Help for the Help Desk: NetSupport TCO, NetSupport Help Desk
Keep track of support requests with one of these packages.
I was primarily interested in NetSupport Help Desk for this roundup but
after looking at the entire set of offerings in NetSupport TCO and NetSupport
Help Desk, it was apparent that Help Desk was an additional application
to be used with TCO. In today's corporate landscape spanning thousands
of machines, help desk applications can be utilized entirely by enterprise
customers for internal use. The tools that come with NetSupport TCO make
this a very powerful solution for the help desk engineers because they
have access to very specific information about users and their systems.
NetSupport TCO/NetSupport Help Desk has some handy features, such as
software and hardware auditing, Web metering and license management, NetSupport
maps the entire network and stores the results in a SQL Server database.
I mention the database now because I was very impressed with the installation
program's ability to install and add my TCO database in one fell swoop.
I installed the database, then loaded NetSupport TCO's client application
and was able to add in my server and workstation systems on the 192.168.X.X
subnet (my internal network).
The Help Desk Web application uses PHP and requires manually configuring
IIS to use PHP.exe, which is loaded with the Web installation. The process
wasn't well documented, and I found it odd that the instructions explained
how to set up the entire default Web site under IIS as the Help Desk Web
site. Once I had the Help Desk Web set up, though, it was easy to log
into and navigate.
I could tell immediately that NetSupport Help Desk was limited in features.
The main goal with Help Desk, I felt, was to get the incident in and worked
on. Of course there is absolutely nothing wrong with that goal, and for
what it does, NetSupport Help Desk does very well and the Web interface
is pleasing visually and functionally. There are standard reports, and
the problem and solution areas are customizable as far as the categories
into which incidents might fall, such as hardware or software. One nice
feature that I haven't seen in other packages is the Electronic Bulletin
Board. This is nothing more than a tote board of current incidents and
their status but it is displayed in real-time. As I added incidents to
my installation, I switched back and forth to watch the board. It updated
as expected and from a manager's point of view I was comforted by the
fact things were being handled accordingly without my intervention.
|NetSupport’s Web interface offers comprehensive management
for support incidents. (Click image to view larger version.)
NetSupport Help Desk is a nice complement to NetSupport TCO, which ultimately
is where the true power of this suite of application lies. Having the
ability to use remote control and chat immediately with machines that
have their information stored in the TCO database makes supporting not-so-savvy
end users a bit less frustrating for both you and them.
Rodney Landrum is an MCSE working as a data analyst and systems engineer for a software development company in Pensacola, Florida. He has a new book from Apress entitled ProSQL Server Reporting Services.