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Codeless Configuration Rules, Scripting Drools

‎04-10-2013 07:26 AM - edited ‎09-27-2015 07:14 PM

Codeless configuration rules, scripting drools

It’s a fact of life that from mid-size through the Enterprise, businesses want to tailor their software packages.  The traditional approach for deploying software packages is to do extensive customization using scripting or proprietary interfaces. This strategy requires familiarity with coding language such as JavaScript, knowledge of the system’s unique language extensions, and an understanding of the application’s underlying data structures.  The degree of change can range from simple to complex, and all lay a foundation for future maintenance issues.


Today users are looking to take better advantage of built-in best practices (like ITIL) that are included in the software while customizing only on an “as needed” basis. The focus is on tailoring and configuration rather than heavy customization. The modern approach of codeless configuration provides users with an easy way to do common tailoring (standard changes needed by most users) so that those changes seamlessly carry over from upgrade to upgrade, and  can be easily modified as needed. That’s why codeless configuration is growing in popularity as a “must have” feature when evaluating new software solutions, including ITSM solutions.  


Why scripting drools

Scripting and coding are powerful but come with a cost.  These changes can bring even a perceived simple upgrade to its knees, and complicate the change management process as:

  • Scripting requires skilled technical expertise that is costly
  • Scripts can be difficult to manage from both a source management and testing perspective
  • Non-native scripts are not covered by standard support contracts of a software package so impact the support process
  • Common configuration and tailoring needs tend to evolve over time and require updates so scripting is not an ideal solution
  • Script insertions may have compliance impact

There are added concerns when you are talking about a SaaS solution:

  • A benefit of SaaS is worry-free upgrades but the introduction of custom code (if allowed by the vendor), diminishes that process and may lead to  increased TCO  through added fees,  more services and so on
  • SaaS systems are updated at a regular cadence, and if you have special code – you may need to skip or wait for upgrades that could delay your team's access to the newest features

The net result is that availability can suffer, reliability may be questioned and the change management process becomes more complex - adding cost and risk. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way anymore.


Why codeless configuration rules

With codeless configuration changes are easy as modern design techniques include use of wizard-driven intuitive graphical interfaces. This allows an administrators or process owner to modify work flows, tables, forms and so on without having programming skills. The benefits of codeless configuration include:

  • Changes are easy and can be done as needed, making the system flexible
  • Changes are retained during upgrade, eliminating special handling and testing
  • Changes fall under standard support guidelines so your investment is protected
  • Services costs are lower which allows users to save money or fund higher value, higher return engagements such as business process consulting (as compared to coding and debugging work)

While many businesses may still desire customizations that require programming, codeless configuration helps keep such instances to a minimum by directly supporting the most common changes.


See it for yourself

If you’d like to take a closer look at the power of codeless configuration, HP Service Anywhere has an online instance (shared trial sandbox), where you can see how we implemented codeless configuration in the service desk environment.  To access that instance and try codeless configuration first hand, simply register for credentials (it’s easy, fast and hassle free) to receive login instructions so you can do a test drive using our demo data.


I would love to hear your impressions on codeless configuration and our approach in HP Service Anywhere, feel free to share them in the comments section below. Also feel free to share any of your upgrade horror stories where the root cause was scripting!


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About the Author


Mary (@maryrasmussen_) is the worldwide product marketing manager for HP Software Education. She has 20+ years of product marketing, product management, and channel/alliances experience. Mary joined HP in 2010 from an early-stage SaaS company providing hosted messaging and mobility services. Mary has a BS in Computer Science and a MBA in Marketing.

Martyn Birchall
on ‎04-12-2013 08:42 AM

Excellent article. You touch upon supportability when coding is used but this can be quite a problem. As vendors do not write the code it can be difficult to evaluate where problems are occurring in systems with heavy use of code. Time is spent evaluating if it is "the product" or the "script" and then who is responsible for the fix. It is all far less likely to go wrong with codeless configuration.

on ‎04-12-2013 12:35 PM

Mary, any comments on the "its so easy, do it yourself" side of this? I submit that codeless configuration absolutely simplifies a number of things, but that you still need to have solid processes. You briefly touch on this, but I am thinking of how change management would get rolled out in a larger organization for example. Anyhow, all sorts of phrases come to mind, garbage in, garbage out being one. Also, any quick comments on where configuring ITSM processes stops and being a platform starts.


I know that these are big topics. But, these general areas seem to regularly come up when discussing codeless configuration approaches - especially when layered on top of SaaS.


Lastly, any advice for how to get started trying out codeless configuration on Service Anywhere? Any of the youtube videos especially useful? What about the connections/support forum?



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