

 

Serio Engage (Server Edition)

 

This update of SerioPlus introduces a new service-based version of the Serio Engage host, targeted at remote server support.

 

Install the Serio Engage Server Edition service on your customer's server, and you can make secure unattended connections to the server to perform remote maintenance, including reboots. We will be including one or more free licenses of the new Server Edition of Serio Engage in each SerioPlus account.

 

New Billing and Itemisation Features

 

New billing features in SerioPlus allow you record all of your billable actions as you take them, along with the amounts charged. You can set-up the standard price bands for your time-based and fixed-fee services (which you can vary on a per company basis). You can then link these price bands to actions (for example, remote support or site visits), and accurately record the amount to be charged to the customer as the action is taken.

 

Later you can link individual chargeable amounts with an invoice. This enables you to produce itemised bills through SerioReports, giving a detailed breakdown of all your chargeable work, to send in support of your invoice.

 

New Reports

 

We've added some new reports to SerioReports. A new section called 'Billable and Charging Reports' contains a selection of itemisation reports that support the new billing features (see above).

 

There are also two new Company based activity summary reports (TS5 and TS6 in the 'Daily, Weekly, Monthly Status Reports section'), showing a breakdown of tickets logged for a selected company, along with service level statistics and a graphical summary.

 

As with all SerioReports, you can schedule these reports for automatic delivery to your customers.

 

Additionally, we've added a new detailed, per company billable time analysis report (IB18) in the 'Billable and Time Spent Reports'.

 

Bug Fixes

 

We've taken the opportunity to fix the few funnies you've reported to us since the launch of SerioPlus in March.

 

Spellchecker Problems

 

Some users found that the spellchecker dictionary seemed to be empty when pressing F7 (causing every word in Ticket and Action descriptions to be checked). We've fixed this issue now.

 

Serio Engage Performance Enhancements

 

A few changes we've made to the way our servers handle screen-sharing traffic from Serio Engage should enhance its performance for most users.

 

Problems Browsing Configuration Items from SerioClient

 

Users with large CMDBs (e.g. many thousands of records), were having problems browsing those through the Service Explorer in SerioClient. This problem has now been resolved.

 

Lots of Error Messages when your Session Times Out

 

Some of you found that SerioClient put a large number of error messages on screen after a session time out. Session time outs usually occur after a period of inactivity when your workstation goes into standby mode, cutting it off from our server. They can also happen as a result of our scheduled weekend maintenance, if you leave SerioClient logged on on Friday night.

 

We've reduced the messages shown on a session time out - you now just see a single message saying "Session Timed Out".

 

Problems with the Detailed Incident Print (ID1)

 

We have corrected a problem on the detailed Incident print (ID1) - Ctrl+P from Manage > Incidents - which caused the Configuration Item to be blank on the report (although it was shown if the report was reprinted).

Monday, 17 May 2010

A few improvement are coming down the line for SerioPlus users, likely one week away.

Billing/Charging

The most significant change we've made is in the area of billing, and allowing you to record the chargeable value (i.e., cash) of activities you undertake for clients

We've created a system that allows you to define standard charging bands, which can either be standard across-the-board or varied from customer to customer.

Using the charging bands, you can nominate specific Actions to be either charged at an hourly rate based on the time taken, or on the basis of a flat fee. The system is designed to be flexible, so if you negotiate something special with the customer then the system will cope with that just fine.

At the 'back end' of the Billing/Charging update we've added a screen that allows you to manage your unbilled charges, and to assign these to invoices as you invoice your customers.

If a customer asks you to justify your charges, production of a fully itemised list will be easy.

A number of new 'cash/billing' reports have also been added.

Remote Tools Update

We've performed a few updates to the Remote Tools in SerioPlus.

Aside from changing the default screen view to 'smooth view' to improve the visual aspects, we've also made it possible to show your own desktop for customer training.

Sunday, 07 Mar 2010

What's New?

No Server - it's a hosted service. This is the most important change – you no longer need to maintain a server, perform upgrades or backups, worry about security if it's on the Internet. The service is delivered over the Internet where ever you are. The client tools are a free download, install them where you need them.

