I have covered Spiceworks in the past and actually not that long ago. But after writing about it, I started using it in an actual production environment and I love it. Version 3.0 was already in the works and, after 2,500 beta testers have gone over it, it has now been officially released. My installation is already up to date.
Spiceworks is a free tool that lets you manage your IT assets, network and helpdesk tickets easily. This new release is certainly very well done, just like the previous version and includes some 1,200 bugfixes and a bunch of new features. Here are a few of them:
- SaaS Inventory Management – new inventory features include the ability to track SaaS services – such as online back-ups or e-mail hosting – which often account for more than 50 percent of IT spendings and are becoming more prevalent as SMBs migrate to “Cloud Computing” services. Inventory items that can be tracked include service costs, related contract dates, help desk tickets, outages, contact information, documents and relevant news.
- Network Glide™ – the new Network Glide™ feature allows users to flip through and view network devices, applications and services with a single click. This not only makes navigation easier but allows IT managers to view more aspects of their networks quickly in a single glance. The network detection capabilities are also improved and allow you to have less “unknown” devices listed.
- IT Services Activity Feeds – allows the history of IT services to be viewed in an activity stream similar to a social networking application news feed. This helps the IT manager stay on top of issues with IT services.
- Report Sharing – users can now create customized reports and share them with other IT managers within the Spiceworks community. Users benefit from access to additional out-of-the-box reports customized to the needs of small business IT pros like them. This feature is one of those that truly work when the community gets involved, and knowing the Spiceworks community, I’d say there should be some interesting sharing going on.
- Microsoft Exchange Monitoring – allows users to monitor their Microsoft Exchange server for up-time status, load, and mailbox capacity usage. In addition it integrates the Spiceworks help desk email functions with Microsoft Exchange.
- Active Directory Support – users can now leverage Active Directory to simplify the authentication and administration of the end-user help desk portal included in Spiceworks. This feature is especially handy if you have and Active Directory to prevent your end-users from having to remember an extra username/password for Spiceworks.
- Third-Party Tool Integration – enables users to launch and view other network and systems management tools from within the Spiceworks user interface, making it easier to perform key IT management tasks.
These are the most important new features in terms of functionnalities, but the most important one overall, to me, is the increased speed of the system. The interface is now 30-40% faster than before, and it shows. This alone makes the upgrade worthwhile, even if you don’t intend on using the new features. Using Spiceworks is even more enjoyable with a responsive interface. Network scanning times have also been cut down, making then 20-40% faster.
Just like the previous version, I highly recommend you give Spiceworks a try if you have to manage any of the things it can help you with. I mostly use the helpdesk features for my trouble tickets, but I have tested all the little features and all of them do exactly as they should. Best of all, Spiceworks is a free download so it’s always a very welcome addition to your IT management toolbox.