The first Spiceworks 5.1 beta was released around a week ago and the second beta has just been released so its time I got a review of what’s new and coming up for the people who are unable to install it but want to see what its all about.
5.1 has around 14 new major features and countless minor ones we also finally say good bye to the old user portal and template per event email notifications.
Bit of a side-track but a cool story around the email notifications… The HTML email templates wasn’t ever a major feature request it was something one of the SpiceHeads came up with at a user event, one of the developers then went back to Spiceworks HQ and built it into the version of Spiceworks at the time. It was something that had not been previously thought off but has now provided so many user’s with the flexibility on the information included and design that would have been a bottle neck of the helpdesk for so many users. The way that a user can mention something that no one has thought about but would make the application that little bit better, for then a developer to go off on his own and built it is what makes it so successful. Unofficial Spiceworks even made some alternative templates for people to use. Anyywaaaayyy back onto the review I think…
For a minor version release (a major version for Spiceworks is .0 or .5) its packed full of new features and some of them aren’t that small. One of the big ones I’m excited about is the “Multithreading Support” so lets dive straight in with that:
A major bottleneck for previous versions has been the single threading for the database and webserver, each users request would stack up behind another user’s and the webserver could end up becoming unresponsive or very slow. The updates to the webserver and database mean that more user’s can work on tickets, the inventory or the people view at one time.
If you have more than one user or are a power user you should see major speed improvements, if like me its just you that normally uses it then you probably wont see any difference but will allow you to grow or multitask better.
Ink and Toner Center Widget Updated
Built into 5.0 the widget now has a new trending feature, which once there is enough data you can click a new “analyse link” to view a graph of the changes. This could and will prove useful when trying to track when toners are used the most so that you can build up a in house stock or simple working out when all the toner disappeared to track who may have used it.
Google Aps Integration
I don’t have Google apps for business so can’t comment on how well it works but its based on the same lines as the recent RackSpace integration you are able to check and even report on your users and mailboxes setup within your Google apps account.
People information in the portal
When user’s first login to the user portal (or they can click edit profile) they are shown a form to fill in there user profile information. They are able to complete basic forms like name, phone #s, job title etc. They are also able to upload a photo which you can then use to try and remember who is who. You are already able to upload photo’s in the front end of Spiceworks and using the new iPhone app. If you have AD sync on once the user has changed their information it is sync’d back to your Active Directory meaning users now have the ability to update there own name if spelt wrong, or change the job title with promotion.
One use I have found for this and will probably start to try and play with is making a dynamic distribution group for each team and allowing the user to go in and change which department they work for. In a company where people change job roles almost on a weekly bases from working on one account to another this will be a great time saver for many IT teams and the feature I’m probably second most excited about (after the multi-threading).
Report on your “people”
With all the new information about your user’s your putting into Spiceworks it makes sense that you should be able to report on them to get this information out for something like a telephone list or photo cards to help you find those users as your wondering around the office.
There are currently three built in reports: people report, people with devices, people with tickets, how ever the report builder also now allows you to make your own.
Another step in helping you manage troubleshoot and build a better network is knowing how much bandwidth is used and where. So Spiceworks have built in new utilization graphs, alerts and reports to help you locate bottlenecks, the top user’s and the problem areas on a wider range of devices. Windows and Mac devices which have been scanned with valid credentials should now have a new bandwidth utilization graph which shows you when they were busy. You can then setup alerts on this to notify you if a device uses a lot of bandwidth and so you can get a broader view of the traffic flow you can then report on it.
This is a great tool to help you troubleshoot problems based around slow or unreliable connections.
You can now scan UPS devices to keep an eye on your battery backup status, Spiceworks have already found out how valuable this is, after someone unplugged the UPS to test it and forgot to plug it back in before they went home. You can then monitor the health of the devices to ensure they are working correctly and will there when and if your power really goes.
You can now check the S.M.A.R.T status of windows hard drives to help you protect against a failure before it happens. You can setup alerts so as soon as the S.M.A.R.T says there is a problem you get a notification email and an alert shows up on the Spiceworks dashboard. Helping your protect your data and sleep easier.
Ricoh Aficio Printer Support Through SNMP
This feature shows the power that the SpiceHeads can bring to the application, some user’s had requested this feature be built in but the developers weren’t able to build and test it themselves so they got some user’s on board to help them find out the SNMP information for the printer and test it. Brining joy to all the people with Ricoh printers. These simple things are what helps Spiceworks stand out from the crowd.
Exchange 2010 Support
Exchange 2010 can now be used for the helpdesk ticket systems (it will be available for the alerts etc in a future beta build) this now allows everything with exchange 2010 to make the most out of the ticketing feature. Although it worked with pop and imap some companies do not turn them on for security / management reasons so the team off developers worked hard to make sure that all the current exchange versions work.
Relate one ticket to multiple assets
In a recent version we saw the ability to link multiple people to a ticket and now we can related multiple assets to a ticket. This is great to keep track of if it was a software install your an link it, or a connectivity problem between two machines you can add them both in. The uses are endless, being able to link more than one asset has been a feature request for a while.
That’s it for now, I have skipped over a couple of minor features so make sure you checkout the 5.1 beta test plan if your going to give it a try.
You can get the beta and all the latest information from the Spiceworks 5.1 group in the community.