What’s under the hood of your help desk software?

Posted on March 19, 2013 by · Posted in Asset Management, IT Help Desk, Uncategorized, Web+Center

What’s under the hood of your Help Desk Software?

Do you ever consider the under-lying technology that comes with a software application and potential life cycle of any of the dependent technologies, and the long term architecture of the product itself from which the application is built upon?  When making a purchasing decision, do you ponder the potential buy out/merger of a company and it’s affects it may have on the usefulness of a product in 1-2 years?

After working with several new clients in the past few months who are now evaluating our Help Desk package after being abandoned by their vendor from a company merger/buyout consolidation, I decided it was valuable to write an article about 2 important criteria to consider when making your next Help Desk software or any significant software purchase.  One is to review the technology components from which the application is built, and the other is consider the potential company and product changes.

Lack of Control over the future of your Help Desk Product Life cycle

In the past 10 years, there has been incredible consolidation, mergers and buyouts of help desk product companies. Products that were leaders in the Help Desk market one day are often sold only 1 year later to a company that now controls 3 of the leading help desk products.  This new owner of the product may have their company interests ahead of the end user customer interests.  As a consumer, you have very little control and insight over the product direction the long term life cycle due to company churn .  Your significant investment in time and resources invested in your Help Desk  implementation may be short run by decisions outside of your control.

It is fairly common for a help desk product and their companies to be purchased by a larger company to include it as part of their portfolio of products.  The acquisition may be more strategic for their company future profits by acquiring a product and then discontinuing the product or replacing that product with another product and calling it an upgrade when it fact, it’s a new product.  This forces the customer to either perform an unplanned upgrade or research, purchase and configure an entirely new application.  The value of a software package require several years of  service to achieve a high Return On Investment (ROI), and this is often cut short by unforeseen company mergers and acquisitions.

Case Studies  – Software Churn and consolidation
Here are some examples of some common help desk products that in the past 2 decades,  have changed company owners on a fairly regular basis. (Disclaimer – The article below was researched from various sources on Wikipedia.  The exact dates and buyers of specific software vendors we hope are accurate, and we are sorry if there are some dates or company information that is not fully accurate.  The information below is primary compiled to show important trends in the industry rather than defining  particular companies and products history.)

According to Wikipedia, the Help Desk Giant Remedy was founded in 1990 and went public in 1995 and was named by Business Week as the “Number 1 Top Growth Company in America”.  They were purchased by competitor Peregrine System for 1.2 billion in 2001.  In 2002, Peregrine filed for bankruptcy.  Two months later Remedy was bought by another Help desk competitor BMC software.

Track-it:   A company called Blue Ocean Software founded in 1991 created track-it.  It was sold to Intuit in 2002.  In 2005, it was purchased by TA Associates and renamed to Numara Software.   In 2006, Numara Software purchased another competing help desk product called Footprints.  In January 2012, Numara Software entered into an agreement to be acquired by BMC software.

Magic Solutions: Another help desk product created in the 1990 was part of the consolidation of the Help Desk products with other companies and support of their products and customers suffer from the continual churn of their parent companies.    In 1998, Magic Solutions was purchased by Network Associates.  This product continues now as a component of BMC software when McAffee sold the business in 2004.  We probably missed a buy out or merger or two in there somewhere, but you can see the continual churn of companies and products, often leaving the help desk product user in limbo as the company sorts through buyouts and mergers and acquisition of very competing products.

Checking under the hood!

So even if you can’t predict how and when the next software merger and acquisition could affect you and your help desk product, you can research the underlying technology architecture and if it’s possible to continue to maintain the application with your own in-house staff or another firm if the architecture and technologies are straight  forward enough to allow for this type of support and continued maintenance.

Internet Software Sciences  Web+Center Transparent Technologies

At Internet Software Sciences, we purposefully have architect our Web+Center help desk to be transparent in our technologies so that you can continue to use our software year in and year out.

One of the strengths of the Web+Center product is its simple architecture.  The application consists of application code in Visual Basic Active Server Pages (ASP) that connects to a solid and industry tested SQL*Server or Access database.    We provide with you 100 percent of the source code in a format that is designed to be somewhat self documenting and provide a  programmers guide to help layout the database and any technologies architecture.  There are few technologies dependencies such as Microsoft IIS web services, SQL *Server databases, and ASP scripting.  These are very well know, stable, and reliable technologies.    There is nothing hiding in black boxes or components from a variety of sources that make the product life cycle volatile.  Lastly, we are one of few Help Desk providers that have not merged with larger firms, so we can be more responsive to our customers and can focus more on our users new feature requests rather than having to assimilate new competing products.


It is well worth the extra time spent to evaluate a product’s underlying software technologies and to research whether the company has plans to sell, obsolete, (end of life for product) or continue to support a software product for 2,3,5, or more years.

Scott Vanderlip – President – Internet Software Sciences