Web Help Desk Will Help Your I.T. Staff Be The Most Popular People In Your Organization
Updated September 15, 2015

Web Help Desk Will Help Your I.T. Staff Be The Most Popular People In Your Organization

Michael Santangelo | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 8 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source

Software Version

12.3.0 - Build #12.3.0.471

Modules Used

  • Tickets, Clients, Assets, Parts, FAQs, Reports, Messages

Overall Satisfaction with SolarWinds Web Help Desk

We deployed SolarWinds Web Help Desk in a school district for use by teachers and administrators to report issues with technology in our district. The Tech Department (6 people) access the technician side, while just about 800 teachers and administration staff access the client portion of the system. The only people who do not have access to put in tickets are the students - they have to ask teachers to report the issues directly to us. It really helps get a handle on what issues are occurring, the frequency with which they occur, and which people we can count on to give us the best information.
  • Client/Location History Is Very Helpful
  • AD/LDAP Integration Is Easy
  • SolarWinds Support Is Very Responsive
  • DameWare Remote Control Integration Is Useful
  • FAQ System Is A Big Time Saver
  • Messages System Helps Prevent A Flood Of Tickets Over Known Issues
  • Support occasionally misses the mark (e.g. usually simple misunderstandings or mis-communications)
  • Intermittent UI bugs (e.g.: fields disappear until page refreshes)
  • AD/LDAP imports can be quirky (e.g.: user name changes, deactivates old user, makes new user instead of just renaming user)
  • Reports can be tricky to write
  • Decreased costs (SolarWinds Web Help Desk was much cheaper than our previous solution) is a BIG positive impact
  • Great tracking of users and locations for ticket history is also a great positive impact (we can be aware of issues)
  • Allows easy communication with end users which increases customer service is another plus
We primarily selected SolarWinds Web Help Desk because of the rich feature set and low price point. When we were doing comparisons of the different suites available, we wanted to find an easy to deploy, feature rich, and inexpensive solution. Web Help Desk met all these criteria. Talking with their sales and support staff prior to the purchase helped us seal the deal. We did a 30 day trial in-house and found that it had every feature we wanted (including the import email system to enter comments on tickets). Additionally we found a large forum with lots of users who have been posting tweaks and configuration guides to get the most performance out of the system. Overall, it was just the best choice for us.
I think it is well suited for an environment where AD/LDAP integration is a must, and in situations where tracking individual part prices for billing purposes. It's also great where you need to track problematic users or rooms. The ticket history is amazing. This might be too much for a small-ish shop, but for large to medium groups this is a great piece of help desk software.

SolarWinds Web Help Desk (WHD) Feature Ratings

Organize and prioritize service tickets
8
Expert directory
8
Subscription-based notifications
8
ITSM collaboration and documentation
8

Using SolarWinds Web Help Desk

800 - The people using our implementation of Web Help Desk range from teachers, paraprofessionals, secretaries, security officers, administrators, human resources, budget, and of course technical staff. Everyone in the district (except for students) has access to Web Help Desk and everyone is capable of putting tickets into the system. Some people have their secretaries put the tickets in for them, since Web Help Desk supports including other people in on their tickets (as a CC field, just like in email).
2 - The types of skills needed to support Web Help Desk are basic Linux skills (in our implementation of a Linux VM), SSL certificates, basic web design (for messages, FAQs, etc) , Excel (for mass importing of assets, rooms, etc), some VMWare experience cannot hurt (for the purposes of getting the VMs configured and setup properly), some database experience (for backups, restores, etc), Tomcat experience would definitely help (for the purposes of configuring the web server), as well as basic configuration management skills.
  • End Users Needing to Report Issues
  • Technicians Needing to be Aware of Issues
  • Managers Being Able to See Metrics Via Reports
  • End Users Being Able to Check the Status of their Reported Issues
  • Technicians and Managers Being Able to see Trends in Problems
  • We have been able to assign a price to parts that are used in repairs for devices that are out of warranty (and in warranty, though they don't get charged for these) so that building administrators can be aware of the costs of their staff not properly maintaining equipment).
  • We are able integrate Dameware Remote Control into SolarWinds Web Help Desk to immediately remote control a computer that a person has reported a problem on.
  • We have been able to use SolarWinds Web Help Desk to keep track of mobile inventory that travels throughout the building by keeping notes of where each device has been found and when.
  • We may be able to replace an inventory tracking client we install on all machines by having our list of inventory entirely inside Web Help Desk.
  • We may be able to use Web Help Desk to keep track of NJ One Call reports by having the call out emails generate a ticket that can be dealt with and recorded.
  • We would like to be able to create a troubleshooting guide via FAQ that link to other FAQ (I cannot login -> Click here for unable to login to any computer, Click here for unable to login to only one computer, etc)
We are definitely going to be sticking with Web Help Desk for the foreseeable future since the product is very inexpensive for the features that it provides, the integration that it has with our existing systems, and the ease for managing users, assets, locations, and tickets. Web Help Desk is a great product that is backed by even better support, which is well worth looking into if you are considering moving to a new ticketing system.

