Spiceworks has unveiled the latest release of its free-to-download IT management platform, while also announcing a cloud-based version of its helpdesk capabilities, an upcoming network monitoring tool, plus plans to introduce a marketplace for extensions to Spiceworks.
At the firm's SpiceWorld user conference in London, Spiceworks 7.2 was officially announced, adding extended troubleshooting capabilities, including the ability for IT staff to remotely connect to end-user devices along with bug fixes to the platform's scanning engine.
However, the firm also detailed a number of new capabilities coming in the near future, including a Network Monitor app and a hosted version of its helpdesk app, which will be paid for on a subscription basis at £6 per month, but which avoids the need to deploy and maintain an on-premise server.
Scott Abel, founder and chief executive of Spiceworks, told V3 this was a request that customers had started asking for via the platform's built-in community forums
"When the request started to come in, I was blown away. Here we have this killer application that is free, and people were writing and saying ‘I'd love to have this hosted, and if the price is fair, we don't mind paying' because we can keep it up to date for them, and they just have to point a browser at it," he said.
Initially, just the helpdesk function of Spiceworks will be offered as a cloud-hosted version. This is set for a beta release in June, with general availability in July, Abel said. Spiceworks has even built in a one-click migration tool that will upload all of a customer's support tickets from an on-premise deployment up to the cloud automatically.
The Network Monitor app is also in the pipeline, but expected to hit general availability in August. An extension to the free on-premise platform, this will provide real-time monitoring of critical infrastructure such as key application servers and network switches.
"The goal with this is to identify the assets in your network and monitor them all, but the ones that are most critical, the watch list assets, you can put those up on the dashboard so you can see them all of the time and see at a glance how they are performing," Abel said.
Another feature currently in beta is a new start page for Spiceworks that offers key updates and alerts for IT professionals, which they can skim when they log in.
"There's so much information out there that it's hard for people to stay on top of it, and that's the problem we're trying to solve with this," Abel said.
Along with the 7.2 release, Spiceworks has updated its mobile apps for Android and Apple iOS devices. These now support push notifications for updates such as new support tickets or alerts on issues such as a server going down.
Meanwhile, Spiceworks is looking to make its platform more extensible in future, so that developers and IT vendors can offer bolt-on extra capabilities via an online marketplace.
This is to avoid Spiceworks turning into another bloated management suite, Abel said, which was one of the reasons he helped create the platform in the first place.
"When we started the company, we tried to be disciplined about picking just the 20 percent of features you needed 80 percent of the time, but as we grew, people wanted more and more features, and we could see we would end up being one of those vendors we made fun of in the beginning," he explained.
The only way to give every user all the features they want is to produce a platform that can be extended, like the App Store for Apple's iPhone, he explained.
Also like the App Store, Spiceworks plans to allow authors to make add-ons available for free or charge users for them, with the firm taking a percentage of any revenue - expected to be 20 percent.
"This might take us a year, so I don't think you'll see us taking money on that any time this year, but the platform is in place now to enable that," Abel said.
Spiceworks has seen considerable growth over the past few years, Abel claimed, with over 5.4 million users globally running the app every month.
The user profile has also shifted from mainly being used by small to medium businesses (SMBs) a few years back, to now including many large enterprises, he said.
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