Presentation on theme: "Distributed User Support and the Gemini Observatory HelpDesk"— Presentation transcript:
1 Distributed User Support and the Gemini Observatory HelpDesk Simon Chan and Phil PuxleySPIEMarch 2000
2 Overview Gemini user support model and rationale for the HelpDesk Division of responsibilitiesDesirable features of a HelpDeskImplementation modelHelpDesk tiers and structureRemedy AR systemWorkflowLife cycle of a requestKnowledgebaseMetrics and user support performance
3 Shared Support Operational context: Gemini Observatory operates two geographically separated 8m-telescopes (Hawaii and Chile)Gemini partnership includes nine user groups:7 partner countries (US, UK, Can., Chile, Aus., Arg., Bra.)University of HawaiiGemini staffEach partner country has established a National Gemini Office (NGO) to support facility development and usersPrincipal issue recognised was that NGOs would not have adequate staffing to cover all areas of expertise and Gemini staff could be overwhelmed by large volume of queries
4 Distributed User Support Responsibilities Gemini ObservatoryNational Gemini OfficesObservation execution and on-site supportIncluding Contact Scientists assigned to each classical or queue programExpert support for user queriesDistribute to support network as necessaryBefore and after observationsFirst point of contact for user queriesDistribute to support network as necessary
5 Challenges for Distributed Support Model Open access and fairness to all potential users of GeminiEfficient and reliable distribution of queries to designated responsible staff and of responses to usersAny metric must recognize time zone dependencyAccountability to funding authoritiesStaff trainingCommunications bandwidthImplementation and infrastructure maintenance
6 HelpDesk Solution to User Support Leverage commercial “help desk” (a.k.a. knowledge database) technology.Undergoing major investment in software, electronic hardware and service industries.Evolutionary step forward from static web page solutions to “problem and knowledge management”:“goal is the control and reduction of calls per person”Provides call management...“the ability to accurately and effectively log, track, hold, forward and escalate calls as necessary, preventing any call from being lost or forgotten”...and problem resolution tools:“the timely discovery of an accurate solution to a help desk problem”(PHD White Paper)
7 Desirable Elements of a Help Desk : I (NB: all are featured in existing commercial help desk products)User-friendly web GUIEasy user accessFilter and route queries to designated support individuals“Send all GMOS queries to person X in country Y”Accounting and analysis toolsAssist management of user support, generate usage reports, efficiency metrics etc.“How many queries about GMOS gratings?”Feedback for updating static web information
8 Desirable Elements of a Help Desk : II Audit tracking and historyTrack changes to database information; identify who answered a specific questionIntegrate existing web-based documentationComplement to primary information resourceIntelligent language interface, options include:Natural language queries“What is the best GMOS grating for Ha?”Expert or rule-based systemsEfficiently moves through stored set of rulesFuzzy logicGuesstimates a solution when no exact match can be found
9 Desirable Elements of a Help Desk : III Experience-based learningResolved problems stored in the database and available to future queries…the system learns!Distributed read and write access to databaseSupport staff located at NGOs (and in some instances more widely)Simultaneous access by multiple users and scalable.Peak access around telescope application deadlinesMultimedia capabilitiesUse video files, sounds and pictures to make complex issues clearer
10 User Support Model and the 3-Tier HelpDesk User self-supportAim for majority of queries to be addressed by  use of ‘static’ web info or  Help Desk solutions database (via search engines)Those that can’t are handled by the  HelpDeskTier 1: Front-end supportNGO staff field requests for information from their own communityQueries that cannot be answered are escalated to Tier 2 supportTier 2: NGO-designated experts and Gemini staffRespond to queries from entire communityQueries that cannot be answered are escalated to Tier 3 supportTier 3: Gemini staff
11 Tier-2 Tier-3 Tier-1 local NGO Remedy AR system puzzleduserlocalNGOphone/webinterfaceRemedy AR systemhelp desk interface s/wsolution found automaticallyfrom existing database informationno solution found- route to NGOTier-2another NGOTier-1localNGOTier-3resolutionGeminienlighteneduserrequest resolvedand enteredin database
12 HelpDesk StructureQueries are categorised into three broad subject areas:InstrumentationTelescope performance and capabilitiesProposal and observing processSubjects are sub-divided further:
13 Helpdesk Responsibilities Each NGO has assigned support staff personnel to each subject sub-category in Tier-1 look-up tableIncludes other staff to be notifiedNGOs with community-wide responsibility and Gemini have assigned support staff in Tier-2 tableGenerally, partners that are providing the instrument or facility provide tier-2 supportGemini provides tier-2 support for visiting instruments, telescope capabilities and observing processGemini has assigned support staff in Tier-3 table.
14 Remedy AR SystemRemedy Action Request system selected for Gemini HelpDeskVery robust and flexible toolbox of HelpDesk components that is readily customisedPossesses many of the features of a desirable systemHas a large share of commercial marketDeployed elsewhere in astronomical community (Keck, STScI, ESO) for various functionsUsed for internal Gemini Fault Reporting System
15 Implementation of Remedy AR System remote users &support staff (anymodern browser)user interfaceserverAR system hostedat Gemini Northqueries andknowledgebase
17 Helpdesk Workflow Design Tier-1, -2 and -3escalationNewAssignedWorkin progressResolvedClosedRequestor logs on to helpdesk (or registers if a new user).Request is routed to their local NGO using Tier-1 table.Staff member is ed that a request has been assigned to them; uses web tool to resolve.Support staff member can escalate the request (using Tier-2 or -3 table) to the responsible individual (within an NGO or Gemini).Requestor can check status on web and is ed on each action or resolution.Resolution is copied to previously-assigned staff in lower tiers.
18 KnowledgebaseThe knowledgebase (a.k.a. solutions database) is a self-help databaseProvides a searchable repository of solutions to common requests2nd stage in user-support modelIt’s purpose is to reduce the number of similar requests being submitted to the HelpDeskEntries in the knowledgebase are derived from existing HelpDesk requestsCurrently a simple free-text search engine is used with the knowledgebaseSearch by sub-category or keywords
20 Help Desk MetricsRemedy system time-stamps status changes corresponding to key events:Submission of request, assignment to responsible individual, changes to work-in-progress log, resolution of the request, closureSystem also records:User contact details, assigned group, subject category etcThese data provide feedback for ‘static’ web pagesUpdate / improve existing primary information
21 Example User Support Performance Metrics The system data can be analysed in a multitude of ways; some examples:Measurement of load and balance:Number of requests received per NGOper subject category, per country of origin etc.Number of requests escalated (e.g. to Gemini)Measurement of performance:Number (fraction) of responses and response timeMeasurement of fairness:Distribution of response timesby country of origin, by subject category etc.
22 Integrated User Support web user interface‘static’ webinfofeedback improvementsknowledgebasepopulatesHelpDesk
23 Integrated User Support web user interface‘static’ webinfofeedback improvementsknowledgebasepopulatesHelpDesk