Evaluating SolarWinds Web Help Desk and Competitors

Yes - We used Web Help Desk to replace Schoolwires Assist. We were looking for additional functionality that Assist did not offer at the time (specifically, email comments for tickets). Additionally we were looking for a product with a lower price point than Assist. Assist was a very simple, straightforward product. It was easy enough to use, but didn't offer powerful features like Web Help Desk does. Additionally, Assist was hosted off-site and we wanted something that was fully in our control.
  • Price
  • Product Features
  • Product Usability
The single most important factor in our decision was features. My boss had spent a lot of time talking with other school districts in an attempt to get a feel for their ticketing systems. A lot of people were telling him about features like email comments, mobile interfaces, and asset management. Assist had none of these features. Web Help Desk has all of them. It was a huge factor in making the decision to switch.
We tried out several different options, and a lot of them were really good. That being said, the pricing schemes for several ticketing systems can be a little cost-prohibitive. We probably would have kept looking at different alternatives if we had more time to do so. Time was a big factor in our decision making as we wanted to avoid the renewal with Assist. We would have probably tried more than 4 or 5 solutions, and definitely would have dedicated more than 2 or 3 weeks on each individual product, if we had the opportunity.

SolarWinds Web Help Desk Implementation

Take the time to roll out a test VM to configure and make changes to before doing a live deployment, this way you don't end up with a VM that has been tweaked and re-tweaked until it's perfect and instead end up with a final, polished product.
I would also recommend taking the time to read through the support forums for figuring out minor issues that may pop up, chances are that you aren't going to be the first one to encounter them.
When all is said and done, SolarWinds Support is VERY responsive and you shouldn't hesitate to contact them.
Yes - First, we took a demo version of Web Help Desk and deployed it as a VM for use solely within the Tech Department for testing purposes. We wanted to confirm that it had the features we expected and needed from a Help Desk solution. After about a month we determined that everything was working as expected, and moved onto the next phase.
Second, we made a completely new VM and deployed the provided image from SolarWinds. We did a few tweaks (SSL mostly, to get good ratings in terms of security) and did a little bit of side-by-side comparison since we got the test box working exactly the way we wanted. Having the two VMs side by side made it very easy to compare and fix features that we almost would have forgotten.
Third, we made a quick demonstration of the site and it's features for both some of the tech staff and for the general district users, since it is a very different system compared to the one we had used before (Schoolwires Assist).
Change management was minimal - Change management wasn't really an issue for us, since the roll-out occurred over the summer when staffing is minimal. We did, however, take the time to setup a redirect from our old ticketing system to the new one. Since Web Help Desk supports AD/LDAP, the difficulty in getting users to sign in was minimal (as they were all using their Windows logins to get in and do their work).
  • SSL Certificates in Tomcat were tricky since we had nothing but Windows Certificate Files which had to be converted.
  • We did an update and it broke the licensing until we contacted SolarWinds and had them reset our license.
  • There are a lot of small tweaks to do to get decent security ratings for Qualys.
  • The asset import tool is quirky and requires following a VERY predefined format.

SolarWinds Web Help Desk Training

Web Help Desk was super easy to pickup without training. I would absolutely recommend doing it this way as you learn the ins and outs of the interface and how to use it simply by playing around. You need to take the time to dig through the menus and see what is where and how Web Help Desk relates to your existing solution and what changes you need to make to your process to strike the right balance between end-user convenience and technician abilities.

