Network management, monitoring, help desk, software reporting, and PC inventory for small and medium sized businesses - all of this for free? Believe it. Spiceworks is taking IT departments by storm. Its IT community of 850,000 strong in 196 countries is quickly becoming the Facebook for IT managers. Along with the inventory, monitoring, and reporting tools in the software, this formidable group provides a wealth of troubleshooting support. How does this company provide such a robust management solution for free? Well, for starters, the software is ad-supported, but that's not its only source of revenue. Spiceworks recently obtained a sizable investment from several venture capital firms. They see the potential ubiquity that Spiceworks could gain in IT departments worldwide.
The company was formed in early 2006 and resides in Austin, Texas. Spiceworks' desktop suite allows IT departments to manage "everything IT". It provides a network map that visualizes every computer and network device on an IT network including their relationships and bandwidth consumption. The software also includes an integrated help desk system to communicate with IT departments around the globe. Spiceworks is written in Ruby on Rails and it currently runs on Windows only. However, it can discover machines with any operating system as well as other IP-addressable devices. Today, more than 25% of all businesses consisting of over 100 employees use Spiceworks to manage some part of their IT operations.
Spiceworks Network Map
Here is the current feature list for Spiceworks
- Network Map (Beta)
- Helpdesk with user portal
- Plugins and Reports
- Scan SNMP Devices
- Linux Scanning via an SSH login
- Scan Windows Devices via WMI
- Alerts on customizable definitions (e.g. machines with no anti-virus or low printer toner)
- Ability to manage your software licenses
- Ability to define custom devices
- Ability to compare one machine with another
- Software automatically categorizes machines into groups (e.g. Laptops, servers, routers, etc.)
Significant growth in the Spiceworks user-base has given rise to the most valuable tool in its solution - the community. With over 850k IT professionals available through a help desk and forurm, troubleshooting and support questions should never go unanswered. Users can also vote on the features they want to see in the next version of Spiceworks. The community votes on the "spiciness" of a thread by clicking on a chili pepper if they like the feature. When Spiceworks took out the chili pepper icon, there was quickly a new feature request to bring it back and it's been there ever since.
Spiceworks help desk
Spiceworks is currently in version 4.5. Recent enhancements include speed improvements, Windows Event ID collaboration, Solaris support, HTML email templates, and SSL support. Version 4.5 is no longer compatible with Internet Explorer 6. Spiceworks recently added a number of new plugins and widgets. The plugins can keep track of alerts, tickets, new hardware and software, and inventory summaries. Themes and user portals are also customizable. News widgets let users draw in RSS feeds and social networking widgets that connect to Facebook, Twitter, Digg, and MySpace.
Recently Spiceworks proved that it is a force to be reckoned with in the IT world. The company raised $16 million in Series C funding. Venture capital firms such as Institutional Venture Partners, Austin Ventures, and Shasta Ventures also made major contributions, bringing the startup's total funding to $29 million. This massive injection of capital can only lead to more improvements to the Spiceworks platform. Look for Spiceworks to gain even higher popularity in 2010.