It is always exciting to present what is new in our products, and this time I have something I'm particularly happy about: Web Help Desk (WHD) 12.2 and Dameware (DW) 11.1 integration. This Beta starts today and it also includes features mentioned in Web Help Desk 12.2.0: Looking behind the curtain. If you are interested in participation, please go ahead and sign up here:
Note: You have to own at least one of those products to be able to participate in this Beta. Also this Beta is not suitable for production environment and you need a separate test system.
Before we talk about the details, let's quickly introduce both products.
Web Help Desk is a powerful and easy-to-use help desk solution. It does not overload you with tons of configuration settings, but it's still enormously flexible, and for many use-cases it works out of the box. You can integrate it with Active Directory, turn Orion alerts into tickets automatically, use it for Asset Management, or use the powerful Knowledge Base to divert new service requests by proactively displaying possible service fulfillment articles.
Dameware on the other hand is an efficient remote support and administration tool, with support for multiple platforms (native MRC, RDP or VNC protocols) and the ability to connect to remote machines on LAN as well as over the Internet.
Help desk and remote support tools are natural complements and part of every technician's workflow. You have to track incidents and service requests, and in many cases you need to connect remotely to fix an issue or to collect more information as part of the investigation. It is a no-brainer that this workflow should be smooth, without unnecessary steps and clumsy moving around between systems. Therefore we work hard to integrate WHD and DW to create such workflows, and I want to share some initial results with you.
Seamless Start of a Remote Session
It was possible to integrate WHD and DW even before by using the "Other Tool Links" feature of WHD (read more about this integration in Dameware / Web Help Desk Integration article). This integration helps you to start remote sessions directly from WHD
and it requires little configuration. However, it also requires the installation of a 3rd party tool - CustomURL on every Technician's computer. To avoid this hassle, Dameware can register itself as a protocol handler in this Beta version for custom Dameware links. This works for all major browsers (specifically IE, Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Opera).
The links have the format of a normal URL with the schema part of the URL changed to "dwrcc". The browser will recognize such a URL and pass it to Dameware. Here is an example of the URL:
Dameware takes this URL, extracts information such as the IP address (10.140.47.98 in this example) or the host name if used, the WHD URL (https://10.140.2.79/helpdesk/WebObjects/Helpdesk.woa/ra in the example above) and so on, and tries to locate the remote machine in the Save Host list. If the IP address or the host name is found, Dameware will use the saved credentials and other information such as protocol to start a remote session. If no information is present in the Saved Host list, then you will see a connection dialog and you can enter the credentials. Yes, they will be saved for later re-use. :). In the following screenshot you can notice that Dameware runs in Web Help Desk integration mode. This is indicated by the yellow bar on the top of the window.
The MRC application will exit after the sessions ends, which is different from the normal behavior when you start a session manually.
We also added a new configuration option to WHD to display Dameware links. You can enable displaying links by selecting the check box under Setup -> Assets -> Options -> DameWare Integration Links Enabled (this is actually everything needed to configure the integration):
Notice that there is also a possibility to define the Request Type. This is related to the second part of integration which is available in this Beta: the ability to save session data to WHD.
Saving Session Data into Tickets
When the remote session ends, you have the opportunity to save some session data to WHD. Specifically this means session meta-data, chat history and any screenshot made from Dameware. Meta-data which will be saved includes the following:
- Technican's host name or IP address
- End user's host name or IP address
- Session start time
- Session end time
- Session termination reason (e.g. "The session was closed by technician")
Apart from meta-data, Dameware will also pass the chat history to WHD in the form of an RTF document. This document includes all formatting, and is easier to transfer for later use. The RTF document will be attached to a newly created ticket note, which will also include the aforementioned meta-data. Any screenshot you make will also be saved to WHD as an attachment. (Just be aware of the size limit of WHD attachments and make sure it is sufficient for screenshots). DW uses WHD API to pass the information and inform you about the progress. If anything goes wrong (for example the attachment too big), it will be displayed in a dialog. You will have the opportunity to save the session data locally, so no information is lost. All data is saved into a Note of the given Ticket. Any attachment will be the attachment of the Note, rather than a Ticket attachment to make is easier to identify attachments related to a given session. This information will not only provide customer evidence for remote sessions, but it also saves important information for troubleshooting during investigation and make it possible to track work time and report on it.
Connection from existing Ticket
The common scenario is that a user creates a new ticket reporting an issue on this desktop. You open the ticket details and there is information missing. Therefore you decide to connect remotely. You open the Asset Info tab and click the Dameware connection icon.
If you have previously connected to this machine and the credentials are saved in the Save Host list, you are seamlessly connected to the desktop of the user. Again, notice the yellow WHD integration banner.
While you troubleshoot, you make several screenshots, ask user for additional details over chat and investigate. When you are finished you close the session, and since the remote session was created from a WHD ticket, the integration dialog is displayed immediately (in some cases the workflow is different, but we will discuss this in a minute).
In the window title you can see the ticket number. The session meta-data section is displayed and you can describe what happened during the session in the text field below. This text will be saved into the ticket note. The duration of the session will be saved as work time in the same note. You can also decide to attach the chat history or any screenshot you made. Finally you can also decide whether to make this note visible to the client or not. Then you click on "Save".
In the next dialog window you can observe the progress of communication between Dameware and WHD. If anything goes wrong, you can see it here. If the session data was saved sucessfully you will see a confirmation dialog.
Following video demonstrates the workflow
Incident reported over phone
There are cases when the user will call you directly. In such a case, there is no ticket. If the user is however reporting an issue on this laptop, you can still connect remotely and troubleshoot the issue.
You can first search for the user's assets and connect directly from the resulting list.
In this case the session is initiated from the asset, not from the ticket. You are remotely connected and do whatever you need to do on the remote machine. When you are done, you close the session normally, but this time there is no ticket to be updated. Dameware will therefore display the list of existing tickets linked to the given asset. Only tickets which are not closed will be displayed, and you can update the ticket if the remote session was a follow-up on an existing incident.
If this is a completely new incident, you have the opportunity to create a new ticket. Click "Create new ticket" and the simplified new ticket form is displayed. Only the subject and the request details are available, and in the next step you can define more details of the newly created ticket (again, notice the ticket number in the window title).
The rest of the workflow is the same as in the previous case. You can add a note and save and screenshots or char into a ticket and newly created ticket is updated.
Over the Internet session
Sometimes you have mobile users and you need to connect to them over the internet. The workflow is similar: you click the Dameware connection icon, and Dameware tries to connect. If it doesn't work, you will get back to the connection dialog and you can click on "Internet connection" and establish an OTI session. Once you connect sucesfully, the workflow is the same as in the previous cases. You are asked to update a ticket, or you are offered a list of existing tickets and you can update the ticket as before.
This integration works with all supported protocols: MRC, RDP and VNC. The only difference is that with RDP we do not support screenshots and chat, and with VNC only screenshots are supported.
This integration aims to streamline incident resolution and make the workflow smoother. I'm looking forward to hearing from you, if you have any feedback, questions, comments or ideas, please let us know in comments.
Also do not forget to sign-up for Beta here!