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Working on a new project, and need some documentation advice. I need to be able to document ~ 400 client sites to track assets, setup, hardware layout, network layout, etc. We want to have photos, maps, etc. wherever possible. We need this for a call center environment.

Has anyone found any off the shelf software that performs this functionality, or are we on our own to develop the tools that we require?


To elaborate, we're currently (we have currently) deployed a product called Ready Desk for use, but when we started to work through documenting serialized assets, we quickly learned that the product is closer to an in house solution, even though it is billed to be used for IT organizations of all sizes from 1-man shops, to multi-million dollar enterprises.

Features such as Asterisk Integration and Remote Desktop were appealing, as well as being able to have client portals for each customer, etc., but every feature we look at seems to be lacking for us.

What we need to do is to support 400-4,000 client sites with approximately 400-12,000 computers across all locations (1-3 computers per location).

We're looking to have an ability to log calls, create tickets, integrate with Asterisk derived phone systems, invoice customers for time and materials (Including sales taxes per client), track asset serial numbers and customers, load and retrieve photos of locations to better understand building layout, networking, location setup, etc. all within the single system, without the need of exporting to another application for anything. We'll create GL Entries in QuickBooks to track incoming/outgoing expenses.

I feel as if our only choice is to custom develop a system that meets these needs, or purchase an expensive (> $10,000) system to do this.

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Spiceworks is a good start for free. –  DanBig Sep 10 '12 at 15:47
    
@DanBig: Not bad looking, but seems to be comparable with readydesk.com which we have purchased, but is quickly lacking for our needs. We have no way of quickly uploading and attaching enough supporting materials to understand what is going on for a remote client in 30 seconds or less. We're supporting ~ 400 clients currently, and will be exploding to over 4,000 clients in a few months... so that's roughly 8,000-12,000 systems to be supported. –  Richard B Sep 10 '12 at 15:58
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@RichardB From your comment it sounds like you already have something in place -- please update your question to tell us more about what you've already got going on (and what problems you have with it that you need to solve) so we can make suggestions based on that. –  voretaq7 Sep 10 '12 at 16:17
    
@voretaq7 apologies. I'm typically better than this... just wanted to get something out quick while I'm at the day job, so I don't put it off any longer... Thx. –  Richard B Sep 10 '12 at 16:46
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2 Answers

It sounds like you're asking for the wrong thing: you say you want a documentation system, but you already seem to that -- what you need is a system that ties documentation, communication, and billing together: a CRM System.

There are some $10,000+ systems that do this (Microsoft Dynamics CRM), and some free ones (SugarCRM) -- Wikipedia has a short list of options.

The usual missing gap is phone system integration. Open-Source CRM Systems like SugarCRM will usually have a way to talk to Asterisk, while larger commercial ones may talk to Cisco's Unity system.


If you don't find a CRM solution to your liking (or within your budget) the grand traditional way of doing this by rolling your own is to glue together a bunch of open-source components:

  • Some kind of asset tracker (SpiceWorks, ReadyDesk, etc.)
  • Some kind of ticketing system (RT is the usual choice)
  • A billing system (preferably one that can look at the ticketing system)
  • A wiki (to store "documentation stuff" that doesn't fit elsewhere)
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ReadyDesk has a Wiki/kb system that we haven't explored yet. We were just trying to get something off the shelf, as we need to be live for 24/7 production by 10/1/2012. –  Richard B Sep 11 '12 at 15:06
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@RichardB That's a pipe dream - you barely have a spec and you haven't started evaluating technology, there is no way you will have a functioning launch in less than 30 days. I suggest you get together with your management and set more realistic deadlines that will let you evaluate software before pushing it out into production -- in the interim you may wind up going live with what you've got, so plan for that contingency. –  voretaq7 Sep 11 '12 at 17:02
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At a past company they used Rackwise. At another company they picked Connectwise as it combined asset discovery and mapping with an IT help desk. I think for smaller IT Consulting firms there is a lot of value for these types of tools especially when it comes to asset discovery. So many times a customer will plug in a random computer, or worse, a router without any knowledge to the IT firm.

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Any comments on what each system ran to purchase? Did either of these integrate with Asterisk PBX? –  Richard B Sep 10 '12 at 21:20
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