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Review: ScriptLogic Help Desk Authority 9.0

Help Desk Authority 9.0 from ScriptLogic is a Help desk ticketing system that integrates with some of the company's other products to offer a complete IT service management solution. The core software consists of Helpdesk Administrator (a Microsoft .NET Framework desktop client) and a server component that requires Microsoft SQL Server 2005 or later (full or express version). The server component includes modules to import users and groups into Help Desk Authority from Active Directory (AD) and import information from other ScriptLogic tools, such as Desktop Authority (desktop management software), Foglight NMS (a network monitoring tool), and HDAsset (a machine inventory tool). Microsoft IIS is needed for the optional web components, which include a fully featured browser version of the desktop client and a ticket requester for users. Help Desk Authority runs on Windows XP SP3 and later.

Help Desk Authority aims to simplify life for Help desk staff by integrating network monitoring utilities (e.g., Foglight NMS), social media tools (e.g., message board, chat functionality), remote support software (e.g., Remote Support Center), and other tools into its Help desk ticketing system. All these tools are accessible from Helpdesk Administrator. When you log on to Helpdesk Administrator, you're presented with a Microsoft Outlook-style interface for browsing the default views and open tickets. As with Outlook's interface, the desktop client's interface is a little too busy for my taste. I prefer the simpler layout of the web client.

Help Desk Authority's dashboard, which Figure 1 shows, provides an overview of open issues in the form of charts that are interactive and can be used to drill down to open tickets in the database. Tickets can hold a mass of information, including links to users (which Help Desk Authority refers to as requesters) and their issue history and assets. Client and product information can also be stored, which is useful for service providers.

 Figure 1: The dashboard in the Helpdesk Administrator desktop client
Figure 1: The dashboard in the Helpdesk Administrator desktop client

The query manager in the desktop client doesn't have any limitations, so you can perform detailed searches, making it easy to find issues based on any criteria you choose. Although Help Desk Authority provides a number of built-in reports you can run, you need to purchase SAP Crystal Reports to generate custom reports.

The Remote Support Center console, which can be launched from Help Desk Authority, runs in a web browser and provides quick and simple access to remote computer settings and configurations. The console brings together the functionality of separate Microsoft tools, such as the Microsoft Management Console (MMC) Computer Management snap-in. It also provides an easy way to browse Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) data over a secure SSL link. Other features include file transfer capabilities and access to Windows Performance Monitor and Scheduled Tasks.

Help desk staff can use Remote Support Center to manage remote computers, without the need to run complex commands or start a desktop session on the remote devices. Remote control is achieved through the ExpertAssist client, which can be installed from the Remote Support Center console. A reduced-functionality version of the remote client, InstantAssist, can also be downloaded to remote desktops, without the need for the user to have any special privileges to complete the install process. Both ExpertAssist and InstantAssist require Java.

There are two editions of Help Desk Authority: Professional and Enterprise. The Enterprise Edition comes with:

  • 250 seats for Remote Support Center, HDAsset, and Password Self-Service (a module that lets users reset forgotten passwords and unlock accounts without contacting the Help desk)
  • 50 device licenses for Foglight NMS
  • five technician licenses

Remote Support Center, HDAsset, and Foglight NMS must be installed and licensed separately in the Professional Edition, which includes two technician licenses. Additional technician licenses retail at $499 for both editions. Both editions also include the free sl360 Troubleshooting Tool Suite.

Help Desk Authority is a complex product but offers a lot of functionality for the price. On the plus side, tickets can be customized, issues can be automatically escalated by email, and users can reset their own passwords with the optional Password Self-Service module. Although setting up and customizing Help Desk Authority will likely require a time commitment, you won't need to pay for professional services. On the minus side, although Help Desk Authority aims to simplify life for Help desk staff by assimilating the remote support, network monitoring, and social media tools into the main product, this assimilation adds more complexity and can sometimes be confusing. The bottom line is that the Help Desk Authority is an affordable option for mid-sized organizations and service providers looking for enterprise-class functionality. However, you shouldn't overlook the time required to get it set up and the possible learning curve for your Help desk staff.

Help Desk Authority 9.0
PROS: Enterprise-class features at an attractive price
CONS: Add-ons and other components can lead to operational complexity
RATING: 4 out of 5
PRICE: $1,995 for the Professional Edition; $7,995 for the Enterprise Edition
RECOMMENDATION: If you're on a budget and looking for a reliable IT service management solution with good support, Help Desk Authority could fit the bill if you have the time to set it up and train the Help desk staff.
CONTACT: ScriptLogic • 800-813-6415 or 561-886-2400 •

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