New support tools. Integrated into SerioPlus are tools for remote desktop sharing, file upload and download to customer desktops, and text chat facilities. These tools will work seamlessly through  most firewalls and are an aspect of the service we will continue to develop in the coming months. These tools are there to help you deliver quicker, more efficient support to your customers regardless of their network location.

Integration of the Serio CMDB/CMS into the Service Explorer. The Service Explorer has been a popular addition to the tool, now you can browse and edit Configuration Data directly from the Service Explorer. The Item Diagram is more accessible too – simply click a CI and it will display the Item in visual context.

Updates to Reports, including Scheduled Running. We've added daily, weekly and monthly status reports, and like the rest of the reports package you can schedule this to run reports and email them in PDF to whoever you choose whenever you choose.

Concurrent Licensing. All licensing is now based on an easy to understand concurrent connection model.

Revised Logging Form. We've made some substantial changes to the logging form, to improve ergonomics and reduce time taken to log a ticket.

Web Portal. Your own web portal with zero set-up required. Just click the link on the SerioClient welcome page.

Try it now: Existing customers who wish to try the new service should email

serio-support _at_ serioplus _dot_ com

to obtain a Voucher Code. The Voucher Code will place you on specially-reserved servers away from our public servers.

Sign-up to try here: http://www.seriosoft.com/passport/newpassport.htm

Wednesday, 10 Feb 2010

SerioPlus Update, Getting Closer
SerioPlus has moved on in leaps and bounds since our original announcement back in October. The user testing we’ve done has gone extremely well – customers have reported that the application looks and works as expected, is responsive, and works seamlessly on their networks without any configuration changes.
Most importantly, SerioPlus does not require the customer to have their own server as mentioned here (http://www.seriosoft.com/Blog/?p=320).
This post will address some of the new features we’ve added. Time permitting, I’ll post about how the new architecture differs from the old in the next week or so.
New Features
Remote Control & Customer Support
You’re probably thinking that this is nothing new – VNC does this. The features we’ve added to SerioPlus allow you to see & control a users desktop machine through firewalls, with zero config for you as a Serio user.
Our aim with this is to remove the need for you (our customer) to resort to VPNs in order to help your customers. We want you to be able to welcome new customers easily and still offer great support.
We’ve gone a few steps further however in recent weeks. SerioPlus also has remote file upload and download – so if you need to send an update you can do so, or if you need access to an error log file, you can do so. Again, this works through the HTTP-based transfer protocols we are using, and via the SerioPlus servers.
Finally, there is a chat (IM) that works through firewalls as well. We’ve added this as another means of customers to contact you, and will be an area of future development.
Thank you to everyone who has helped us to test and refine this technology.
Report Scheduling
This is also now live. It’s very simple, take any of the reports in SerioReports and schedule them to run at a date and time of your choosing to as many people as you choose. Each report is delivered in PDF format, and each report can be run daily, weekly, or monthly. Again for SerioPlus users, this will be a zero config feature.
We are currently adding a number of summary reports that will show Key Performance Indicators that will be well suited to this.
Configuration Management now integrated into the Service Explorer
We’ve expanded the Service Explorer to include information about Configuration Items (CIs). This data can now be viewed and edited directly from the Service Explorer. We’ve also made the Item Diagram easier to access as well, so you can use it in conjunction with the Service Explorer.
Where we’re at Right Now
All of the major items of functionality we wanted to have are now in place. Most importantly for us, the new server infrastructure has proved itself to be reliable over the past 6 months since it went live. We’ve also managed to identify infrastructure providers that will give us the reliability and performance we need.
We are currently working on a new install program, and are working through a number of user interface updates to SerioClient, SerioAdmin and SerioReports.
Where we want to be in the next 4 months
- We want to allow you have a ‘contact support’ applet you can add to your customers desktops, or that they can download from the internet in a few moments. If they need help, they click to start a text chat session with one of your support agents, who then has access to the file and screen capabilities of SerioPlus. This will all work regardless of firewalls. It’s already possible to log a ticket from text chat, and this is something we want to take further.
- We want you to be able to monitor your computers networks and servers easily, again regardless of firewall issues. We want you to know when your customer has a problem before the customer does.
If you have your own Custom Reports
Custom report writing has always been a tricky issue for any hosted service or application. Our response to this has been to create a (read-only) ODBC driver for SerioPlus (in fact, this is how SerioReports works).
Whilst this works perfectly well for SerioReports, not all of the features required by products such as Crystal are implemented yet (mainly the schema discovery functions), and you should assume that the SerioPlus ODBC driver will not work with products other than SerioReports. We’ll be continuing to develop the SerioPlus ODBC driver in the next 6 months, but in the meantime call us to discuss what possibilities exist for workarounds.

