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Introducing SolarWinds Service Desk (SWSD)

Level 9

I’m excited to announce the general availability of SolarWinds® Service Desk, the newest member in the SolarWinds product family, following the acquisition of Samanage.

 

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SolarWinds Service Desk (SWSD) is a cloud-based IT service management solution built to streamline the way IT provides support and delivers services to the rest of the organization. The solution includes an ITIL-certified service desk with incident management, problem management, change management, service catalog, and release management, complemented by an integrated knowledge base. It also includes asset management, risk and compliance modules, open APIs, dashboards, and reporting.

 

Core Service Desk

SWSD includes a configurable Employee Service Portal, allowing employees to make their service requests, open and track their tickets, and find quick solutions through the knowledge base. The portal’s look and feel can be customized to your branding needs, and

configurable page layouts support your organization’s unique service management processes.

 

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For IT pros working the service desk, we provide an integrated experience to bring together all related records (for example, assets or knowledge base articles related to an incident or change records related to a problem), so the agent can see all the information available to expedite the resolution.

 

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To help agents prioritize work, Service Level Management (SLM) helps build and manage SLA policies directly within the service desk, including auto-escalation rules.

 

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IT pros often need to be on the go or need to respond to urgent service requests and incidents after hours. The SWSD mobile app, available on both iOS and Android mobile devices, allows agents to work on records, make approvals, and track the status of their work queue at all times.

 

Process Automation

Driving automation throughout all aspects of service delivery helps service desk groups drive fast, affordable, and highly consistent services to the rest of the organization. Process automation in SWSD uses custom rules logic to route, assign, prioritize, and categorize inbound tickets, change requests, and releases.

 

The Service Catalog allows you to define and publish IT (VM provisioning or password reset) and non-IT services (employee onboarding) through the Employee Service Portal. The catalog forms defining those services are dynamic and can be configured to fit specific use cases, with little to no coding required.

 

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The other part of defining any Service Catalog item is automated fulfillment workflow.

 

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IT Asset Management and CMDB

SWSD offers full asset lifecycle management starting with the management of IT and non-IT asset inventories and an audit history of changes. Compliance risk analysis helps expose unmanaged software or out-of-support software and devices. Where applicable, asset information incorporates contract, vendor, and procurement data to provide a full view on assets under management.

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The Configuration Management Database (CMDB) populated by service supporting configuration items (CIs) plays a critical role in providing better change, problem, and release management services. Knowing what CIs support each service and the dependencies between them helps IT pros to better assess the risks and impacts related to IT changes, driving better root cause analysis (RCA) in problem management, as well as being better prepared for new software releases.

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Integrations

Many service desk processes can be integrated into other IT and business processes. SolarWinds Service Desk comes with hundreds of out-of-the-box integrations and an open REST API, allowing you to make it part of the workflows you need.

 

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We are releasing a brand-new integration today with Dameware® Remote Everywhere (DRE). The great synergy between SWSD and Dameware’s remote support capabilities allow agents to initiate a DRE session directly from a SWSD incident record.

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Artificial Intelligence (AI)

AI is embedded in a few different SWSD functions, introducing a new level of automation and an improved time to resolution. Our machine learning algorithms analyze large sets of historical data, identify patterns, and accelerate key service management processes. There is a “smart” pop-up within the employee service portal that auto-suggests the best corresponding knowledge base articles and service catalog items related to the keyword(s) typed in the search bar.

 

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For agents, AI helps with automatic routing and classification of incoming incidents, reducing the impact of misclassifications and human errors. It also offers “smart suggestions” agents can leverage when working on a ticket. Smart suggestions are made based on keyword matching from historical analysis of similar issues—those suggestions offer knowledge base articles or similar incidents, advising the agent on the best actions to take next.

 

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Reports and Dashboards

SolarWinds Service Desk comes with dozens of out-of-the-box reports to analyze and visualize the service desk’s KPIs, health, and performance. Those reports help agents, managers, and IT executives make data-driven decisions through insights, including trend reports, incident throughput, customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores, and SLA breaches.

 

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Dashboards provide a real-time dynamic view of the service desk. Dashboards are comprised of a set of widgets that can be added, removed, and configured to adjust to the individual needs of the agent, manager, or organization.

 

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This has been a pretty packed inaugural product blog for us, and I hope you found it useful. We’d love to get your feedback and ideas here. Please stay tuned to many more ITSM updates as we’re quickly building out the new THWACK Service Desk product forum.

26 Comments
Level 10

Good afternoon,

Obviously this is only a very high level overview, but the first impression is not bad.

Have I said that, it is also a wee bit scary for WebHelpDesk users like us. Does this means that WHD is coming to its end of life? Has the software platform reach its limits? Will Solarwinds concentrate resources onto the new product and take them away from WHD?

