Spiceworks 4.5 Review

Posted by beakersoft | Posted in spiceworks | Posted on 08-01-2010

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My post I did some time ago on Spiceworks has recently got quite a bit of attention, so i have decided to check out the latest version (4.5).

I haven’t used Spiceworks since version 2, I was quite impressed with it back then and I know the product has developed quite a lot in that time, so I was hoping it has improved even more. As in the previous post i have done a few timings, and noted what the scanning of the network has managed to find.

This test was completed in a completely different environment than the previous tests, so its not really fair to compare this version with say version 2. Spiceworks was installed to a Dell 1850 server, running windows 2003 with 2gig ram. I scanned 6 subnets in all, containing lots of different devices (pc’s, phones, routers etc). Clients are mainly Dell optiplex’s running Win XP, printers mainly HP.

Test Results

Spiceworks 4.5
Total Network Scan Time 4 hours 15 mins
Total devices discovered 446
Workstations discovered 251
Servers discovered 77
Printers discovered 26
Unknown devices discovered 32
Other devices discovered 60
Total Software recognized 2155
Applications recognized 1123
Services recognized 457
Hotfixes recognized 575

Test Conclusions

Speed
The first thing to hit me was the scanning speed, I had given spiceworks a lot more work do to then in the previous tests, but i was still a little disapointed at the time it took to initially scan the network. There was a lot of kit to find and identify, but it took a little longer than I would have thought

That said, the initial scan is a one of event, and subsequent ones once the majority of devices have been found are nice and fast. I’m not sure if the speed is really that big an issue, I would prefer to sacrifice a bit of scan time to get more accurate results.

Hardware Results
So, did Spiceworks actually manage to identify all the hardware on the network, and work out what it was. For the most part, yes it did. Unless there was a connectivity problem with the machine, it did manage to work out what it was. I correctly identified all the workstations and servers, and managed to extract out the information on the hardware.

It does tend to class most of the network kit as ‘Other Devices’, i’m assuming this is because it cant authorise its self on the device, but i’m not sure, it just seems to see them as http devices. I was going to try and scan a test device, but there is no scanning option to pass a telnet password to a box, even if you could I’m not convinced it would be able to tell what it was

It did however, manage to recognise all the printer correctly, and in most cases it was reporting back information on the status of the device correctly

Software Result
This is one area where I found it difficult to tell if Spiceworks was working right or not, as I dont have an up-to-date list of the software on the machines. To try and test it I picked a couple of machines at random and looked at the software on them, it managed in both cases to get pretty close to what was on the actual box. I like the feature of the software list that tells you the oldest and newest versions of things, this would be very handy if you are rolling out some software and want to make sure everything has got the correct version

Interface and Features
As I have not used Spiceworks since version 2, i’m not sure what is new this version and what has been in for a while. I do like the time line function, it would be nice if it could update in real time but then you would be scanning your network all the time.

The reporting system seems a lot more customizable, as you can now not only decided what you want to see, but organise the columns on the reports as well, and filter down what you want to see. The export options are pritty standard, but I would have expected to see an xml option along with the others. It is missing some advanced reporting features (grouping, custom fields etc.) and has no support for generating graphs, but those are probably not that important.

The network map is a nice idea, but i’m not really sure what use it would be, normally you would probably only be interested in this information for your network kit, and Cisco already have some specific tools to do this.

Summing Up
While the product is not perfect by any means, for a free bit of software you cant really get much better for a small or medium size organisation. The hardware/software inventory is accurate, if a little slow and does seem to struggle with network kit.

The interface is very easy to use, and its easy to customise the dashboard so you can see the information that interests you. The adverts do get in the way a bit sometimes, but you can always pay to get them removed.

All in all this is another very good version, and if your in the market for some network auditing/reporting tools, for the (lack of) price this is one of the best.

Spiceworks 3 has Landed

Posted by beakersoft | Posted in spiceworks | Posted on 14-07-2008

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Spiceworks 3
Hot on the heals of the last version, Spiceworks 3 has been released. You can see a list of the new features at http://spiceworks.com/3.0/ and download it at www.spiceworks.com

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

Accessing the Spiceworks Database – Part 1

Posted by beakersoft | Posted in spiceworks | Posted on 11-03-2008

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Header

When I first started to use Spiceworks, one of my main complaints was that you couldn’t access the data outside of the Spiceworks desktop interface. Well, turns out I was wrong.

I first had my eye’s opened from this thread on the Spiceworks forums. It informed me that it uses a SQLite database to store all its information. So, I asumed getting at the data would be easy. As with most things I was mistaken.

Spiceworks update

Posted by beakersoft | Posted in spiceworks | Posted on 04-03-2008

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Last week a new version of Spiceworks (2.1) was released. You can see the official release note at http://www.spiceworks.com/2.1/, it mainly seems to me like a bug fix release, but there are a couple of new features. Once you run up the console it should download the update for you (as long as you are online of course)

One thing that has caught my attention is they are using feedback from the community to drive the product forwards. According to the press release email, they visited an office in New York and acted on there suggestions. You can also request a feature be added through the feature request forum at http://community.spiceworks.com/forum/1

If you feel like there is something missing from the product get on here and let them know. I am going to log a request now that they open up there database a bit more so you can use external products (Reporting Services, Crystal etc) to pull data out.