Chapter 1. OTRS::ITSM - OTRS for IT service management

Table of Contents

New OTRS::ITSM 6 features
New OTRS::ITSM 5 features
New OTRS::ITSM 4 features
New OTRS::ITSM 3.3 features
New OTRS::ITSM 3.2 features
New OTRS::ITSM 3.1 features
New OTRS::ITSM 3.0 features
New OTRS::ITSM 2.1 features
New OTRS::ITSM 2.0 features
New OTRS::ITSM 1.3 features
New OTRS::ITSM 1.2 features
New OTRS::ITSM 1.1 features
OTRS::ITSM 1.0 features
Hardware and software requirements
Mailing lists

IT is expected to consistently deliver high service quality in an increasingly complex field. In this context, effective and efficient incident and problem management are indispensable. However, IT service management remains a task almost impossible if there is no consistent and up-to-date database with information about the state and configuration of the IT infrastructure.

The IT Infrastructure Library®, short ITIL®, is a series of books published by the United Kingdom's Office of Government Commerce (OGC), which generically combine best practice approaches to designing, providing, operating and managing IT services. ITIL does not focus on the technology but the services provided by the IT and comprises information on processes, roles, responsibilities, potential problem fields/resolutions, and definitions of terms.

ITIL has established itself as de facto standard over the past years and its circulation in IT organizations has contributed considerably to the development of a collective awareness and consistent terminology for IT service management. However, ITIL only describes "who should do what" and what should be considered along the way. In order to cover as wide a user group as possible, it does not or to a little extent address the issue of how to do things. Therefore, no implementable information is given for particular industries, companies, or manufacturers.

In December 2005, the ITIL based ISO/IEC 20000 industry standard for IT service management was published. IT organizations can apply for ISO/IEC 20000 certification and prove their conformity.

The continuing boom caused demand for IT service management tools, which could represent the ITIL-based processes. So far, only proprietary solutions existed. Because of their considerable complexity, most of these tools are only affordable for large companies and effective in large IT departments.

The development of OTRS::ITSM was started as a result of the great success of the OTRS framework in order to combine the globally accepted, public ITIL recommendations with the benefits of open-source software.

OTRS::ITSM 1.0 was the first real-world ITIL compliant IT service management solution on open-source basis, built on the solid basis of OTRS with its over 55,000 known OTRS installations and its community (information dating from April 2007). OTRS::ITSM is under active development and new features are added continuously.

OTRS::ITSM is practically-oriented. This was accomplished by developing it in collaboration with ITIL consultants and with some of OTRS Groups' customers.

The service-desk and ticket system solution OTRS is the basis for the ITIL compliant IT service management solution OTRS::ITSM, its incident management, problem management, service level management, change and configuration management modules, and integrated CMDB.

OTRS::ITSM and OTRS are freely available (no license fees apply) and are subject to GNU Affero General Public License (AGPL).


OTRS::ITSM 6 is based on OTRS 6. All functionalities known from OTRS continue to be available and the functionalities representing ITIL processes can be installed as packages.

New OTRS::ITSM 6 features

OTRS::ITSM 6 offers:

  • Ported code to the OTRS 6 framework.

  • Added new feature for ITSMConfigurationManagement to suppress adding a new config item version for special attributes.

  • OTRS::ITSM 6 includes many other small bug fixes and improvements.

New OTRS::ITSM 5 features

OTRS::ITSM 5 offers:

  • Ported code to the OTRS 5 framework.

  • OTRS::ITSM 5 includes many other small bug fixes and improvements.

New OTRS::ITSM 4 features

OTRS::ITSM 4 offers:

  • Ported code to the OTRS 4 framework.

  • New powerful template engine based on Template::Toolkit

  • A central object manager makes creating and using global objects much easier.

  • OTRS::ITSM 4 includes many other small bug fixes and improvements.

  • All OTRS::ITSM 4 translations will be now managed exclusively via Transifex: Please sign up for a free translators login on and join one of the language teams if you want to contribute to OTRS::ITSM.

