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Summary. Those seeking a customer service or support system should seriously consider Zendesk or a similar web-based solution. By comparison, products like Microsoft System Center Service Manager (SCSM) are clumsy, bloated, costly, complicated, and require a proprietary software program that only runs on Windows computers.

What to Look For. A quality help-desk and customer support system helps in providing support to people – customers, consumers, employees, vendors, or whoever. Ideally it will establish an online community where people can find answers to common questions and problems. Crowd sourced feedback in the form of ratings helps to identify problem solutions that are better than others.

Why Avoid Microsoft SCSM. The Microsoft System Center Service Manager (SCSM) is a system built on the .NET framework. This is the current status of the .NET framework, and it represents a pattern of repeated security problems with that development platform:

“Multiple vulnerabilities have been discovered in the Microsoft .NET Framework which could allow an attacker to take complete control of an affected system.”* ~ Microsoft Security Alert, 9 October 2013

So, a system that’s supposed to solve problems is actually exposing your organization or company to potential security threats.

In addition to being a potential security threat, SCSM requires the following pre-requisites:

  • Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Management Objects
  • At least 2GB of memory
  • A faster processor
  • Microsoft Report Viewer Redistributable Check
  • ADO.NET Data Services Update check for .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 is installed

This means that users on Apple or Linux computers simply can’t use the system. Tablets and smartphones are also unable to use the system.

By comparison, solutions like Zendesk can be used by those requesting support and those providing support regardless of what computer or mobile device they are using. No special software or powerful computer is required. It’s inexpensive. If your computer goes down, you can quickly be up and running with another.

The SCSM solution is perhaps only useful to larger enterprise-level organizations and companies that desire the Active Directory connectivity that it offers. Having the database of known users and machines can be helpful. Otherwise, SCSM is more of a hinderance compared to other systems.

Online Customer Support Systems. Here’s a short list of a few online help desk support systems to consider.

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Footnotes

* Security Vulnerabilities of .NET Framework. Multiple vulnerabilities have been discovered in the Microsoft .NET Framework which could allow an attacker to take complete control of an affected system. Microsoft .NET is a software framework for applications designed to run under Microsoft Windows. These vulnerabilities can be exploited if a user visits or is redirected to a malicious web page that contains a specially crafted OpenType font (OTF) file, while using a browser that supports XBAP applications. Successful exploitation could result in an attacker gaining the same privileges as the logged on user. Depending on the privileges associated with the user, an attacker could then install programs; view, change, or delete data; or create new accounts with full user rights.

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