Spiceworks Review
The stability of the program is remarkably good, but it gets bogged down in an enterprise environment with over 2000 endpoints.


What is most valuable?

Helpdesk and inventory are both equally valuable, and they form the true core of the product.

How has it helped my organization?

I don't have a specific organization at this time. I was a SpiceTrainer, and I helped other organizations deploy and manage their Spiceworks installations. When I began using the product, I was working for a company that had no helpdesk, and it was chaos. I was supposed to support 250 end users, and about 500 endpoints across four states. On my first day, a rainy one, I hadn't even removed my coat before a user was begging for help with a fax application. In less than six months, I had everyone in my division sending tickets and we were handling, on average, about 180 tickets per month. This was a drastic change from “just send an email” type of support and everyone was happier for it.

What needs improvement?

Recently, they deployed a login process that links to their online community. While I understand that change, I don't agree with it. They've also tried to integrate it with social logins, like Twitter and LinkedIn, and that type of login authentication has no place in a corporate application. Resources spent on this social aspect could have been used to fix the existing login to sync with AD for the IT users (it already syncs to AD for end users) and everyone would have been happier. This would have been especially good since Spiceworks has become more and more predominant for enterprise level IT instead of the SMB market that they started with. Taking that in to consideration, I also believe that their new CEO needs to take the application in a new direction and make it enterprise ready with performance and capabilities that can meet that environment. Right now, if you have >2000 endpoints in Spiceworks, you will probably hate using it just because it's so bogged down. I've done installations for clients that were in excess of 5,000 nodes and it's just dreadful. They may be edge cases for Spiceworks, but I see them becoming more prevalent as time wears on, especially if Spiceworks continues to dominate the IT landscape with their community.

For how long have I used the solution?

I started using it in August 2008 when it was v3.1. New versions are released approximately every six months.

What was my experience with deployment of the solution?

As a consultant doing installations professionally, I am almost exclusively hired to handle difficult installations. I work to train the IT group as I'm performing the install(s), and show them how to maintain it so that I'm not just “that Spiceworks guy.” I also do this because I hated it when a contractor would come in, set something up in my environment and then I was expected to maintain it without that contractor having communicated anything to me at all.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability of the program is remarkably good, with some exceptions. As I've noted, any installation in excess of 2500 nodes is going to be slow and it requires some extra work to maintain and configure. If you don't do it right, the application will perform poorly and crash. Similarly, there are plug-ins that you can add (written by IT pros) which may decrease reliability. Overall, however, I think it's very good. I wouldn't say perfect; my test install fails about twice a week and requires a service restart.

How is customer service and technical support?

Customer Service:

Spiceworks support is only surpassed by the baristas at Starbucks. If the support guys were allowed to do call outs, I'm sure they would, and I know they do on certain occasions. Their support is free, just like the application(s), and all email based. They really know the product and when they have a problem they can't fix, it gets logged and you can see the bugs in the community.

Technical Support:

They are very technical, with many of their team having converted from being SysAdmins to doing support. They have to be on the ball; their clients are all IT pros!

Which solutions did we use previously?

I've used SCCM and it sucks. A lot. It took three months to configure/setup, and it didn't provide a good helpdesk solution. SCCM also doesn't manage non-Microsoft endpoints, so switches and routers were not tracked, and it was impossible to get a feel for how big the environment really was. The worst part was deploying an agent from SCCM to all MS endpoints; Spiceworks is agentless.

How was the initial setup?

When I first set Spiceworks up, I did it on my laptop and ran through the wizard, getting the Inventory information done. It took a while to scan so I set it aside. It wasn't until a week later that I came back to it and realized what it had done with the couple of credentials I had supplied. I thought it was just a simple toy because of all the colors and icons, and here it had gathered my warranty information, models, serial numbers and more. That was when I really started digging in to it and began using it. Before the end of that month, users were submitting tickets and I was a happy, organized IT person.

What about the implementation team?

When I deployed, the application was very basic. There were no consultants like me available. The community was small and Spiceworks had one person as their support group. The devs and founders would often respond to threads in the community. I didn't need any help. Now, the application has grown so much that I would highly recommend that any IT department with more than 3 people, or more than 2000 nodes to manage, contact someone like me (there's one other guy in Atlanta that does the same thing I do for Spiceworks consulting) before doing your installation. The training James and I can provide is invaluable and we'll make sure your database doesn't get horked up!

What was our ROI?

The product is free so the ROI is outstanding. The real concern on ROI isn't purchasing the application, or the server(s) it needs to live on. It's the time spent configuring and learning it, especially with some of the new quirks. The man-hours spent on configuration and solving scan errors can be very disheartening to management. To that end, I would say that a modern installation would have a good ROI, about 5/10, though it's possible to raise your ROI if management sends the IT team to a place like Spiceworld (the annual convention in Austin) or contact a SpiceTrainer. There are free “classes” online at www.SpiceworksUniversity.com, and they're great if you can focus on them.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

The product is free! Get it now.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

In addition to SCCM, we [former job] also checked TrackIT and Heat. Their price-point was too high.

What other advice do I have?

If you're a one-man IT shop, or the accidental IT pro (the CEO's cousin that hooked up an Xbox that one time and now you're in charge of 45 users), get some training on the product. Use the free stuff online at the very least. The same goes for the large IT shops with over people in the team. If you're in the latter position, get your company to hire someone to help with the install, especially for those larger environments. You'll be glad you did!

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: I have been a SpiceTrainer since 2011 and I know many of the people that work at HQ as a result of this professional relationship.

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