So its been a manic time again at work so I haven’t managed to keep the blog as up-to-date as possible but things have got a little better and with the long weekend just gone I’ve managed to get roughly back on top of things. So ill stop wittering on now and get on with the real thing.
Spiceworks 5.1 was released earlier this week and is packed full of new features, speed improvements and changes. Like previous versions of Spiceworks this one is packed full of new features and shows even more how the team are aiming to help you manage your whole environment from one place.
Its out and its big
There are loads of new features and changes two many to write about in one blog post, you can get the full release notes on the community here. The application and the community goes from strength to strength with every update. With the recent $25million in funding we can expect to see bigger, better features built even quicker now.
The new Spiceworks HQ has a huge amount of room for a much larger staff base to ensure all the stuff we as SpiceHeads want gets built and gets built right.
One of the key things you will see the Spiceworks Application do more of is allow you to manage cloud services. We have seen this with the RackSpace email and more recently the Google Apps integration and now you are also able to manage your RackSpace Cloud services. Once you have setup Cloud services as a new IT service you are able to create and see basic information about your servers. This is neat but one of the even nicer features of this is the ability to backup your install to the cloud via RackSpace to ensure your inventory, ticket and people information is backed up ready for you to restore if you should ever have the need.
The ability to route email alerts though the community
When the team where looking at what people had problems setting up, using and getting to grips with they noticed that some people wanted/needed the email alerts to work without having there own SMTP server. For this reason the developers built in the functionality to be able to route the emails up to the “community cloud” and back down to your email account. Of course in doing this all your data is still kept safe it is only the email with very basic information that is sent.
One of the problems at the moment is if there is a security whole or a major problem getting people to perform updates can be a pain, Spiceworks’ awnser is to build in auto update functionality. This allows the team to quickly deploy updates to patch problems before they become a major issue *cough* PlayStation network *cough*. This isn’t as bad as you may think don’t worry! If your on version 5.1 and version 6 is out you wont be forced to update to 6, they will just patch 5.1 and deploy an update for 5.1 user’s… So I believe anyway. Only time will tell how this feature is used but if you have any problems with it the support team will be more than happy to help you get it fixed don’t worry!
With 639 people wanting the ticket merging feature request it was something people desperately wanted to get down the amount of helpdesk tickets they have open…
Its a very simple sounding function but has a huge complexity added on how people expect and want it to work. There were so many options but as always the guys went out, talked to people, got feedback and implemented what is a great solution.
Merging tickets is really easy, go to the duplicate ticket in the helpdesk, click “close as duplicate”, select the master ticket and then merge and close.
When they are merged all the info from the duplicate is put into the master and any replies are sent direct to the master. It works really well and I have already found its really useful.
Another one of the feature I’m excited about is the new multi-threading support which is designed to help speed up the application when you have one or more user’s and when the network scan is running. Rather than having to wait for the other user’s command to finish being processed Spiceworks can now work on two things at once (it may end up being more if it works well and it looks like you can hack the config file already ). This means you can now use Spiceworks more in bigger more demanding environments.
People Information in User 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).
Network Utilization Graphs, Alerts and Reports
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.
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.
Thats it for now
But watch out for some information about the android app soon