SerioPlus has moved on in leaps and bounds since our original announcement back in October. The user testing we’ve done has gone extremely well – customers have reported that the application looks and works as expected, is responsive, and works seamlessly on their networks without any configuration changes. Thank you to everyone that took the time to help out and refine the technology.

Most importantly, SerioPlus does not require the customer to have their own server as mentioned here.

This post will address some of the new features we’ve added. Time permitting, we’ll post about how the new architecture differs from the old in the next week or so.

New Features

Remote Control & Customer Support 

You’re probably thinking that this is nothing new – VNC does this. The features we’ve added to SerioPlus allow you to see & control a users desktop machine through firewalls, with zero config for you as a Serio user. It is just there, and works.

Our aim with this is to remove the need for you (our customer) to resort to VPNs in order to help your customers. We want you to be able to welcome new customers easily and still offer great support.

To make this possible, we've gone further than desktop sharing. SerioPlus also has remote file upload and download – so if you need to send an update you can do so, or if you need access to an error log file, you can do so. Again, this works through the HTTP-based transfer protocols we are using, through most firewalls, and via the SerioPlus servers.

Finally, there is a chat (IM) that works through most firewalls as well. We’ve added this as another means of customers to contact you, and will be an area of future development.

Report Scheduling

This is also now live. It’s very simple, take any of the reports in SerioReports and schedule them to run at a date and time of your choosing for as many people as you choose. Each report is delivered in PDF format, and each report can be run daily, weekly, or monthly. Again for SerioPlus users, this will be a zero config feature.

We are currently adding a number of summary reports that will show Key Performance Indicators that will be well suited to this.

Configuration Management now integrated into the Service Explorer

We’ve expanded the Service Explorer to include information about Configuration Items (CIs). This data can now be viewed and edited directly from the Service Explorer. We’ve also made the Item Diagram easier to access as well, so you can use it in conjunction with the Service Explorer.

Where we’re at Right Now

All of the major items of functionality we wanted to have are now in place. Most importantly for us, the new server infrastructure has proved itself to be reliable over the past 6 months since it went live. We’ve also managed to identify infrastructure providers that will give us the reliability and performance we need.

We are currently working on a new install program, and are working through a number of user interface updates to SerioClient, SerioAdmin and SerioReports.

Where we want to be in the next 4 months

- We want to allow you have a ‘contact support’ applet you can add to your customers desktops, or that they can download from the internet in a few moments. If they need help, they click to start a text chat session with one of your support agents, who then has access to the file and screen capabilities of SerioPlus. This will all work regardless of firewalls. It’s already possible to log a ticket from text chat, and this is something we want to take further.

- We want you to be able to monitor your computers networks and servers easily, again regardless of firewall issues. We want you to know when your customer has a problem before the customer does.

If you have your own Custom Reports

Custom report writing has always been a tricky issue for any hosted service or application. Our response to this has been to create a (read-only) ODBC driver for SerioPlus (in fact, this is how SerioReports works).

Whilst this works perfectly well for SerioReports, not all of the features required by products such as Crystal are implemented yet (mainly the schema discovery functions), and you should assume that the SerioPlus ODBC driver will not work with products other than SerioReports. We’ll be continuing to develop the SerioPlus ODBC driver in the next 6 months, but in the meantime call us to discuss what possibilities exist for workarounds.