Do you wish to encourage WHD users to use the new system? if this is the case, is there a financial incentive to move? Will there be a test system be provided for customers to give it a try for, lets say, 3 month or so?

Sorry if I got the wrong end of the stick, but this is my first impression.

Regards,

Eberhard

Level 9

I was thinking the same thing. This looks like it solves many of the complaints we have about WHD. It would be great if SolarWinds hosted a call to lay out their strategic roadmap for both of these products so that we can make an informed choice on where we want to invest our time and effort. I would be particularly interested in knowing if SolarWinds is going to build any kind of migration tool that can migrate information from WHD to Samage/SWSD.

This is exciting news for Solarwinds team for sure, we just want to know how this affects us.

Level 9

I've got the same concerns.  Development of WHD has been very, very slow to say the least.  We would be interested in knowing the upgrade path and costs for customers that have up to date paid support with WHD.

Level 9

Because it's a SaaS offering, it looks like SWSD will cost us over 5x what WHD does (not including the per device change, I'm not sure how that's calculated). Service Desk Pricing | SolarWinds

Level 7

These were my thoughts too when I first read about the acquisition.
WHD has worked for us, but has at times been clunky at best... With our support coming up for renewal at the end of the year, this could be a good migration path.

However, I think clear migration paths need to be put forward to customers, not just "hey, we got a new product! come buy it."

Level 10

I'm curious how this would cost 5x more for your team. I'm not sure what the renewal costs per year are (and I'm assuming WHD requires yearly spend just like NPM and everything else does), but for a team of 5 agents and 1000 devices SWSD on a business level license is $5940/yr. WHD looks to be $3500/yr for 5 techs, plus you have to bring your own hardware and manage the updates/maintenance/etc. If the costs involved to manage the server is more than $2,440 per year than you would come out ahead using the cloud model. As a spitball, let's say a suitable server is $1,200 with a 3-year replacement lifecycle, so $400/year for hardware. That means your sysadmin needs to spend less than $2,040 of his salary to manage the hardware. At $35/hour averaging 1 hour per week, that's only $1,820/year. When you factor in all the costs, I think the pricing is much closer than you realize. And I think I'm estimating fairly conservatively, PLUS since you pay by the agent and device, if you suddenly have need for fewer agents and machines due to a corporate downsizing, your opex goes down immediately. And from a cash flow basis, it's typically easier to spend $495/month rather than $3,500 every year, plus Sysadmin salary per month, plus a new server every few years.

Just giving you all a different perspective. Comparing this to something like Zendesk, they look to be competitive on pricing.

Product Manager
Product Manager

My name is Brandon Shopp and I am a VP of Products here at SWI and oversee WHD.  Just to alleviate any concerns, WHD is NOT going away.  If you look at the various numbers in terms of the service desk market size, it is quite large and based on owning WHD through the years we have heard demand for a SaaS product and we believe there is sufficient need and demand for both in our product portfolio.  WHD will continue to live on and we have a release/update in testing right now.  As many of you know a focus for us has been on modernizing the UI as well as address some usability items, but if there are features in WHD you would like to see please just DM me via Thwack.  I talk with multiple people using WHD a week and love talking to folks about how they use it and what they would like to see.

Level 9

Who are you buying renewals from?  I just pulled up the customer portal and the 1 year 15 tech license support I'm getting quoted for renewal is $1815.  So try the math on the new product with 15 technicians and 25,000 devices (chromebooks, iPads, workstations all included).  I get $69 per tech per month for 1 year as 12,420 plus an additional 12,500 for device licenses.  So retail pricing for the new product is close to $25,000 versus less than $2000.  Please correct me if I'm way off on something here.

Level 7

Why just not make on-prem version of SWSD and offer only one product with all good features we see in this overview?

Is it ok to generally think of this as service desk = SAAS and WHD = on prem, as far as general scope?

Level 8

Hi everyone.  I'm Brandon's colleague leading the product team for SWSD.  I wanted to circle around to make sure we answered all of the questions.

Brandon addressed the future of WHD, the launch of SWSD does not create a change for that product our our customers.

We are not asking anyone to move from WHD.  The benefit of our portfolio is that we have solutions to meet diverse needs.  If you think SWSD may be a fit for you, feel free to start a trial and have a look for yourself and our sales team will be in contact with you.

As for incentives, we are not offering any sort of promotion at this time.  However, if you feel SWSD may be a good solution for you, please work with our sales team on your specific situation.

Thanks and happy to be part of the SolarWinds team!

Level 8

There have been promises of a new UI for ages. Its going to take way more than some new button shapes and CSS to make WHD a proper ITIL product.

Product Manager
Product Manager

Yes at a high level

Product Manager
Product Manager

SWSD was written from the ground up with cloud in mind, so using cloud native services and infrastructure and to retrofit to also support on-prem would be a large endeavor.