  • Improved and more flexible incident state link propagation. It is now possible to add more than one link type for the incident state calculation, as well to define the link direction for each link type. (Take a look at the sysconfig option "ITSM::Core::IncidentLinkTypeDirection")

  • GenericInterface for ITSM Configuration Management. This feature contains operations for creating, changing, retrieving and searching configuration items via GenericInterface.

  • Bulk actions for ITSM Configuration Management. This feature provides a screen to perform certain actions over a selection of ITSM Configuration Items.

  • New color flag for the "deployment state" in ITSM Configuration Management. This feature adds a flag column to the Configuration Item Overviews with the color of the Deployment State, it also adds a color picker to the General Catalog to define the color preference of each Deployment State.

  • Dynamic fields for ITSM Change Management. The freetext fields for changes and workorder have been migrated to more flexible dynamic fields.

  • Improved and easier handling of templates for changes, workorders and change advisory boards (CAB). It is now easier to edit a template by selecting it from the template overview. A new change or workorder will be created, which can then be edited and saved back in to the same template, while the change or workorder will be deleted after it has been saved.

New OTRS::ITSM 3.3 features

OTRS::ITSM 3.3 offers:

  • Ported code to the OTRS 3.3 framework.

  • Integrated Feature AddOn "OTRSServiceIncidentState" into OTRS::ITSM. It shows the current incident state of a selected service in the ticket zoom, and in all agent frontends where a service can be selected (can be disabled on a per screen basis).

  • Integrated Feature AddOn "OTRSCIColumns" into OTRS::ITSM. This feature makes it possible to configure the shown CI-Attributes individually for each ConfigItem class. This is possible for the CI-Overview, the CI-Search-Overview and the Linked-CI view in the agent interface.

  • Integrated Feature AddOn "OTRSWorkOrderTimeDependency" into OTRS::ITSM. If this feature is enabled and you change the planned end date of a workorder, all following workorders will also be moved accordingly, so that the time differences between the workorders will still be the same.

  • Integrated Feature AddOn "OTRSCIAttributeSyntaxCheck" into OTRS::ITSM. This feature makes it possible to check the syntax of CI attributes with a regular expression while adding or editing CIs via the agent interface (not while importing CIs with the Import/Export module). CI attributes of the type "Text" and "TextArea", as well as the CI name can be checked with individual regular expressions. An individual error message is shown if the attribute does not match the defined pattern. With this feature it can be enforced that for example a CI attribute must start with "ABC" or must end with a number.

  • Added new feature "WorkOrder Report Attachments" into OTRS::ITSM. This feature adds support for attachment uploads in the workorder report screen.

  • The toolbar icons now use an icon font which makes it easier to create custom skins with different base colors.

  • Migrated ITSMCriticality and ITSMImpact values from general catalog to dynamic fields. Renamed ITSM related dynamic fields to nicer names, prefixed with ITSM.

  • In ITSMChangeManagement the frontends to create changes / workorders have been splitted in 2 screens each. One to create a new change / workorder from scratch, and one to create it from a template.

New OTRS::ITSM 3.2 features

OTRS::ITSM 3.2 offers:

  • Ported code to the OTRS 3.2 framework.

  • Enhanced Import/Export screen to show a summary after importing.

  • Added attachment support for ITSM config items.

  • Added new optional sysconfig option to check if config item names are unique.

New OTRS::ITSM 3.1 features

OTRS::ITSM 3.1 offers:

  • Ported code to the OTRS 3.1 framework.

  • Added caching to speed up the condition / action backends in change management.

  • Added possibility to use a mirror database for change and workorder searches in change management.

New OTRS::ITSM 3.0 features

OTRS::ITSM 3.0 offers:

  • Brand New Interface - OTRS 3.0 Look & Feel

  • Ported code to the OTRS 3.0 framework.

  • New Generic Search Dialogs.

  • New Search result types (Print, PDF and CSV).

New OTRS::ITSM 2.1 features

OTRS::ITSM 2.1 offers:

  • Change Management

    Improved speed of Change Management and GeneralCatalog by implementing caching technology.