Friday, 27 Nov 2009

SerioPlus has now moved to the next stage of testing. If you've been given an invitation code you can sign-up and login at the link below to take part.

http://www.seriosoft.com/passport/newpassport.htm

Tuesday, 27 Oct 2009

We're currently hard at work perfecting Serio Release 6.

This will be the biggest release we've done, and the biggest departure from our current offerings that we've ever made.

The most obvious and welcome improvement is that we have created a brand new Server – and one that doesn't use DCOM (that's right, no more DCOM). What this means for customers is that the whole thing runs as a Windows service. Everything, including email. The new Server (called Serio Transaction Server) is actually a web server, and delivers services to all our client applications via HTTP (SSL).

Most excitingly, by February 2010 we'll be able to offer each customer the ability to host their server with us, using Serio as a service over the Internet – so you won't need your own server. We are calling this Serio Plus.

(If you still want to host the software yourself that's fine, we want to offer a choice of hosting options).

Save Money

We aim to save customers money by taking care of

  • Upgrades
  • Backups
  • Security
  • Installation of web tools like PocketSerio-i and SerioClient Express

Customers will also save money by not needing to maintain a server platform themselves, and will not need to spend money on upgrading operating systems.

New Licensing Model

All customers using the new Serio Plus service will immediately transfer onto a concurrent licensing model – making your licenses go further, allowing you to install our client software onto as many machines as you choose.

Serio Release 6 FAQ

Q: Are you going to force me to give-up the server I have now?
A: No. Upgrades and updates will still be available for those that want to host the software themselves.
 
Q: What stage are you currently at?
A: The new server is currently live, and working with us.
 
Q: If I want to move to Serio Plus, what is involved?
A: Simply send us two things: Your attachments, and your database. We will then set you up with a Serio Plus account. We will be able to do this in a matter of a few hours for most customers.
 
Q: Will it cost any extra?
A: For the majority of customers, we intend to offer Serio Plus as a 'no extra cost' option.
 
Q: Will it save me money?
A: In most cases, we think so. You no longer need to maintain a server (so, for example, you can cancel your server maintenance contract). You no longer need to perform upgrades, or perform backups. If you use our products to maintain a support web presence, we do that for you. The fact that Serio Plus offers only concurrent licensing will also reduce costs.
 
Q: Is it secure?
A: We've added multiple levels of security into Serio Plus. Aside from account controls such as account Ids and pins, we've created Serio Plus such that each account runs in it's own virtual space, separate from other accounts. We think it's pretty secure.
 
Q: Will I have to make changes to my firewall?
A: Almost certainly not. Our testing so far has indicated that if a machine can access the Internet with Internet Explorer, Serio Plus will work also.
 
Q: Why have you done this? After all, you are a software company.
A: We've done this to lower the barriers to ownership, certainly. But we also want to offer some new and powerful services and needed a platform to provide these to customers. More information will be provided about these new services later.
 

Wednesday, 01 Jul 2009

To celebrate the launch of Serio IT Service View Pro, Serio will be holding a Plugin writing competition during July, August and September 2009.

We'll be awarding a winning prize of USD$400 and a runner-up prize of USD$200 for the most useful, original and best thought-out Plugins submitted.

Background: IT Service View monitors IT Services & computes Availability statistics by means of Plugins - these are monitoring packages written in SerioScript that have published Properties and Responses defined by the Plugin author. Plugins can access WMI and SNMP data, read files, access Performance Counter data, read web pages, analyse web page content - and in this way verify the state of different IT Services.

This is what the judges will be looking for, and the criteria on which Plugin entries will be judged:

  1. The Plugin covers a product or service not covered by one of the current Standard Plugins.
  2. The Plugin covers a product or service in reasonably widespread use.
  3. The Plugin works reliably.
  4. The Plugin is easy to use, by sensible use of Properties and Responses. There should be no need for users to change the Plugin code to make it work.
  5. The Plugin has a clear description telling you what it does, and how to use it. If the product or service being monitored requires any special set-up, then the description will tell you this also.

