Network Associates Introduces XML Helpdesk Tool

The helpdesk is the most important link in keeping end users happy with the IT department. Helpdesks often rely on software to manage the stream of problems flowing through their offices. Magic Solutions (, a division of Network Associates Inc., now gives the helpdesk greater flexibility through XML with the new release of Magic Total Service Desk.

Like other helpdesk applications, Magic Total Service Desk aids user support by creating, tracking, and documenting trouble tickets, thus giving support staff an idea of what problems need to be solved within the enterprise. By maintaining a database of problems, a knowledge base is formed that will help in the development of procedures for recurring problems.

The application uses a Web interface that lets end users create tickets through their browser, and enables IT workers to access information across a network. "Magic Total Service Desk is 100 percent Web-enabled, giving access to the full application through the browser," says Michael Callahan, director of product management at Magic Solutions.

The use of XML enables the integration from back end to interface and allows custom configuration of database categories through a drag and drop interface. Rather than using middleware or a standalone application, "It’s architected from the ground up to be browser-based," says Phillip Mendoza, an analyst at IDC (

Because it is browser-based, helpdesk personnel can access trouble tickets or the knowledge base from any machine with a browser, giving them access to information from anywhere within the enterprise. If a staffer is working on an end-user’s machine, he or she can consult the database to learn procedures or check the next ticket.

The helpdesk tool is targeted at smaller IT departments, and, "You need Microsoft end-to-end," Mendoza says. Users with large heterogeneous networks will probably not benefit from the software.

Magic Total Service Desk, however, does offer automation features often found in higher-end solutions. For example, "If a virus is detected, it automatically creates a trouble ticket," Mendoza explains. Additionally, a network problem that will affect several machines creates only one ticket, rather than a ticket for each affected machine.

In addition to Magic Solutions, Network Associates has McAfee, Sniffer, and PGP divisions known for virus, network monitoring, and security tools. Network Associates independently brands these products, but they are integrated, allowing them to act together as a complete network solution and extending the automation of Magic.

In addition to corporate support departments, Network Associates plans to market Magic Total Service Desk to management service providers (MSP), a new breed of outsourced helpdesk providers.

MSPs offer network management expertise for small to medium-sized businesses, sparing them the cost of an internal IT department. A Web-based ticketing tool is ideal for a business dealing with many machines at remote locations.