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Service Desk 7.5 Update

Created: 12 Apr 2012 • Updated: 12 Apr 2012 | 66 comments

We just got a PowerPoint from Symantec informing us of the update coming later this year and it's now been confirmed that the ServiceDesk workflows will now be restricted and customers will no longer be able to customize them. This is a huge impact to us as we've customized Service Desk to work in our environment and the out of the box ServiceDesk install is frankly not very good as it's missing a lot of things we need.

We're on ServiceDesk SP1 so we already knew we had to create new servers since an official upgrade path for SP2 doesn't exist but this news may make us consider ditching the product all together. We know that ServiceDesk out of the box install does not meet our requirements in our company and I can't really see 7.5 filling the gaps so maybe we'll just stick with 7.1 for it's product lifetime. I'm disappointed that they chose this route and I understand why they did but they should really let the customer decide how we want to use the product so if we want to customize it then let us do so.

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Joshua Brown's picture

Thanks for the info.  I completely agree.  In my opinion the best feature of ServiceDesk is the ability to customize the workflows.  We have made a ton of changes as well - a lot of bug fixes, but quite a few changes to make the product meet our needs.  If they take away this ability, I'm sure we'll switch to a different product as well.

Aryanos's picture

If they gave us the option and said "If you make customizations to the workflows then we will not offer support" then we, as customers can make that decision. For them to take away the one thing that makes ServiceDesk unique and what they promoted when selling ServiceDesk shows poor judgement on their part. Give us the choice to do it or don't do it is all I'm asking for. Sorry if I seem upset but I am.

I like my beats fast and my bass down low

WK01's picture

Very dissappointing.. just got done with Workflow Training for use with ServiceDesk.  $3500 later they decide to take away customizations.  Feels like that was a waste of time and money.

willlewis's picture

All,

More specific information regarding 7.5 will be available over the coming weeks. Also, I will be presenting a much deeper dive of our new strategy and upcoming features at Vision next month.

There are a couple of key objectives for this release:

1.)Upgrade Path.  Because we currently expose all ServiceDesk processes, customers who customize these processes are presented with various challenges during upgrades.  7.5 will introduce an in-place upgrade path that will preserve all configurations and data and eliminate the need for additional hardware.

2.)Configuration. The Rules Engine was introduced in the 7.1 release, although it was limited in that it only covered a handful of use cases for Incident Management. In 7.1 SP2, we extended the Rules Engine to include complete configuration for the new Change Management process, as well as the introduction of email notification rules and templates. 

In 7.5, we will be restricting access to the workflow package files that are delivered with ServiceDesk. Before we felt comfortable doing this, though, we spoke with dozens and dozens of customers about their use cases, and analyzed how they were customizing these flows to accommodate these use cases.  As a result, we will be significantly expanding the rule sets available within the Rules Engine to include many more rules for Incident Management as well as Problem Management.  These new rules are based on direct feedback from customers as well as general best practices.

While we feel very confident that the majority of use cases are covered, we are very interested in your ongoing feedback to help us continue to evolve this.

That's the process side. We also know that most customers edit the included feeder forms to some extent, and we certainly do not want to remove that flexibility.  Going forward, we will continue to allow you to edit the feeder forms and add custom data types.  Also, some integrated process such as SD Email Monitor will continue to remain exposed, as we know customers have unique requirements regarding how incoming emails are processed.

Furthermore, we will continue to allow you to edit all ServiceDesk portal (Process Manager) elements, including reports, dashboards, custom process view page views, etc.  And, probably most importantly, we will continue to allow you to build supplemental workflows using the Workflow Designer tool. 

3.) Performance. For those of you who have tried out the new Change Management process, you've probably noticed that it is lightning fast.  Any action performed is immediately executed.  We are planning to apply the "lessons learned" in this redesign to Incident Management.  I've seen some early code, and I must say that it's pretty impressive.

 

In summary, I understand and can appreciate your comments above.  But, I also believe we will achieve the right balance of configuration capabilities, performance and upgradeability in the 7.5 release. 

I hope to see you at Vision.  Your emails are always welcome as well.

