Wednesday, 4 November 2015

OTRS 5 Review

I've been using OTRS for about 10 years now, starting when I was doing desktop / server support at uni. Since then it's changed a lot in the way it looks, but fundamentally it has remained the same. The great things about OTRS are:

  • creating / modifying / updating and closing tickets is easy
  • the interface is relatively straightforward
  • creation of tickets from emails is easy
  • reporting is straightforward
  • open source and robust
Since the early versions it's ticked all these boxes and I was very interested to see what OTRS 5 was going to bring. The interface is still the same, updated here and there with a prettier graph showing closed / opened tickets but generally the same. Fonts are still nice and readable and its good for what it does.

We use it for our clients that have a maintenance agreement with us. We have them create tickets that we then update and put minutes against. OTRS has never had a parts component and we have always used a secondary system for that. It does a good job too of keeping tickets together - I can't recommend using the master/slave system enough. Merging tickets has always worked flawlessly too.

The upgrade process is well documented and relatively straightforward. Just be aware of what user you are accessing the system as when you're doing it - sometimes you need to be root and other times it's important to be the OTRS user. All in all, it took about 45 minutes with backups, testing and checking before I let the boys go wild on it.

So while the interface is prettier there are a couple of things that annoy me right off the bat. When I add a note I now have to put something in the title - before it would simply put "Note" in there. Likewise for closing a ticket or changing ownership - this one extra step is annoying because I do it so frequently. Also, we have queues that are underneath a top level queue and that needs to be manually expanded out each time now instead of it sitting out like it always has. Minor annoyances it's true, but annoyances nonetheless.

I suspect most of the changes in the system are in the back end and I'm noticing that it is running more smoothly. We are using a fairly archaic IBM server to host it on an Ubuntu Linux Server platform with about 10K tickets give or take. MySQL is our database of choice and the backups run at around 1 GB in size. Thus far it has all been good. I'm looking forward to seeing how it travels over the next few weeks. I have noticed that the iPhone package is no longer supported - apparently the interface scales with the mobile platform - we will test this further. 

Enjoy :-)

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