Through a Support Task Force (STF) composed of staff members, the UPC has been investigating ways to streamline the User Support process. The overall object of the investigation is to implement a new system which:
Our approach has been to identify existing support systems that, at a minimum, offer features contained in our existing inquiry tracking system and provide key features or facilities to implement key features that the STF has deemed as mandatory in a new system including the ability for the end user to open, modify and close their own inquiry, and comment on support that they have received.
After reviewing approximately 8 helpdesk packages, we decided to bring two in-house for testing:
Of these two packages, Request Tracker (RT) would be the easiest for us to extend. eSupport, on the other hand, already contains virtually all of the features that we now consider to be mandatory in a support system.
Since one of our goals is to move to a package that most helps our community, we will be soliciting input on features, ease of use, and performance for a new version of eSupport over the coming summer. Our intention is to stress test the package live both internally and externally in the soon-to-be-released upgrade to our web site, internally know as Plaza Version 2 (PV2). We will inform the community of the availability of the new support facilities through our usual channels: community email list announcements and the monthly electronic Newsletter.
Above are histograms that portray the number of Unidata email responses for categories of support for a one year period ending March 29, 2005. The histograms are arranged by yearly activity averages with the highest on the left and lowest on the right. Each quarter year within the period is depicted from oldest to newest from left to right. The number of responses has been normalized to weekly averages so that the support load over the various periods can be easily compared.
Total support averaged 145 responses/week over the entire year; 143 for the first quarter; 147 for the second quarter; 143 for the third quarter; and 146 for the current quarter.
Individual support activities included in the categories shown above are listed in the following table.
|Category||Packages, Groups, and Lists|
|idd||gozer, idd, idd-antarctic idd-brazil, idd-caribe, idd-inject, idd-status, suominet, venezuela|
|data||casestudies, casestudies-list, conduit, c2-linda, craft, level2-linda, craft-nws, craft-ty, datastream, difax, level2, level2-ty, noaaport, noaaport-ty|
|netcdf||data-models, netcdf, netcdfgroup-list, netcdf-hdf-list, netcdf-java, netcdf-perl|
|mcidas||mcdevelop, mcidas, mcidas-list|
|dods||dods, dods-core, dods-list, dods-tech|
|outreach||agu-linda, ams-linda, announce, barbados-ty, cbmet-ty, chile-ty, egrants, egy-linda, external, iai-ty, meteoforum-ty, unidata, workshop|
|idv||idv, idvlist, idvsteering, metapps, visad-list|
|utilities||decoders, ldm-mcidas, udunits|
|miscellaneous||misc, license, network, notrack, platforms, wxp, wxp-list|
These numbers and conclusions should not be taken too literally, for several reasons: