Here’s a list of some of the new features that interested me
- The interface has been cleaned up quite a bit from the previous version. There are also a couple of new features such as the ‘Glide’ function, it’s kind of like the iPod artwork browser.
- The network scanning has speed has been improved (see my test results below)
- The detection of devices has been improved.
- Exchange server monitoring. (i think this is particularity cool)
- Whole Environment event charts
- Loads of bug fixes
Scanning Speed and Device Detection Test Results
In my previous blog on Spiceworks 2.0, I did I direct comparison of how fast a network scan completed, and what it managed to find.
Here are the results for the test of Spiceworks 3.0 against Spiceworks 2.0. I used exactly the same server (an average spec dell poweredge server) and scanned the same vlans as before.
|Spiceworks 2||Spicworks 3|
|Total Network Scan Time||34 Mins||20 mins|
|Unknown devices discovered||16||15|
|Total Software recognized||744||709|
As you can see from the results, the scanning speed as improved yet again, shaving almost 15 minutes of Spiceworks 2. It Did find slightly less workstations, but I don’t think that would have added another 15 minutes to the scan time.
All the software it found was valid, and seemed at a quick glance to be accurate.
However, it wasn’t all good news. I’m not sure why but it classed the network devices (3 Cisco routers and 6 POE switches) as unknown. On more careful investigation it knew they were Cisco network devices but it couldn’t tell what sort. I assume there is some authentication problem happening here but i’m not sure what it is.
Now, onto some of the brand new things Spiceworks 3 can do.
The interface, especially the landing page has been cleaned up. You can now customise it quite a bit. It now includes a couple of new widgets about the environment and exchange (more on these later) and the ability to add new tools to the menu on the left.
You can now organise your inventory into your own groups, and then view them using the new ‘glide’ function. This looks a lot like the album artwork browser used in iPods/iTunes. You can use it by hitting the glide button at the top right of the page.
While it looks good, I dont really see the point in it as it’s far quicker to just the conventional methods.
Exchange Server Monitoring:
There is now a new section on the start page that will give you a quick overview of any exchange servers on your network, it will look something like this:
it lets you see at a glance the size of the largest mailboxes on your server, and the amount of load its under. If you look at the exchange server in the inventory you will also get a new section called exchange.
Under her you can get some more info on your server such as some stats on incoming and outgoing mail, along with a list of all the mailbox’s, their sizes, who the account belongs to and who last accessed it.
I did have a slight problem getting the exchange information to come into Spiceworks, the server already existed under the old version, so I had to remove it from the inventory and re-scan. When version 3 re-scanned everything popped in right away.
Environment Charts: As well as the new exchange widget on the landing page, there is also one that will show you some other usful status about your environment, it looks like this:
By default it shows you a chart of the number of events (gathered from the event logs), on a day by day basis. This could be very helpful in spotting if something is going wrong all of a sudden and causing lots of entry’s in your event logs.
As well as the events, you can use the scroll buttons to see other charts such as time spent on helpdesk tickets, network interface top port traffic, breakdown of your operating systems and many more.
Improved Reporting: The inbuilt reporting system has also been given a bit of a facelift. You can now control who can use the reports (not to a particularly fine level though), and you have the ability to share your reports with other people using Spiceworks. To me though, the reporting system still falls a bit short of what it could be, and seems to be a bit under developed compared to the rest of the product.
Helpdesk: This is now better integrated into Exchange, so users can now email there support calls directly into the helpdesk, Spiceworks simply monitors a mailbox for incoming mail. You can also now add custom elements to your helpdesk tickets to better suit it to your business.
There is also a new section that kind of come’s under the helpdesk called IT Services. The idea behind it is you can keep a track of all your hardware and software vendors, and save documentation into Spiceworks. You can also see what other Spiceworks users think of the vendors you are using. Soon bad service wont be able to hide!
So, is it worth installing. Well, I would say yes unless you have quite a bit of money to spend on other products. With each new release the Spiceworks team are basing the new features on user feedback, witch can only be a good thing for the software.
While it might still not be perfect, it is by far and away the best free (well, ad sponsored) integrated network management and helpdesk system out there at the moment. Even if you are in a big enterprise, i would sugest installing it just to see if any of its features can help you. It is free after all.