Interview: Bojan Vladisavljevic about the perks of working with BMC software

About the perks of working with BMC software and solving complex IT problems to tackle business challenges in service management, we talked to Bojan Vladisavljevic, a System Engineer in Seavus’s Managed Services division.

He describes his everyday tasks and the challenges that come along them, as well as how he continuously pushes the boundaries when crafting custom solutions for the clients he works for.

How did you find yourself in your career path?

As a student of the School of Electrical Engineering, I started working for Telecom Company almost immediately after I graduated. My first project was actually the one that defined my career path, since I was assigned to support a fresh sourced ITSM solution – BMC Remedy. After a few months and quite a few challenges for a newbie, I was sure that I found my calling as BMC Remedy developer and I have been working with BMC software ever since.

How was the situation with BMC at that time? What has changed since then?

At that time, BMC was the leading company for ITSM solutions and Remedy was their main product. Since then, many other vendors tried to catch up with them, but BMC is still at the top as they are very good at what they do. They are always expanding their range of solutions and setting trends in the industry, which enables us to always have the latest and up to date functionalities to offer our clients.

Could you tell me more about the BMC products? Which product is your main focus?

Even though I am certified for multitude of BMC products, Remedy remains my main focus of interest and development. It is a product that is very versatile and allows for great degree of customizations. This qualities make it ideal for corporate environment, where it is used by IT and business users alike. The clients I work with often have very specific and challenging demands for customization and integration that push the boundaries of the intended functionality. Such approach, where the customization goes beyond what the vendor has intended, has me continuously studying and adapting, so that I can stay on top of the challenges. Therefore, depending on the situation, I occasionally switch my roles in a heartbeat and work as a database expert, administrator, developer and QA. Having an open-minded approach and persistence have always led me to the great solutions, which I couldn’t even dream of when I first started this career.

What does your typical workday look like?

Day to day work can hardly be described as ‘grind’. Tasks usually take me outside of the software domain to complete them or find optimal solutions. Sometimes I am neck-deep in logs, other times I am deconstructing SQL queries, analyzing Java Script and CSS code, or analyzing network connectivity between servers, writing custom scripts, debugging web service issues and anything else that comes my way. Since BMC is very flexible for integration and interaction, as time goes by, the number of customizations increases and so does my knowledge of the various systems.

Describe an important project you have worked on recently.

Occasionally I feel like as soon as I am done with a certain project, I move on to the next and, while I don’t play favorites, I quite enjoyed the recent project I worked on. I was tasked with redesigning the network team custom overview console. The console was designed a decade ago and, as such, currently suffers from many shortcomings. It was designed with small screens in mind and with rudimental design in order to optimize presenting information on low-end machines that were standard at the time.

Funny enough we got requests from time to time to expand the interface a bit, when the bigger screens would become new company’s standards. It wasn’t ideal and I was tasked with finding a more convenient and permanent solution.

The central point of the console are the two tables that hold all the relevant information. They have more than fifty columns that can’t even come into view, since the width is fixed, so operators often have to juggle them in order to see the relevant information. Hence, my main goal was to make them as wide as possible. The second goal was to reduce the number of buttons and checkboxes that amassed over the years and make a minimalist design that would match the Smart IT that was developed by BMC from scratch to replace the old Remedy interface.

Couple of weeks later, after some tweaking in the development environment, CSS code and feedback from the operators, I managed to make the following console, which has the same functionality as the old one.

The tables now expand with the page so they can cover any screen size, from small tablets, up to ultra wide 4k screens. The number of columns they can display, now entirely depends on the screen used.

The buttons that were piled up before are now neatly packed bellow the corresponding tables.

Instead of checkboxes that filtered the entries, new filters are now located in the two rows at the top of the table, where they make more sense. By clicking them they switch between active and inactive row.

I felt that classic table counters are out of date, so I removed them and in their stead created custom ones on the top right so they are more informative and dynamically change values based on the selected filters.

Finally, I moved all of the links to the top right drop-down menu and added some addition functionalities that were needed.

This project taught me a lot about the inner workings of Remedy and how it generates a page from development environment and presents it in the browser, as well as how to mold it by using CSS classes to target specific elements on it.

The new console is a great success. Apart from being an enormous improvement in design and functionality, it opened a door to new opportunities for other redesign projects, since I managed to accomplish something where even the vendor had to resort to creating application from scratch.