    New powerful FreeText fields for Changes and Workorders in Change Management.

    Implemented an option to reset the change and workorder states while saving as template.

    New alternative checksum generator for the change number.

    New option to show workorder title and workorder state in the change zoom timeline.

New OTRS::ITSM 2.0 features

OTRS::ITSM 2.0 offers:

  • Change Management

    The new OTRS::ITSM package "ITSMChangeManagement" implements the ITIL discipline Change Management.

New OTRS::ITSM 1.3 features

OTRS::ITSM 1.3 is based on OTRS 2.4

It offers the same features as OTRS::ITSM 1.2, but runs on the OTRS 2.4 framework.

New OTRS::ITSM 1.2 features

OTRS::ITSM 1.2 is based on OTRS 2.3

OTRS::ITSM 1.2 offers:

  • Modularization

    From now on the additional ITSM packages covering single ITIL disciplines like incident management / problem management, configuration management, service level management, can be installed independently from one another. To you as a user, that means that you neither have to install the packages in a certain installation order nor do you have to install them all in order to use OTRS::ITSM.

  • Reduced reloads

    ITSM functionalities (e. g. priority calculation based on a tickets impact) have been reimplemented in AJAX technology to reduce necessary reloads. This leads to an increased speed using OTRS::ITSM.

  • Joint Link-Object mechanism

    OTRS::ITSM 1.1 and lower releases were designed based on an own extended Object-Link mechanism. As a consequence, the Object-Link functionality of OTRS couldn't be used in OTRS::ITSM. A joint Object-Link mechanism has now been implemented, which covers all of the features from both former Link object mechanisms.

  • Improved speed

    Changing database access technology to using SQL bind parameters made it possible to access the Configuration Items (CI) database faster than previously.

  • Locations

    Locations are no longer a separate menu item. They are now integrated into the Configuration Items, which will bring a sustainable gain in flexibility.

  • SLA-Service multi-assignments

    It is now possible to assign a SLA to multiple Services.

  • SLA Overview

    In the service menu, there is now a new SLA overview mask.

  • Refresh-Mechanism

    A refresh mechanism was added to refresh the service overview and the config item overview screens automatically.

New OTRS::ITSM 1.1 features

OTRS::ITSM 1.1 offers:

  • Authorization concept

    Each object like Service/SLA, Location, CI, Linkobject now creates a corresponding group, so the agents rights can be assigned with more granularity.

  • Allocation of services to customers

    Services can be assigned to authorized customers. Further more, services may be assigned as general 'default services' which are valid to use for each customer.

  • Service/CI view

    A view on services and CIs, including information on each object's current state, allows you to analyze an incident and calculate the incident's impact on affected services and customers. As an enhancement of the service view, now SLAs and linked CIs are also displayed. For each CI, the current incident state is shown. In addition, the incident state will be propagated for dependent SLAs and CIs. If a service is selected, the service details will be shown, now with the additional 'current incident state', which is calculated from the incident states of dependent services and CIs.

    CIs are now enhanced with a 'current incident state', which includes two state types:

    • Operational

    • Incident

    For each state type, any number of states can be registered. The state of a CI affects the service state, which will be dynamically calculated, and can have one of the following three values:

    • Operational (green)

    • Warning (yellow)

    • Incident (red)

    The propagation of the incident state will be carried out if CIs are linked with the link type 'depend on'. Here the following rules apply:

    • If a CI is dependent on another CI, which is in the state 'Incident', the dependent CI gets the state 'Warning'.

    • If a service is dependent on CIs, and one of these CIs has a state 'Incident', the service will also get the state 'Incident'.

    • If a service is dependent on CIs, and one of these CIs has the state 'Warning', the service will also get the state 'Warning'.

    • If a service has sub-services, and one of these services has the state 'Incident', the parent service will get the state 'Warning'.

    • If a service has sub-services, and one of these services has the state 'Warning', the parent service will get the state 'Warning'.

