The best Service Desk Open Source solutions are a reality and here is a list of the best products on the market. All free and open source.
There are many Service Desk solutions on the market. Some are great but some are bad. Some are expensive and some are free. But what about open source? Are there open source service desk alternatives to commercial products that you can base your operations on? The answer is clearly yes. There are and they can be a great alternative to commercial ones.
Service Desk Open Source advantage
In theory, the benefits of using Open source are big financial savings. Looking at commercial Service Desk solutions, SMB company with several technicians could save from $1200 – $20.000 (or even more) per year. That is a serious money.
Another benefit of using open source is vendor lock in. Can you easily export data if you decide to migrate to another product? What happens if a vendor goes out of business or discontinues the product? What happens if your company can not renew subscription? In this scenarios OSS solution really shines.
Combodo ITOP is a complete Service Desk solution with CMDB. User interface is great and is easy to navigate. ITOP has Service Management module where you can manage Contracts and services, Helpdesk module where you can manage requests and Configuration Management module where you can add your assets and configurations. What I like about CMDB module is that you can sort assets by Locations. Unfortunately some of commercial offerings still doesn’t offer this option. User interface is fresh and easy to navigate. Project is very active and you can get free support in forums. ITOP has about 3500 downloads per month on SourceForge so that must mean something. You can use plugins to extend functionality even though there are not that many available.
OTRS ITSM solution is one of the most used open source solutions. IT covers all aspects of service desk. Incident Management, Problem Management and CMDB are nothing new to this project. It’s the most mature OSS Service desk available. It’s also Pink Verify certified. Currently version 4 is in the latest beta stages and will soon be released. There are solutions that extend functionality and user interface. You can choose open source solution which you install on your own server or you can buy a hosted service with support.
CITSMART is a product created by Central IT from Brasil. I have heard of this tool only recently but I have become a big fan as soon as I tried it. It covers Incident Management, Request Fulfilment, Knowledge Management, Service Catalog,Configuration and Assets Management, Service Level Management, Change Management, Release and Deploy Management and Problem Management. CITSMART has 9 processes which are PinkVerify certified. Currently at version 2 is one of the biggest surprises.
Project Open is an interesting product. It’s not a Service Desk solution per se, but a complete stack for Project Office, Project Management, Timesheet tracking, Ticket Management, Asset tracking, Invoicing, Knowledge Management. It’s use shines with Service providers where you have to manage companies to whom you sell your services to.
For example: Company X orders new IT Infrastructure. Your job is to document all the assets in use, IP’s, software, credentials, routers and the rest of equipment to create a complete documentation. You have to create a project plan, open tickets for problems, track cost of your people, discuss project with team members and in the end charge for the services. The beauty of Project Open is that all the people who are involved in the project document time spent as well. That way you will know exactly what is your cost and how much you have to charge. t’s great at what it does and deserves applause. Product is open source and is available for download but you can choose a hosted plan with support.
OCS Inventory NG
OCS Inventory is an open source Inventory solution. Well, it’s much more that that. Along with Inventory with asset tracking it does software deployment as well. While the user interface improvement has to be a priority for the next version, beneath the rather outdated UI with elements in pastel colors and pink buttons lies a powerful framework. It’s so good that some commercial products use it’s technology. It’s hard to say to what level as libraries in cloud solutions can not be seen, but I did notice that inventory clients are used for commercial products.
It’s a powerful framework which can be used in the enterprise for inventory and software deployment. It offers integration with several ticketing systems as well as Service Desk solutions. It should be noted that even though UI may not be developed by the latest standards in UI design, the project is very active and stable.
I-doit is a CMDB solution. It’s available in 2 versions, open source and commercial. So far it’s the best open source CMDB that is actually usable. I admit that I was afraid that I-doit open source version would be discontinued. Development pace stopped when Synetics released 0.9.7. But, much to my surprise, it was reborn like a Phoenix rising from the ashes.
Developers discovered that the difference between the free and commercial version was greater than anticipated. They decided to merge open source version with the commercial development tree. That way, it’s easier to releases at about the same time. Now at version 1.4 open edition is stronger than ever, design is greatly improved and features were added making it the best open source CMDB in the world. It has the best way to navigate thorough the assets and locations and it can be integrated with Nagios, OCS Inventory, RT and OTRS. Really a great tool.
Disadvantages of Open source Service Desk solutions
Just like the benefits of using open source Service desk solutions there are also disadvantages. Out of several OSS service desk solutions only couple are considered enterprise grade. Before you make a decision which solution to choose, you have to consider that open source projects also get discontinued. Even though source is available for anyone to see, the question is if anyone is ready to pick on a project and continue with development. There are many products in open source world that showed prospects, were ahead of similar projects yet authors decided to abandon the project. You also have to consider that even though project may be free, you could easily have additional cost when using it.
Benefits of commercial Service Desk solutions are:
There are some amazing products on the market, with a beautiful user interface, easy to learn and features which can even motivate your team to be better with a faster response time.
You pay for the product or a service, but when you get stuck, you can call in and technician will help with your issues. Either configuration or fixing a bug. Don’t forget that some OSS products offer support via hosted service or subscription.
Some of the best commercial alternatives are:
While they cost money, they can be a time saver.
Service Desk Open source products listed in this article are all best of the best. They have proven that with quality code, good support, commercial option if requested can provide a great product for all types of people. I recommend that you test each of them just to get a feel. Most of them provide demo page where you can quickly jump to the UI. If open source is not your coup of tea, you can take look at the commercial offerings listed above.