Configuring SolarWinds Web Help Desk

Web Help Desk is very extensive and complex, but honestly it is just the right amount for a product like this. Web Help Desk is capable of handling asset management, client tracking, frequently asked questions, and broadcast messages. Since Web Help Desk is a one-stop-shop for all technical issues, it's great to have all the information easily accessible. The level of options provided allows us to adapt Web Help Desk to fit pretty much every scenario we've encountered so far.
My only recommendation is to take the time to walk through every single menu and sub menu that is available for you to examine in the administration portion of the website. I cannot comment on your specific configurations of course, but every time we needed to tweak the system for a problem, we have found a method available to use in the interface. Examples include changing the Email server timeouts to allow for the system to 'catch up' during busy periods, and changing the default so that clients cannot close tickets out manually after they've been assigned to a technician (forcing them to contact us so we don't waste a trip).
Some - we have done small customizations to the interface - We wanted to be able to have a school district logo and color scheme for the client side to use. From the Setup pane there is a "Look & Feel" tab under the General menu which allows you to import a logo and custom CSS. You can either paste in a complete CSS sheet or use their WYIWYG editor to generate real-time changes to a sample at the bottom of the page. It was super easy to get a customized interface for our end users, much better than anything I'd seen in Assist.
No - we have not done any custom code
Be sure to setup proper Database Backups from within the General menu. It is important to note that the basic Linux VM has limited hard drive space, so setting up a remote share that the VM can talk to in order to do off-pc backups is a great idea (which was recommended to us by SolarWinds Support). Also of note is that by default Web Help Desk gets about a C on the Qualys SSL Security Scan tool and had problems in Chrome due to weak Diffie-Hellman Certificates. A quick Google search will show you the Web Help Desk Support forums have several cipher suites which can be used to get better scores on the scan tool and address the weak Diffie-Hellman issue.

SolarWinds Web Help Desk Support

We've only had a few issues with Web Help Desk, and every time we have contacted SolarWinds they have given us excellent service. We had a problem where Database backups clogged the hard drive and prevented the server from starting back up (which was a critical issue). SolarWinds contacted me in less than 15 minutes after putting in a ticket and the representative was friendly, knowledgeable, and willing to explain best practices to help prevent this from happening again.
They get a 7 because once during initial setup we were encountering problems with SSL certificates in Tomcat and the answer they provided us was a little less than satisfactory. We have our SSL certificates issued primarily as Windows PFX/PKC12, and Tomcat only accepts JKS. We were trying to get help on the conversion and SolarWinds kind of left us in a lurch. Thankfully, some people in the support forums had a solution and were able to help us out.
ProsCons
Quick Resolution
Good followup
Knowledgeable team
Problems get solved
Kept well informed
Immediate help available
Support understands my problem
Support cares about my success
Quick Initial Response
None
Yes - Yes, they resolved the issue relatively quickly. The bug report stemmed from the Messages addin, it was constantly reporting a problem with the email server we were using (Gmail) even though emails were coming and going without issue. It was very strange, to say the least. However, the SolarWinds support group was able to get us a solution workaround very quickly (basically to change the timeout for Gmail).
In February of 2015 at around 3:00pm , our Web Help Desk database apparently became corrupt or missing. We were, understandably, very concerned. At 3:18pm I put in an urgent ticket with SolarWinds. By 3:27pm I was on the phone with a representative who was eager to help get us back up and running. They remote controlled my desktop to gain access to the VM and after a quick glance through our log files determined that our drive had just run out of space because the backups weren't being cycled properly. He took the time to fix the problem (by removing temp files and some REALLY old backups) then got our system back up and running. He then showed us how to get a proper rotation for backups setup. We asked about doing a network backup and he provided a method to make this work. It was a great experience overall, and I believe the representative went above and beyond by helping us future proof a problem that we had obviously created.