    The states of the respective services, sub-services, and CIs will be shown in the view.

  • CI search and linking from agent interface

    A service agent may search, select, and assign any of a customer's configuration items (CIs) or existing tickets while recording a new incident ticket.

  • CMDB Import/Export (CSV and API)

    This feature offers the possibility to import or update data from CSV files into the CMDB of OTRS::ITSM, and to export data from the CMDB to CSV files. Each line of the CSV file describes one CI, with the data of the CI in the columns.

    The import and export is controlled with ImEx definitions. These definitions map the columns of the CSV file to the fields in the CMDB. You can create an ImEx definition via the admin interface in OTRS. For each available field in the CMDB, the corresponding column in the CSV file needs to be defined. This is done in a form, which represents the current CI definition. Also, a filter can be applied, to limit the number of the exported CIs. Any number of ImEx definitions can be stored in the system, and each definition can be used for import and for export.

    To start an import (exports work the same way), two possibilities exist: interactive with the web interface, or automatically with a script. Using the interactive way, the desired ImEx definition is selected, and then the CSV file is uploaded to the system. During the interactive export, the CSV file will be offered for download respectively.

    The automatic import is carried out via a script, which requires the name of the ImEx definition and the name of the CSV file as arguments. During the script based export, the CIs that were given the script as arguments will be saved in a CSV file. Before the execution of the import or export, the selected ImEx definition will be compared with the current CI definition. If inconsistencies are found, the process will be cancelled. Also, during import, restrictions in the CI definition (e.g. mandatory fields) will be checked. If applicable, the data record is rejected, but the import process continues. An import protocol can be found in the syslog. Via the API the CSV based import/export can be replaced or enhanced by other formats/transports, like direct database access or XML. The implementation of the CSV interface can be used as a reference.

  • A huge variety of additional reports has been created, e.g.:

    Basic reports for tickets and configuration items (CIs):

    • Total of all tickets ever created per ticket-type and priority (state, queue, service).

    • Monthly overview of all tickets ever created of a previous month per ticket-type (priority, state, queue, service).

    • Total of created tickets in a defined period per ticket-type and priority (state, queue, service).

    • Total of all open tickets per ticket-type and priority (queue, service).

    • Total of all configuration items (CIs) created per class (per state).

    • Total of all configuration items (CIs) created in a previous month per class (per state).

    • Total of all configuration items (CIs) created in a defined period per class (per state).

    Many more reports have been added which provide specific data regarding first time solution rate and average resolution time:

    • First time solution rate of all tickets ever created per ticket-type and priority (queue, service).

    • First time solution rate in a previous month per ticket-type (priority, queue, service).

    • First time solution rate in a defined period per ticket-type and priority (queue, service).

    • Average resolution time of all tickets ever created per ticket-type and priority (queue, service).

    • Average resolution time in a previous month per ticket-type and priority (queue, service).

    • Average resolution time in a defined period per ticket-type and priority (queue, service).

  • Added print function for CIs, Services, SLAs, Locations.

OTRS::ITSM 1.0 features

OTRS::ITSM 1.0 offers:

  • ITIL compliant representation of "service support" processes

    • incident management

    • problem management

    • configuration management

  • an integrated, individually extensible configuration management database (CMDB)

  • ITIL compliant names for new functions

  • ITIL compliant role, responsibility, and permission model

  • cross-process communication management: within the IT service organization, with customers/users/management and suppliers/providers

  • flexible stats functions for (trend) analyses; reporting, planning, and controlling based on performance figures

  • flexible configuration, customization, and upgrade to meet individual requirements

  • native ticket types are supported (integrated in OTRS): Various ticket types can be managed in the admin interface. Free-text fields are therefore no longer needed to specify ticket types. Installations using free-text fields for ticket type classification do not have to be migrated. The new feature is also shown in the ticket content and in the print view for agents and customers and can be adjusted in the agent interface.