Product Manager
Product Manager

What else would you like to see Bret?  Happy to have a web meeting anytime to discuss deeper.

Level 10

Dear Brandon,

Years ago WHD was a good product, but it seems to me (and many comments here on Thwack seems to confirm this) was not developed and kept align with progress in comparison with other call management systems. Because of this WHD, as good as it is, started not to meet the needs of a tool for IT Management. If you haven't lost customers in recent times, including us, is that it is a huge undertaking to replace a call management system. But if Solarwinds does not decide to put a substantial amount of money in developing WHD to bring it into 2020 it is only a matter of time. But maybe that is what Solarwinds intends to do, let WHD die a honourable death and try to move customers to SWSD (which is substantially more expensive).

You encouraged the Thwack WHD community to let you know ".... what we would like to see....". Hm, if you had a look at Thwack in recent months you see a bucket load of suggestions, report of issues etc. I am not quite sure if it is helpful to talk to you again about what users of WHD would like to see.

What we would like to see is to get WHD product updated with suggestions and reports made in Thwack, add features into it similar seen in SWSD and get this in a robust and reliable package. We pay thousands of Euros for maintenance and what we get? The latest version of WHD was withdrawn form download because it had to many problems.

So you must excuse that the WHD community (well, at least me) is suspicious of Solarwinds strategy plans about their call management applications.

Regards,

Eberhard

I'd love to have an awesome SolarWinds Help Desk ticketing tool for our Enterprise to replace the HEAT and ITSM and LANDesk Service Desk / Web Desk solutions we've used over the years.  Each had their own attractions, but all fell short in deployment.

I have to confess the pricing structure is such a large hurdle that I can't quite get my head around it.

Exactly what is an "agent"?  Is it software installed on every PC that must be managed?

We have 50,000 PC's on our network.  I realize bulk purchase of agents will reduce pricing, but let's play with the numbers that are public:

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50,000 agents x $69-per-month, plus 50,000 devices x $.50-per-device per month, x 12 months is almost $42M per year.  That can't be right.

Level 8

Hi Rick,

An Agent is the service desk technician user license. My guess is with that many PCs, you have technicians in the low hundreds.   At your device count, volume discounts will apply.  The per device cost is for agent or agentless discovery to populate the Asset repository and CMDB.

Steve

So , I haven't looked much at the price, but here's how pricing usually works ddevore9​ - whatever you pay upfront, you pay 20%/yr after that in renewals. So if it's $25k for upfront that would be $5k/yr renewal. I don't even know where the pricing is for this thing, beyond agent pricing.

Level 9

I posted my thoughts over in the WHD forum, since I figured it was a better place to have this conversation than the comments of a blog post announcing another product.

Cloud offerings rarely offer a good price incentive.  It may seem attractive with the seemingly low entry point and it being a OPEX over CAPEX.   Really my SolarWinds was never CAPEX'd anyway.   I like rschroeder​ example.   Let's see an even smaller environment,

5 Techs - $69 per month = 345 / mo or $4140 annually

534 devices - $.50 = $267 / month or $3204 annually

that totals $7344 annually.  I know WHD is much less than this regardless of the purchase price and annual renewal.  I know this because i owned it for years before Cherwell.   At the scale my parent company uses HelpDesk software, which is Cherwell, they have 200 tech, and 25000 endpoints, not including network equipment, printers, and software which is all covered with Cherwell.  The SolarWinds Cloud based HD solution would be nearly $315,600 before bulk discounts, any startup fees etc.   That seems high.  Over 3 years that is almost $1 mil.   simply too much. 

OTRS is the most fully featured solution I have ever seen and used at any scale and its for the most part free.  There has to be a happy medium.  To make it worthwhile, I think to be competitive, SolarWinds should price it so it's only slightly higher that what WHD should cost at any level. Transition WHD users to it over time and then only support the one platform. 

I would test it out if it were $69 per tech per year and $.50 a device per year, but not per month.  I would even consider $169 per tech per year.  

MVP
MVP

They are two completely different products that have different user markets.

WHD is a relatively straightforward helpdesk or ticketing system with asset management

SWSD is a full suite ITSM product with service catalog, CMDB etc that goes far beyond simple ticketing. It is designed for those folks who want the full service management beyond a ticketing system.

It will be an interesting comparison, I'm going to be comparing it against the cloud offerings from Ivanti and Cherwell very soon.

Level 7

This is very timely, my company use WHD however we have outgrown the product and development is slow. Would it be possible to migrate the tickets from the WHD to this system,

Product Manager
Product Manager

Not at this point in time.  We are looking at a mini-migration utility for WHD folks like you for the future, but it would be more focused on configuration and settings vs. ticket history. 

Level 7

Do customers of the former Samanage company have a SW customer portal? How do I find that?

Level 8

We will be providing an experience on the SolarWinds customer success center over time.  We have not yet implemented it as of yet, but we are planning for it.