Anyone who has had to administer a network of users, hardware, and software knows the headache it can become. If your infrastructure, and the administration of that infrastructure, isn’t set up well, you can be in for a nightmare. Well, I came across SpiceWorks network management tool probably six months ago and have just now gotten around to installing it. And I’ve been pleasantly surprised by it on numerous fronts.
First off, Spiceworks is very easy to download and install. Afterwards, Spiceworks walks you through a painless registration process that includes a login username and password. Spiceworks includes a web server with the tool. That way, you can open it up from anywhere on the network. And then you go about scanning the network for devices. It will automatically classify workstations, servers, printers, networking hardware, etc. It runs in the background and you can view the results. It autodetects the network segment and goes about its business. Keep in mind that you need login rights to the machines to be able to do a thorough scan.
The scan detected my laptops, workstations, printers, network devices, etc. And it showed the make and model of the computers. It told me the OS, the installed software, and whether the anti virus was out of date. I could view the unused disk space, processor speed, amount of ram, etc. I could see what software was installed, what services were running, and what hotfixes had been installed. And I could attach notes to the device. And all this is provided into a really nice interface that is easy to read. And you can remote desktop to the machine right from the management console. Very ,very nice.
The help desk allows users to submit tickets about issues. From there you can view assets allocated to that user and easily troubleshoot and get any information you need. It’s tightly connected with the network inventory manager so there’s no need to key in information that’s already there. I bet you can relate to that if you’ve ever done tech support – it stinks. The Help Desk has a user portal where they can enter tickets as necessary. They use an email address to submit their requests. All you have to do is enter the server information for the email server to start communicating. Tickets will show up in the help desk que and technicians can grab them out of the que. You can update users via email quickly and easily.
Here is another helpful feature. This is the list of default reports:
Computers w/o Anti-Virus
Computers with Anti-Virus
Fixed Assets Schedule
Low Disk Space
Network Adapters Summary
Printers and Copiers
Services on Computers
Tickets by Device
That’s a great list of standard reports to help you manage your network. And the tool has a nice report generation feature that will allow almost anyone to create new reports as necessary. Again, that’s a nice touch.
The dasboard features most of the typical views that are most helpful. You see unassigned help desk tickets, alerts, new hardware that’s been added this week, new software, education, IT news, MS security bulletins, and Spiceworks News. And you can customize this at will. The admin tool will scan the network intermittently to pick up any new devices. It will give you alerts about low space, printer ink, anti virus, software update, etc.
This is an outstanding piece of software. It gives you what you want to see in an easy to use package. It dovetails help desk functionality with asset allocation in a way that makes sense. I am curious, however, to see how this scales and performs on very large networks. But I have no doubt that for small and medium sized companies this could work wonders. I think Spiceworks is looking to make their money from IT related products and ad revenue. That’s because, amazingly, this software is free. If you are involved in managing a small or medium sized network, I would run to their site and test it. It’s that good.