Regards,

Will Lewis

Sr. Product Manager, ServiceDesk

will_lewis@symantec.com

 

Aryanos's picture

That's the process side. We also know that most customers edit the included feeder forms to some extent, and we certainly do not want to remove that flexibility.  Going forward, we will continue to allow you to edit the feeder forms and add custom data types.  Also, some integrated process such as SD Email Monitor will continue to remain exposed, as we know customers have unique requirements regarding how incoming emails are processed.

If my understanding is correct from this statement then what you're saying is that SD.Data.Integration will still be made available to us. Let's say for example I add a field to the ServiceDeskIncident datatype called UnitNumber (int) because I want to track the unit number of any computer equipment that is an incident might be associated with and we do not use the Asset Managment module.

I can put this field on the forms because they'll still be exposed to us which is fine but what if users have to go in and change it due to it being the incorrect value? Without having access to the SD.IncidentManagement workflow I can't just add a field to the Reclassify form. How would I do something simple like this to allow users to change the value of the unit number when working an incident?

This is just one use case and while I appreciate that some things are still going to be left open for us to customize, not being able to access SD.IncidentManagement severly limits what we can do.

I like my beats fast and my bass down low

Torvic87's picture

About this situation.

We have alot of costumers in latin america and we modify the incident management project because they want to have the processes like 'Resolved Incident' in spanish.

I would like to know if you will improve the translation to spanish in actions like 'Resolve Incident'; 'Create SubTasks' etc. 

Actually we need to enter to incident managemet project and chance the descriptions to spanish.

Regards

Aryanos's picture

Thanks for replying Will and I understand what you and your team are trying to do. Service Desk upgrades has always been a touchy subject because we have the ability to customize the workflows. But with hearing about no upgrade path for SP1 to SP2 and now this, it makes the product which suffered poor performance issues when it was released and finally became stable IMO with SP1 harder to support.

I agree with you that things should configured in the console and the Rules Engine is a good start along with the email templates. This will make things a lot easier for people to adminstrate Service Desk but what I don't agree with is not being able to customize the Incident Management and other processes. Unless you are totally revamping the Incident Management workflow and the ones that accompany it then it won't fit the needs of our company and I'm sure the needs of others.

There are a lot of things in Service Desk that are designed poorly that users like me have to go in and fix. Spelling mistakes, hard coded values, incorrect programming logic, odd design choices are just some of the things that I had to go in and fix.

For example, why doesn't the email monitoring notify the worker and append any documents when a reply is sent back? Why is it when I select a group to email it uses the emails of everyone in the group instead of the group email? Why is it when I reclassify an incident it has to to send out an email to me? Why is there a need to have a separate task to change the title and description when it should all be done in the reclassify task?

It's all the little things that because we have the ability to go in and customize make the user experience better than the out of the box install. Anyone that has used the product can see what works and what doesn't because the things that don't work are obvious. If you're going to lock down the workflows then I hope you give the users more options in the console. For example, we like to have our resolve task time out in 2 days so if we can't do that in the workflow anymore then give us that option to do it in the settings.

I'm sorry for the long winded rant and I know I'm just one person in one company but it seems like it's one thing after another with this product. I'm looking forward to Vision and seeing what your team has lined up but as a costumerI can't take anymore of these unexpected surprises that seem to always pop up. 

I like my beats fast and my bass down low

skiierj's picture

I was physically sick to my stomach when I heard about SD 7.5. I was told that it was not an in place upgrade but a reinstall just like we had to do with 7.1 sp1 to sp2. This after we were told we wouldn't have to do that again.

I have also made significant changes to SD to make it work in our environment  and am a team of one for this product.

A few of the changes I have had to make are assignments list in the SD.Feeder.TechnicianIncidentForms. Another is changing the close the ticket process by taking out the users has to resolve it before it closes because my user would have refused to do it and it changed the report numbers for helpdesk for tickets closed in a day. We also had to purchase an addition search add on because there is no real search function in SD.

Will this new version address the screen refresh issues with IE? I also have the need when a urgent priority gets put in to be able to send a text/page to a group but there is only one e-mail address associated to a group.

 

Aryanos's picture

I truly believe that that there needs to be an internal use case study done for ServiceDesk by Symantec on how not to please customers. I mean when it came out it was promoted as a product you can tailor customize for your environment as one of it's biggest selling points. The 7.0 versions were plagued with performance and stability issues and this seems to have been resolved with the 7.1 release.

