Spiceworks has added support for Google Apps and Rackspace cloud servers to its 1.4 million-strong IT personnel social network primarily made up of small and medium sized businesses.
The company, which produces network monitoring and management software, has added the support to the latest beta release of Spiceworks 5.1 to make the system more useful for IT staff operating in multiple environments.
"Whether you have laptops in your office or cloud servers in the sky, IT pros need a simple way to manage and buy the technology their employees and businesses depend on," said Scott Abel, co-founder and chief executive of Spiceworks.
"By offering technology from Google and Rackspace, we're taking a big step forward to make this happen for the 1.4 million IT pros who rely on Spiceworks for everything IT."
IT administrators will also be able to manage Rackspace hosted Exchange and IMAP/POP email accounts remotely via the system, and will enjoy a 50 per cent discount in licensing costs.
Customers will be able to access Google Apps and buy Google Apps for Business, which is proving popular in the SMB sector.
A recent survey by Laurie McCabe and Sanjeev Aggarwal of SMB Group and Brent Leary at CRM Essentials into the use of social networking by SMBs showed wide support for the technology.
Eight per cent of customer support and service transactions come from social networking, the study of the 750 SMBs showed.
"This data point is significant. Social media has already equalled or surpassed live chat and self-service portals (which have been around for many years) and is poised to gallop past snail mail," the analysts said.
The survey found that 17 per cent of companies use social media in a structured way, while 10 per cent also use it on an ad-hoc basis. Those with a social media policy saw nearly double the number of interactions of those that did not.
"SMBs that continue to think that Twitter is just for Charlie Sheen or that Facebook is only useful for Sarah Palin do so at their own peril," the trio concluded.
"SMBs that are tuned to relevant social media conversations and can effectively harness social media to respond will rapidly gain competitive advantages over those that drag their feet."
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