Using SolarWinds Web Help Desk

The system has time and time again proven to be much easier to use and setup for both technicians and end users. It is simple enough to enter a ticket for end users, and even easier to communicate with logging back and forth because you can reply to the ticket emails to enter comments on the tickets. The technician side is a little clunky at first, but after looking at it for a few minutes it's very clear to see what you need to do to accomplish the goals. The mobile interface is snappy and responsive. It's a great product overall.
ProsCons
Like to use
Relatively simple
Easy to use
Technical support not required
Well integrated
Consistent
Quick to learn
Convenient
Feel confident using
Lots to learn
  • Entering New Tickets Is Easy For Clients
  • Assigning Assets to Rooms and Buildings Is Easy For Technicians
  • Creating FAQ Solutions is Easy For Technicians
  • Creating Broadcast Messages is Easy For Technicians
  • Configuring SSL Can Be Cumbersome in Tomcat
  • Changing Assets Around Can Be Cumbersome
  • Getting Email Per Queue to Work can be Tricky
Yes - The mobile interface from the technician side is simple and straightforward to use. It is very slimmed down from the standard interface but provides the key functionality of being able to enter comments, set statuses, and resolve tickets. I have not looked at the client side to see if there is a mobile interface there. The technician mobile interface is clean and makes perfect sense when you take a moment to look at it. It shows you your tickets, group tickets, and offers a search. The pages load quick, even on slow connections.

Integrating SolarWinds Web Help Desk

SolarWinds Web Help Desk supports AD/LDAP authentication for single-sign-on which is VERY useful. It also allows us to easily remote control devices with reported issues. The file import and export tools allow us to easily setup buildings, rooms, and assets assigned to those rooms. This makes it very easy for teachers to report which specific device is having a problem simply by selecting a device from the drop down menu when they create a ticket.
  • DameWare Remote Control
It is really as simple as adding in a macro to Web Help Desk ticketing for Remote Control. SolarWinds produces a guide which lays out the steps necessary to get a simple icon in the ticket view for Technicians which allows a technician to click a button to immediately remote control the device that a person has reported an issue with (assuming the machine is currently online).
  • Nagios/Zabbix
  • NJ One Call
  • Chromecast
I do not believe there is any support or plan to support these integrations, as they are all custom designed plans we have been working on in shop. I hope to be able to have a downtime in Nagios/Zabbix report to Web Help Desk in the form of a Broadcast Message that there is an outage/downtime. I hope to be able to take NJ One Call emails and generate a ticket (which should be VERY easy to do). I hope to be able to have a report that updates hourly and Chromecast it to our central display board.
  • File import/export
  • Single Signon
My advice would simply to be: read, read, read, read. SolarWinds has documented a lot of their features and how to properly implement them. If you don't take the time to read through the documentation and look through the setup then you will encounter problems. Imports have to follow VERY specific guidelines or they WILL fail (either with no import, bad import data, or duplicate import data). If you are confused, do not hesitate to contact support. They will help. If you feel confident that you've got it mostly figured out and just need a few tips, then use Google to find the SolarWinds Support Forums --- people there have posted lots of fixes and are always able to point you in the right direction.

Relationship with SolarWinds

I had very little interaction with the vendor during the sales process, as my boss (the director of technology) dealt with them. He did defer to me during the technical specifications and evaluation however, and working with the technical support and sales during this initial period was good overall. They did not seem to want to rush us or pressure us into switching to their product and generally seemed to be very interested in making sure their product would work well for us and be a fit for our organization.
I have primarily worked with their technical support staff following the sale, but it has always been very easy to get in contact with them. Their Support Ticketing System is very straightforward to use. Their staff is responsive (Less than 1 hour turnaround for general tickets, less than 15 minutes for priority/urgent tickets) and knowledgeable.
Always provide them with all the information you have available regarding the topic. They are more than willing to help you figure out if the product will support the ideas you are trying to accomplish. If you haven't heard back from them, update the ticket to request any information that you might need (I've only had to do this once, they've been very much on top of it whenever we have reported an issue).

Upgrading SolarWinds Web Help Desk

Yes - The release went relatively smoothly, however we did encounter a slight hiccup with regards to the licensing. We aren't quite sure what happened, and neither was SolarWinds Support, but for some reason when we upgraded it claimed our license was already activated and it wouldn't allow us to reactivate it. This wasn't a huge problem, as it said we had 30 or 60 days (honestly, I forget which) to activate it. I contacted SolarWinds Support, and they had some ideas as to what may have caused it, but more importantly immediately freed up our activate code and allowed us to reactivate it. There was no down time as a result, merely just confusion on our part.
  • Added security and support for newer SSL Certificate Requirements.
  • TomCat upgrades to address security concerns.
  • Some fixes with regards to the Java backend for reports and printing.
  • Improvements to the messaging system/faq specifically with regards to BBCode.
  • Additional report options and a ui to make custom reports simpler.