Then they release SP2 which requires a new install and no upgrade path for SP1 costumers. People still do the upgrade despite needing new servers and transfer their customized workflows over to it. Then word comes out that 7.5 won't even allow you to customize the main processes. I imagine if Symantec put ServiceDesk in their own company this stuff wouldn't sit too well so why make your customers do it?

 

I like my beats fast and my bass down low

WK01's picture

We were sold on the product for the ability to customize ServiceDesk.  Our sales representatives pushed this product as the answer to our needs.  We invested in partner services for the installation and configuration as well as Workflow training with Symantec.  It sounds like everything we planned as a company will need to be cancelled.  We will need to answer to our management team who funded the purchasing of this product as to why we won't be able to fullfill the plans.

jpellet2's picture

I am with all of you on how upset I am with the upgrade vs. non-upgrade issue and the revealing that the main processes won't be editable by the customer but I can also see where upgrades without such a lock down are near impossible based on how workflow is designed. I can't even believe I am saying this but we probably should reserve judgement until we've seen the product. I will be at Vision next month and certainly hope to drill as many questions towards the Symantec engineers as possible.

That being said, there are issues with the current SD.IncidentManagement that probably should be resolved in some way with having access to the settings in the portal being the best. Permissions settings and who can edit what and how should be more granular and be set through the portal. Email components should be pulled out and run independently so that they can be modified (it would be nice to alter a thank you without having to republish the entire main process!), having the quick close option be exposed or something similar and the ability to email everyone in a group, if they desire, when a ticket gets assigned. There are a lot more items, some big, some small but all edits that are made to help the software fit the organization rather than make the organization fit the software.

I don't expect them all to be answered but I certainly will take Will up on his offer and email him all of the settings that we have changed now (solely in SD.IncidentManagement as the feeder forms and email process will remain exposed) to make the system work for us and see what can be done, if anything for the 7.5 release or the future.

skiierj's picture

I will not be going to Vision but I would love to get a run down of what you learned about SD 7.5 when you return.

Thanks

Jen

Aryanos's picture

I wouldn't have an issue if the processes were designed properly with what most of us need. I think when a Service Desk product is missing something basic like a drop-down to change the status of an incident or allow us to create templates for sub-tasks but then don't provide a way to delete them unless you go into the database is very telling that some things have been implemented poorly.

Since they're locking the processes down we have to assume that they're going to catch all these little things that we caught and fix them but some of these nagging things have been around for years. I have a running list of things we needed to change for Service Desk to work for us (150+ items so far) and I still would like them to give us the choice to choose whether or not we are able to customize the workflows. Maybe Service Desk wasn't the right choice for us but we're stuck with it for the time being.

I like my beats fast and my bass down low

Aryanos's picture

With Vision next week, I hope the ServiceDesk developers will be upfront with all the changes they are planning especially with the lock down of the workflows. A full list of all the hopeful fixes (refresh, permissions, stability, performance, etc) would be a good start. There seems to be a lot of uncertainty with this product IMO and hopefully Will and his team can assure us that this route they've chosen is for the best. If not then our company will have to look elsewhere for our ServiceDesk needs.

I like my beats fast and my bass down low

jpellet2's picture

I am with you on that one. Fortunately I will be attending with a co-worker so I will be drilling anyone I can for information. Let's cross our fingers!

Aryanos's picture

The refresh issue is the worst and needs to be fixed in this update. Our workers are complaining that they can't even leave the Send Email windows up for a long time as it just times out. You can imagine if you're  typing up a 10 minute email only to lose it because of the refresh it can get frustrating. Basically you have 5 minutes to type an email or else it's lost. I can't believe that this hasn't been fixed yet.

I like my beats fast and my bass down low

Jamie Brown's picture

Which refresh issue this?   I am having one where the tech types a ticket out...works on the ticket for 30 minutes... then when they click on save or resolve...   it throws up an error like it timed out.   Same thing or is this another refresh error?

Aryanos's picture

I think it's the same refresh issue because it refreshes in the background when the virtual window is open and then it just times out. It's similar to an IIS reset when you have a window up and do an IIS reset and it cuts off the connection.

