Yeah. It's pretty much impossible to un-tie any of our own internal stuff from the over "DreamHost Code". Plus, while I was pretty heavily involved in the coding of the current support system, I have to admit that from the CSR point-of-view there are a lot of things that could/should be done differently. It's better than 90% of the similar stand-alone packages, but (IMHO) that's not saying much.
I am indeed developing something along these lines, which (at some point) will be a commercial product that I will sell independently. It's not ready yet, though, and - due to some other commitments - it'll probably take until spring/summer of next year before it is released.
I'm writing it in PHP with a MySQL back-end. The mail parser is written in Perl. It's actually pretty close to completion, but needs a bit more polish/QA and some better documentation. I'm one of those guys who is afraid to release stuff unless it's perfect, so it takes me forever to get around to it. :>
And no, I'm not going to be spamming this forum about it when released, either. While I'd love to bundle it with certain plans in the future (assuming I can persuade my Marketing/Honcho friends that it's in DH's best interests! :>), it is very much a non-DreamHost thing.
In the process of researching the competition, though, I have looked at a LOT of help desk software, and have a lot of experience using our own to compare it to. The first thing you'll notice is that there are a ton of very, very bad programs out there - and many are overpriced. Be very careful to compare and contrast, and - while feature lists are important - pay more attention to user interface design and usability. This is software that you're going to be using a lot, and UI efficiency is extremely important (pay particular attention to how easy it is to move from one message to the next, as well as the handling of most common tasks).
The one you mention (Cerberus) actually looks pretty good to me - and seems fairly priced. I've also dropped into their discussion forum a few times in the past, and they seem pretty responsive to requests/bug reports. I haven't tried installing their software or anything myself, but if I weren't coding my own and needed such a product I would probably give them serious consideration.
Here are some links to sites which may help you compare alternatives:
While these sites are geared toward web hosting companies in general, they have sections geared toward tools often used by web hosts - including help desk software.
Hope this helps.
- Jeff @ DreamHost
- DH Discussion Forum Admin