Configuration management & integrated CMDB:

OTRS::ITSM is based on an integrated configuration management data base (CMDB), which serves as the foundation for the comprehensive control of the service management processes. It represents the configuration items (CI), their complex relationships, and interdependencies with each other and with other components of the service chain.

  • Comprehensive recording and management of ITSM relevant configuration items (CIs) such as computers, hardware, software, networks, documents and services, SLAs, and organizational structures

  • Illustration of the IT service catalog and agreements in force (SLA, OLA, UC)

  • Recording, management, and illustration of technical and service related relationships and interdependencies among CMDB data, e.g. a service with all necessary, alternative or relevant CIs

  • Management of historic, current, and future CI states, e.g. for problem diagnosis, server maintenance or planned changes

  • Analysis of the potential impact of service failures or configuration changes

  • Display of virtualized IT infrastructures, e.g. server / memory virtualization

  • Software license management, e.g. licenses available / in use (third party products required)

  • Chronological life cycle management for CIs, from acquisition to disposal

  • Reporting of all configuration changes performed on CMDB data

  • Interface to company directories (e.g. LDAP, eDirectory, Active Directory)

Incident management:

  • Services and SLAs (integrated in OTRS): The new attributes "service" and "service level agreements (SLA)" were integrated in OTRS 2.2 on its way to becoming an IT service management tool. When creating a ticket, the customer can select a service (e.g. e-mail service) and a corresponding SLA. SLA attributes are "response time", "update time" and "solution time". IT service can use these attributes for notifications or ticket escalation in order to meet existing SLAs. Service and SLA specific information in the header of new e-mails can be analyzed as usual with the PostMaster filter module.

  • Comprehensive support of IT service support organization processes with incident recording, classification, prioritization, direct help (1st level support), diagnosis, coordination (2nd/3rd level support, external partners etc.), service recovery, resolution, closure and documentation

  • Incidents and service requests can be recorded quickly and intuitively by service desk staff and users (web self-service)

  • Rule-based ticket generation and/or notification, e.g. in interaction with IT monitoring systems

  • Classification and prioritization options (priority, impact, urgency)

  • Complete CMDB coverage, e.g. services affected by the incident, configuration items concerned, FAQ database, link-up between tickets and CIs for analyses and reporting

  • (Automatic) recording of "articles" for tickets (activity record)

  • Constant monitoring and evaluation of the ticket processing progress

  • Complete integration of OTRS role, group and queue mechanisms for incident ticket allocation, tracking, escalation and interpretation

  • Provision and storage of relevant time data, e.g. for service level management

  • Practical ticket handling (merge, split), allows to merge similar incidents and/or split complicated ones

  • Planning, proactive control, and monitoring of service request activities (work packages, work plans, service lead times, due dates)

  • Generation and tracking of problem tickets from incidents

Problem management:

  • Comprehensive support of IT organization processes in problem identification, recording, classification, prioritization, problem origin diagnosis, resolution coordination, e.g. workaround or request for change, closure, and documentation

  • Provision of relevant information for subprocesses

    • Problem control (trouble-shooting),

    • Error control (error processing),

    • Proactive problem management (e.g. ticket trend analyses) and

    • Management information (on incidents, problems and known errors)

  • Current/historic incidents, knowledge base (FAQs), and CMDB are constantly available

  • Complete integration of OTRS role, group and queue mechanisms to allocate, track, escalate and evaluate incident tickets

  • Systematic automated notifications on the problem resolution progress for users (user groups) concerned or the management

  • Incident management receives ready signal for resolved problems

Tickets are central information containers for IT service process management: They transport multiple possible underlying data such as:

  • Persons, organizations

  • Time stamp

  • Priority, impact, severity

  • Associations to IT service catalog and projects

  • Activities, e.g. note about a call with time accounting

  • Objects, e.g. CIs, including relations

  • (Sub)Tickets, e.g. a problem with the underlying incidents

  • Notes and attachments, e.g. scanned service request forms

  • Work packages, i.e. planned, allocated tasks

  • SLA information

  • Thresholds and escalation data

  • Ticket history (all changes)

  • Accounting information (time accounting).