Error Details  

Error Message: 
The session id 5Cw3R5uDLES2UkeAn6f_Sg is not valid or the session has timed out 
 
Message Stack:
at LogicBase.Core.Models.Dialog.DialogSession.Load(String sessionId) 
at LogicBase.Core.Models.Dialog.ComposerForm.OnPreInit(EventArgs e) 
at System.Web.UI.Page.PerformPreInit() 
at System.Web.UI.Page.ProcessRequestMain(Boolean includeStagesBeforeAsyncPoint, Boolean includeStagesAfterAsyncPoint)
 
Close  

I like my beats fast and my bass down low

skiierj's picture

This is a huge issues with my techs. They have learned in helpdesk that if you type up a long ticket to copy paste before you save but with SD it think it is even worse since you’re not sure when it will refresh.

Aryanos's picture

I honestly don't know how this got past QA because if they actually tested it they would know that this is a major issue. If there was an option to open the links in a new windows browser instead of the javascript one it would be a non-issue. I get so many questions everyday why this is happening and all I can really do is apologize.

I like my beats fast and my bass down low

Jamie Brown's picture

Ack!

And the answer I am afraid to get back is that they have a nice rollup fix.   They have one for the dashboard tab that was broke when I had the last rollup.  

Sorry to harp on the rollup but that put me in to a major bind. 

Aryanos's picture

You should see the look on their faces when I tell them they have to write an email in 5 minutes or less or else it won't work. They give me the "Are you serious face?" and I am dead serious. Guess I can tell them to open up Word or Notepad and write it in there, then copy and paste it into the email but then I'm afraid of getting punched in the face.

We have to install the SP1 Rollup to fix the SQLtransaction.ZombieCheck() issue and I'm scared what that might break.

I like my beats fast and my bass down low

Jamie Brown's picture

Can a Symantec employee who is looking at the forums please reply on this topic?   I am going to put a ticket in tomorrow but if we have multiple admins with the same issue...   Would be nice if someone can step in on this.   This is a major issue. 

Jamie Brown's picture

I have the answer back from tech support.   They said it is because of IIS refresh time.   So if your IIS is set for the 20 minute refresh time, then they have 20 minutes to get it going.  If you extend the timeout, you risk tasking the server.

<shrugs>

jrivard's picture

You can increase this timeout value in your IIS configuration for the project that needs the additional time.

Aryanos's picture

Please Please Please remove the next task countdown in the update because that thing is useless and annoying. I don't think anyone has ever asked for that feature.

I like my beats fast and my bass down low

Jamie Brown's picture

Hey, that could use a countdown in the tech feeder form in a new ticket.  Then when the tech is typing a ticket, they know how much time they have before the ticket is in a stale session.

Aryanos's picture

I know you're joking but I would actually take that idea since it would let users know how much time they have before it times out. Just anything would be better than what we have now.

I like my beats fast and my bass down low

Jamie Brown's picture

Actually it was initially a smart aleck comment but then I thought about it and went... hmm...  it might be a valid request.

TGiles's picture

The next task functionality is actually a function of Workflow. This has been removed in the 7.1 SP 2 release.

Aryanos's picture

I have some news regarding the 7.5 update if anyone is interested. Some good and some bad

I like my beats fast and my bass down low

WK01's picture

Yes, I am very interested.  Please do share it.

jmankin's picture

I'm very interested in the 7.5 changes. We also customized the SD.Incidementmanagement to fit our company needs.

Jamie Brown's picture

I am hoping they took my suggestion that we can change the lexicon strings to something fun like "talk like a pirate" or the Swedish Chef...   "Bork Bork Bork...  task assigned.. bork bork bork"

So, when we have ideas...   do we want to start putting thumbs up on them?   Maybe a a way we can say "we support that one?" 

 

jpellet2's picture

From Vision last week I can tell you that SD.IncidentManagement will not be editable, as well as ChangeManagement and ProblemManagement for that matter. The routing has been greatly improved inside of ProcessManager console to include boolean AND and OR as well as multi-level functionality (such as send email and route, etc.).  The speed has been increased for IM and things such as re-assignment happen near instantly. From the little I saw and was able to ask about email templates also seem to be in the console as well. I can say, becasue I asked, that there is no change in the access using mobile devices which I am greatly disappointed about and I did put in a request to at least allow smartphones access to the entire portal so they can use the native webpage rather than be redirected to a mobile page but we'll see how far that gets. I will review my notes and if there's more that I missed I will post it. Hopefully Aryanos has even more information to add and if I am incorrect on some of this info please, someone, correct me. It was a long week and my notes might have been miss-written.

Jamie Brown's picture

Thank you for the update.   They mention anything about putting a beta out there so we can give some suggestions or ideas?

jpellet2's picture

No word of a beta at all so we may be out of luck on that one!

jrivard's picture

That's good news.  The overall designed of the reassigment process in 7.1 SP1 is causing head aches for our support staff.  They are use to the speed of HD 6.5.  I can see why reassignments are slow in 7.1 from the workflow designs.  Writing the ticket to exchange from the "Reassign Smart Task" then passing a Exchange Message ID to SD.IncidentEscalate to update the reassignment in exchange and flag is for SD.IncidentManagement event listener to perform the actual task creation and assignment and email notification.   

 

The only wish I have to Symantec is please please allow for a in place Database upgrade rather than staging another.  People will be hating me if I have three tickets systems going (HD 6.5, SD 7.1, and SD 7.5).

 

-Jordan

Jamie Brown's picture

When I asked them that question about the upgrades, they said it would have to be another instance.   But because they are locking down more of the system, it will make upgrades easier after 7.5.   

Aryanos's picture

I'll try to post what I saw at the Vision conference later today but I'm dealing with deadlocks in our database which is causing headaches at the moment :/

I like my beats fast and my bass down low

jrivard's picture

I still get those too after the SD 7.1 SP1 Rollup.  On a typical day I recieve about 1 or 2 that I need to resubmit the process.  You could alter the error handling in the SD.IncidentManagement workflow to resubmit to process automatically as a retry.

Jamie Brown's picture

What are these deadlocks?   <knock on wood> I have had many many other issues... I just would love to see what is around the corner. 

jrivard's picture

Deads locks are when seperate processes try to request the same information at the same time from SQL server.  SQL server then has to decide which process to give it's "attention" to and return the data.  In the mean time, the process that was ignored rolls itself back to a previous state.  ServiceDesk reports this in it's log files as "SQLtransaction.ZombieCheck() issue".

 

-Jordan

 

 

Jamie Brown's picture

Thank you.   This is month two for us with the product live and I only have 50% of the user community on it right now.  

I was hoping those kind of locks were done with Altiris 6 Help Desk.

jrivard's picture

The SQL dead locks I recieve are from <wait for it> ticket reassignments.  The SD 7.1 SP1 rollup did eliminate many of the deadlock I used to get.  Currently, I am rewriting the reassignment smart task to be immediate.   Hopefull this will solve the deadlock issue.

Kevin Shilling's picture

We have yet to go live.  Is there a date for 7.5? 

jpellet2's picture

There is no hard date. At Vision it was being mentioned sometime early fall may be the timeframe to look for it. At this point all we can do is cross our fingers that it will come out soon enough for some of us but also fix a lot of the outstanding issues.

It was also recommended to some of use that if you haven't gone live yet, if you can, hold off. This is primarily due to the lack of an upgrade path to 7.5. The same went for those of us on SP1, do not upgrade to 7.2 unless you need Change Management because then you will be doing 2 migrations in a very short span of time.

Kevin Shilling's picture

How sure is this?  In 2008 when we were setting up helpdesk we were told by our consultant we shouldn't customize too much because 7.0 was coming in a few months and it is much easier to customize. 

jpellet2's picture

I can't really say. What I can say is that the entire ITMS Suite is getting a bump to 7.5 this fall and its something that they are really pushing for so I would think that they will do everything that they can to release it "on time". Again, you never can tell though. It might be worth a conversation with your rep to see if they have any more insight than we do.

Jamie Brown's picture

The "on time" part is the concern for me.   They released SP2 items that does not work and I am not sure if they didn't get a chance t test it because it was near a deadline.