Closing date for submissions is September 30th 2009.

Terms and conditions of Entry

Entries must be submitted by email to competition@seriosoft.com.

Plugins must be exported and supplied in exported form, as attachments you your entry email.

If you've used any MIB files that are not supplied as standard in IT Service View, you must include these in your entry email.

Correspondence of any kind will not be entered into regarding the competition.

The entry email must be entitled 'Plugin competition'.

The decision of the judges is final.

You must have a Paypal account in order to accept the prizes offered - no Paypal account, no prize. Any fees deducted by Paypal will be made from the prize money.

You may submit more than one entry. However, each separate entry must be submitted in a single email - do not submit multiple entries in a single email.

By entering, you agree that we may place your Plugin onto a Community Plugin webpage for download by others.

If you create a DLL to be used as part of the Plugin, you must supply full source code for the DLL and instructions on how to build (or supply the project files).

Winners must supply the following information about themselves for publication: Name, Nationality, Country of Residence, Occupation - so that we can publish the winner's details. By taking part in the Competition, you warrant that any Plugin supplied is your own work, and does not breach the copyright of any individual or organisation.

Prizes are non-transferable and there are no alternatives.

All taxes, transfers, insurances, and other expenses resulting from the prize are the sole responsibility of the winners unless otherwise stated.

Failure to claim a prize within the time or in the manner specified may result in disqualification and the selection of an alternative winner.

The competition and these rules are governed by Scottish Law.

It is your sole responsibility to ensure that your details and e-mail address are accurate, and that Serio is informed of any changes to these. Serio accepts no responsibility for any changes which are not properly notified from the time of submission of your entry to the time of notification that the prize has been awarded.

Monday, 29 Jun 2009

If you or your colleagues receive work emails through Blackberry handhelds, the chances are your company is using a piece of software called Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES).

BES diagramBES provides the link between your company's mail server (e.g. Microsoft Exchange) and the mobile network (T-Mobile, Vodafone, etc.) that actually delivers and receives emails from handhelds (as shown in the diagram).

If this link is broken, no-one will be able to send or receive work emails through their Blackberries.

It's clearly in the interests of Service Delivery managers that the availability of this vital service is continuously monitored, so that Service Desk staff know about any problems before users do. Additionally, if you can report at the end of the month on the exact periods of downtime experienced and the percentage availability achieved, you have valuable information for improving user experience of the service.

The Blackberry Enterprise Server Plugin for Serio IT Service View helps you monitor and report on key indicators of the health and availability of your Blackberry Enterprise Server.

Connection to the SRP Host

In order to send emails out over the mobile network, your Blackberry Enterprise Server periodically connects to something called the SRP Host. You'll have entered the address of the SRP host when you first set up your Blackberry Enterprise Server. You can see what the SRP Host address is for your country by going to the Blackberry website.

The BES Plugin for Serio IT Service View monitors the ability of your Blackberry Enterprise Server to connect to the SRP Host. Since no connection to the SRP Host effectively means no service, IT Service View changes the BES device status to Red (Unavailable) and, if desired, sends out email notifications.

For users of Serio IT Service View Pro, these periods of downtime will appear on scheduled Downtime and Availability reports sent to managers via email.

Build-up of Undelivered Emails on the Blackberry Server

Another indicator that there may be a problem is a build-up of undelivered emails on the BES. Again, the Plugin can notify you when there are an excessive number of such undelivered emails. As soon as the number rises above a threshold you define, IT Service View will alert you.

Using other Plugins to Monitor BES

Other Plugins for Serio IT Service View can provide valuable information about problems elsewhere that may be affecting your Blackberry Enterprise Server.

For example, use the Exchange Plugin to monitor the health of your Microsoft Exchange Server. Use the Windows 2003/2008 Plugin to monitor the Windows Server on which BES is running, or to check that Blackberry services are running correctly and restart them if not.

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