IT Management Startup Spiceworks Rolls Out Free Monitoring Software

Spiceworks IT Desktop 1.0, available for download at the Spiceworks Web site, is agentless software that detects and reports the status of networked PCs, servers, routers, printers and other devices with IP addresses, said Jay Hallberg, co-founder and vice president of marketing at the 11-month-old, Austin, Texas-based company.

Spiceworks can offer the software free because it makes its money through a banner advertising relationship with Google, according to Hallberg. Solution providers who download the Spiceworks IT Desktop application will see Google-supplied ads along the right side of the management console, and the ads are targeted at IT professionals, he said.

Spiceworks IT Desktop requires a Windows server to run on, but it can detect and give reports on the status and details of systems running Linux, Unix and open-source operating systems, Hallberg said.

"What [users] really find useful is being able to get a catalog of all the software installed and all the services that are running on a server or PCs, the patches you have installed," he noted.

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Detection of rogue software and status checks of printer supplies also can be performed using the Spiceworks IT Desktop. Trouble tickets can be generated directly from Spiceworks if problems are discovered with any device being monitored.

The software's agentless nature makes it ideal for solution providers seeking a quick way to inventory and assess a new customer's network, Hallberg said. And MSPs that want to remotely monitor customer environments can install Spiceworks IT Desktop on a customer's network and manage it through a browser over a VPN, he said.

Spiceworks IT Desktop, designed by former IBM Tivoli engineers, doesn't perform software delivery functions such as patching, and the product is primarily a "read" engine rather than a "write" one, Hallberg added.

The software was originally designed to handle networks consisting of about 250 devices, but several hundred of the vendor's 15,000 current users have successfully used the product in networks with more than 500 devices, according to Spiceworks.