I just wanted to take a moment to step out of my sneakers and into my professional shoes (they’re black and shiny and lovely).
A little while ago, my organization started shopping around for a new Asset Management and Help Desk Ticket software solution. I won’t mention what we used before, but it was lacking in functionality, lacking in support, and rising in price. So, I set about going elsewhere.
I posted my inquiry to Experts Exchange. I told them the following requirements:
- Must be multi-platform. Web-based is preferable, but cannot be bogged down or sluggish.
- Must have Asset Management functionality built in that will allow for network scanning of assets
- Must support at least twenty technicians and a coupla thousand users
- Must be affordable (i.e. – four figures with no more than a thousand dollars a year in maintenance costs)
I got back a host of replies with various solutions. I wrote them all down and tried each one. One of the first ones I started out with was a product called Spiceworks. It looked promising, but I was skeptical about the pricetag and it had rotating hosted ads on it, which I didn’t care for much… so out it went. I continued down the list and was met with either disappointing products or hugely inflated price tags; it’s amazing how a $500 product can wind up costing $50,000 when you tack on user quantity upgrades, active directory plugins, self-hosting costs, and everything else you would need to be truly functional. And so, my list was depleted with no real solutions found.
On a lark and born of despondency, I went back to Spiceworks and dug deeper. The reason I was skeptical about the pricetag was… well, there really isn’t one. It’s free. In my world, “free” equals, “we’ll get you down the road” or “this product doesn’t work”. Except, I really didn’t see any hidden costs. I downloaded the product (not a trial, but a full featured download), installed it on our Windows Server 2003 testbed system, and set about using it. It really did work as advertised and at no point did it ask for any hidden costs. I was able to add as many users as my heart saw fit, as many technicians as I wanted, as many assets as I wanted, had a lot of power in customization, and it even had a user portal that was AD bound to allow our end users to log in and submit tickets as well as check the status of their existing tickets. I was thrilled… if only it weren’t for the damned rotating ads. Waitaminute… did I just see a way to disable ads on their site? Oh – for a fee! I get it, this is how they screw you! Well played, Spiceworks… well played. Reel ’em in and then drop the ads for… twenty bucks a month?
Yeah, that’s all. I put this software into production several months ago and we’ve really put the screws to it. Lots of users, assets, and trouble tickets and it has ticked along with no real issues… all for $20/mo.
I wouldn’t say it’s been entirely incident-free, though. This last Saturday, I attempted to upgrade to the new 4.0 release and it broke our system. I posted a help request to the Spiceworks community forum. Almost immediately, I was in touch with employees of Spiceworks and being given instructions on sending our database, data, and log files to them for evaluation. After a few hours, I was notified that our database was slightly damaged prior to the upgrade and they are still currently working on sorting it out for us.
In case you missed that, let me rephrase: The company of a FREE product is VOLUNTARILY providing me with attentive support on a WEEKEND. Wow.
Kudos to you, Spiceworks. Keep up the good work and I’ll keep putting up the good word.