Aryanos's picture

Sorry for the late update but here are some of the things regarding the SD 7.5 update from Vision:

  • No upgrade path from SP1 or SP2 and 7.5 will be the base for all future upgrades
  • As mentioned the Incident, Change and Problem workflow will be locked down
  • Faster, stabiler, and reassignments and report updates are almost instant
  • You can do most of the incident actions on one screen (edit incident details, reassignments, reclassify) instead of multiple smart tasks
  • When a ticket is directly assigned to a worker, there is an assigned queue that can be set so the group permissions are set on the ticket. A default queue will be set for incidents without tasks so there will no longer be orphaned tickets. Not really sure how this works or if I may have misinterpreted it
  • More robust rules engine to cover most user cases out there
  • Direct control of SLA's through the portal and multiple SLA's can be set per group/individual
  • Incident Management workflow has been slimmed down and more efficient and smaller footprint in the database space used up
  • Some reports will removed. No changes to the reporting piece
  • No new web parts planned
  • Smarter installer so you can choose which workflows get upgraded when you do an update
  • Incident Management process view is now similar to the Change Management process view
  • More options to set/configure things will be put in the portal and not in the workflows
  • Email/Feeder forms will still be accessible for modificiations
  • Import/Export of categories for easier management. You can export the categories to Excel, make your changes and then import them back in
  • Removal of confirmation screens so there is less forms to click through
  • Subtasks will now automatically close if the main incident is closed
  • Refresh issue fixed???
  • No news of a beta

I think that is all of it from what I remember and Symantec is aware of all the negative feedback of the product and is working hard to fix it. Most of the team that worked on the initial versions of ServiceDesk left so those who came in after had to inherit all the issues with it. 

My only concern is that they are basically resetting everything back to a Version 1 product with the 7.5 update so there will probably be a lot of issues when it is released.

I like my beats fast and my bass down low

Jamie Brown's picture

Thank you for the update!

 

I just wish they would put some calories in to reporting.   This is a huge pain point.   If we cannot control and "AND" and "OR"s at least, then we are pulling reports from SQL and lose the flexibility the GUI should afford the users.

jpellet2's picture

While I certainly agree with you, I would bet that their answer to this is IT Analytics. We don't use it and probably won't be able to due to our infrastructure so it does make things extremely difficult, especially when you build a report with the same selected options but added in a different order, you never know what you're going to get!

Kevin Shilling's picture

Any more news?   Its a little hard to tell people we are better off waiting for next version when the information is so sparse.

jpellet2's picture

Nothing new since Vision but I can tell you this, if you don't want to have to physically build new servers and a completely new database, waiting really is the best option. It shouldn't be too long now, hopefully September-October but we can cross our fingers that it will be sooner.

Aryanos's picture

When it comes out we're going to have three active systems (Altiris Helpdesk, SD 7.1 and SD 7.5) which is going to be a nightmare to manage. We've only put 12,000 + tickets into SD 7.1 so far but those will still need to be worked  and archived. Really not looking forward to it all.

I like my beats fast and my bass down low

jrivard's picture

Unfortunately, everyone is in the same boat with this and going with three systems (HD, SD 7.1, SD 7.5)running side by side is a nightmare thought for us too.  Unless our asset/deployment team has a need for new workflow components that may be in SD 7.5 to interface with their system and future plans for SMP 7.5, we will be staying on SD 7.1 SP1 as long as possible.  It seems very stable at this point after many roll up versions being applied and numerous workflow design flaws fixed.

Jamie Brown's picture

He is a request...  IE 9 support and maybe IE 10 when it comes out without have to go back and forth with Symantec... and hotfixes.

Oh, while we are on hotfix rollups...   any word on how this is going to be handled?  

toomas's picture

I do believe we officially list IE9 as something we test the Portal on for ServiceDesk 7.5 (at least right now, based on beta). The portal is designed to be browser independent so chances are IE10 will work fine.

If you mean the Symantec Management Platform, I am honestly not sure what the supported browsers will be.

If you are currently on Workflow 7.0 SP4, 7.1 SP1 or 7.1 SP2 Rollup, it does not differ in any way from the same versions without rollups.

avl's picture

*sigh* so typical Symantec to come up with a product that was supposedly 'cool' and then screw up the whole damn thing up to the point where everyone is starting to ditch the solution, only to have it 'fixed' at the point where everyone is starting to look somewhere else. when are they going to learn to design and release properly?

Nick at Sparrow's picture

Any updates on beta code or other information?  I did see a video where on the process view page they had comments split out from the rest of the history which will be nice...

toomas's picture

Comments will be in a separate web part on the process view page. Or actually, the same Process History web part with different filter settings :)

Kevin Shilling's picture

My local area altiris group did not have enough guests to meet so i missed the "Altiris 7.5 Roadmap presentation" has anyone seen it?