Spiceworks 1.7 is another push forward in the short lived, but growing history of the Spiceworks saga. Spiceworks is a group that takes both its product and user base very seriously. The latest build is not feature rich, but it does add new functionality that most admins will appreciate. The leader of the webinar I attended (and head of the group responsible for user feedback), Tony Frey was clear that the focus of this release was usability, not features which will take front stage in the 2.0 release which is expected late December, early January.
Tony’s concern was that users could easily navigate Spiceworks (even novice users) without resorting to a manual which is a goal that Spiceworks has incorporated since day one. In this quest for high speed, low drag however, they have found that users miss some key features (browsing by category) and the goal was to rectify that.
Spiceworks 1.7 has added a ‘start here’ feature. Start here is visible from the main screen within Spiceworks and is designed to educate users on the most basic of features as well as latest functionality developments. Rather than giving the user a .pdf with an FAQ, the start here feature has actual videos that will show the user all the functionality that makes up the Spiceworks application. In as little as seven minutes, a person that has never touched this program will be able to navigate and leverage Spiceworks for all his/her daily needs.
Another benefit of the latest version is the facelift that was given to the community section. It was a place were users could post questions they had about Spiceworks, now it is a one stop community driven helpdesk. Spiceworks users are now welcome to ask any IT question, and one of more than 130,000 members will give them the help they need. In incorporating everything outside of it product, Spiceworks is poised to remain a key player in the Information Technology market for a long time. While the focus was usability there are some new features which could save admins a lot of headaches.
Perhaps one of the most aggravating issues an admin has to deal with is software compliance. Many organizations will use illegally obtained software because, “it was there”. That is no longer acceptable and organizations run the risk of facing large fines as a result. The latest version of Spiceworks will pick up Serial numbers for Microsoft OSes and Office suites. You can now scan your network, and if a machine is running an OS with the wrong serial number you can change it on the fly! The other great feature is the enhanced treatment of unknowns.
Unknowns are issues that Spiceworks finds, but cannot categorize. The example that was shown in the webinar was a wrong ssh password. You can now, enter the correct password, and Spiceworks will automatically scan other unknowns to see if the fix applied (in this case the correct password) will as resolve other unknowns.
I first wrote an article on Spiceworks several months ago http://www.ethicalhacker.net/content/view/104/24/
As I stated before, I am not affiliated with them in anyway, but I really like their product and find its use to be indispensable. If you haven’t tried it yet, I highly recommend taking it for a spin; most likely you will wonder why you didn’t start using Spiceworks sooner.