OTRS Screenshot

If your software is giving you trouble, there are some open source options available to help ease your pain – without the high cost.

In this installment of CIOÙs four open source applications to watch we take a look at help desk software, which is the basis of incident response and IT service delivery.

This list presents fourth solutions that fits well for a small / medium Software Editor / IT Company. All the solutions are based and licence-free.

OTRS Community Edition

OTRS exists in two versions : a SAAS/On Premise one, that is closed-source and the community edition. The community evolves slower than the commercial product but at the same times benefits of the community contributions.

OTRS Screenshot
OTRS Screenshot

OTRS (Open source Ticket Request System) has features to manage customer telephone calls and e-mails. The system is built to allow support, sales, pre-sales, billing, internal IT and help desk functions to quickly to inbound inquiries. OTRS is a Web-based help desk and ticket system that provides a set of features to help service organisations to manage requests more efficiently. As a framework, it is the basis of OTRS::ITSM, an ITIL-compliant IT service solution. It supports MySQL, MS SQL, PosgreSQL, Oracle and DB2.

Pros : the biggest set of functionalities. Stable and mature.

Cons : Cumbersome and complex UI, looking old. The configuration and the settings requires an important amount of time before being adapted to the company. Too many features for a small company. Java Stack, not so cost-effective for a cloud installation.

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Zammad is a web based open source /customer support system with many features to manage customer communication via several channels like telephone, facebook, twitter, chat and e-mails. It is distributed under version 3 of the GNU AFFERO General Public License (GNU AGPLv3).

Zammad Screenshot
Zammad Screenshot

Pros : The solution is really easy to deploy (using ). The best UI/UX of the three solutions, user friendly. The search functionality is working fine. LDAP is supported.

Cons : The solution is resource consuming (thanks to Elasticsearch Database engine) : expects a certain volume or RAM and Disk to launch the solution. Administration and backup is not easy to perform.



OS Ticket is an old and well-known stable open-source helpdesk solution.

OSTicket screenshot

Thousands of customers in over 190 countries trust and use osTicket for customer support.

  • 5+ million osTicket users worldwide
  • 15,000+ businesses use osTicket worldwide
  • osTicket seamlessly routes inquiries created via email, web-forms and API.
  • Simple and easy-to-use web-based customer support platform.
  • osTicket comes packed with more features and than most of the expensive (and complex) support ticket systems on the market.
  • The best part is that osTicket is completely free.

Pros : popular, a big community. Huge set of functionalities and multiple communication channels supported. Cost effective technology stack.

Cons : UI/UX is not attractive. The enterprise solution is keeping some interesting functionalites out the open-source solution. The LDAP configuration is clunky / not so easy.



Hesk is Free PHP Help Desk Software that runs with a MySQL database. It allows you to setup a web based ticket support system (helpdesk) for your website. Once the Help Desk Software is installed your customers will be able to submit support tickets and staff will have an easy-to-use web interface to manage customer support requests.

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The LAMP stack offers to a small company, an easy solution to deploy and administer. The main functionalities may be sufficient but as the company will grow, it will be faced with the lack of features offered by the paid version.

Hesk : screenshot
Hesk : screenshot

Pros : LAMP Stack, average UI/UX interface;

Cons : Lack of professional features, user community not so wide.  The PAID version is stealing the best functionalities of the product (SysAid)



By Sylvain Leroy

Senior Software Quality Manager and Solution Architect in Switzerland, I have previously created my own company, Tocea, in Software Quality Assurance. Now I am offering my knowledges and services in a small IT Consulting company : Byoskill and a website www.byoskill.com Currently living in Lausanne (CH)

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