Help Desk Software: Exploring Deployment Options

IT professionals of today tend to have high expectations with regard to the software tools they use to track and manage their customer issues. Almost everyone who is researching Help Desk software is looking for the application that has the most powerful feature set at the best price. Obviously it is easier to work with prospects who have a very good idea of their core requirements for the particular project they are focused on. This allows the sales agent to help them determine whether his or her particular product offering is a match. And since these calls are usually coming from IT Managers (or IT staff members who help manage hardware and infrastructure), it is almost always “understood” that they are looking for a solution that can be installed on their own server(s) inside their own IT environment.

Some providers of Help Desk software are now offering various deployment models for their solutions. This means that there are additional options that need to be talked about during the buyer’s product research phase. There can be some confusion around these deployment options, so it is important to be clear about what is actually available and the various names for these models. The three main deployment models are In-House (Perpetual), Hosted (SaaS), and Annual Subscription.

Most everyone has heard of a “Perpetual License” model. This means that the license has no expiration date associated with it, so once purchased, it can be used indefinitely by the customer. We call this an In-House option, since it is installed on a server inside the customer’s environment. While this model typically requires the greatest initial investment, it is often still the most popular of the three. The main reason for this is the current mindset that continues to prevail in the IT world that says “we want to manage the application internally in our own environment so we will have ultimate control of the software, the backend database, the configuration, etc.” However, current trends show that some firms are becoming more open to other deployment models.

Another well-known deployment model is the “Hosted” model. This is also often referred to as SaaS (Software as a Service) or “Cloud Computing” and is becoming more and more popular these days. This particular model is not installed at the customer site, but instead is hosted by the provider (so the software actually runs on a server in the provider’s data center). The greatest benefit of the Hosted model is that there is no requirement to set up servers or build out infrastructure, which is typically required for most In-House installations. Cost-wise, this model is typically the most affordable as it requires the smallest initial out-of-pocket investment to get started.

Still another deployment type is known as the “Annual Subscription” model. Some companies who use this term are referring to a pre-paid 12-month contract on what we previously referred to as the Hosted model. Other companies offer a 12-month license that works almost exactly like the In-House model, except that the license must renewed before the end of the 12 months, or it will shut down. At Novo Solutions, our Annual Subscription model seems to be growing in popularity – mainly because it offers the best of both worlds. The software can still be installed internally in the customer’s own environment, and is also less expensive than the In-House/Perpetual model. This option is also drawing more attention because of the current economic climate and the need to cut back on spending.

This means that everyone can evaluate the various solutions that are on the market and can determine which software truly is the best fit for their needs and their IT infrastructure, as well as their budget. It helps to have an idea of which deployment model you are focused on at the beginning of a new software research project. And since some vendors only offer one of the models described above, this should save time by helping you to narrow your list before investing lots of time and digging in deep with product demonstrations and trials.

Researchers who have “done their homework” and have a clear understanding of what their IT Director is looking for will save their company time and money by narrowing the playing field and knowing which vendors to invest quality time with. By understanding the various deployment models and asking questions the right questions in advance, a solid “research plan” can be drafted prior to beginning the project. This can also be a great way to gain favor with Senior Executives as they will begin to see who is better at researching and managing software projects.

Copyright ?? 2010 Clark Tanner

— Written by: Clark Tanner, Account Manager for Novo Solutions, Inc. Novo Solutions, Inc. is an Independent Software Vendor (ISV) in Virginia Beach, Virginia specializing in Customer Support Software. Free trial versions of the Novo Help Desk Software, Knowledge Base Software and suite of web-based Customer Support Solutions are available. Contact us for more information.

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