No. But, without Service Desk, your clients will need to be JIRA users to see and update issues, and each user counts towards your licence limits.
Service desk presents the clients with a simplified interface and no direct access to the issues. But "customer" accounts are free, you only pay for the agents.
Technically jira-cloud is already facing the web, so the customer could use that. JSD is mainly made do hide some functionality from JIRA towards customers and create a more minimalistic interface when opening tickets, but this can also be achieved by restricting customers access with permissions in JIRA. So no, no need for JSD but in some cases it might be desirable. I would say it depends on how techy your customers are.
If you have thousands of customers, having JIRA Service Desk will be cheaper for you.
If your service desk process is already very mature and your service desk area really work hard on complying with SLAs, JIRA Service is a very useful tool.
If none of the above applies to you, then you can perfectly start without it.
I have multiple projects that use variations of the same base workflow. The variations depend on the requirements of the project or issue type. The variations mostly come in the form of new statuses ...
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