Why I gave up on Spiceworks
Feb 7 2008:
Spiceworks has a few superduper flaws that I am not willing to spend (more) time resolving. I got to the point where I have a powershell script of an insane size to prepare a computer to actually be seen by spiceworks. I would be nice and post that info in their forums but they have wasted too much of my time to warrant my contribution. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I will not use it until they wake up and realize they need a client application. Here is my list of reasons Spiceworks sucks.
1. No client means you there isn’t a program to initiate contact with the server and send data or allow easy firewall control (click here to see all the people using group policy to DISABLE their firewall to fix problems. )
2. Too many remote services must be made available that shouldn’t ever need to be on. I want to close doors not open them.
3. Firewall rules require ports and pings shared with other windows services. A client would allow a custom port that does not need these ports open. I see this as a big security risk. Never open windows rpc ports without specific rules in place.
4. The server freaks out on its own too much. This screenshot above shows an example of it’s status this minute.
5. Even with my solid list of preparation steps, of 3 brand new out of the box Dell Vostros, 2 were seen by the server, 1 was not. Same process, step by step on each machine. Several double checks and a little packet sniffer work. I’m clueless. Shouldn’t be this hard.
6. Documentation for client preparation in the forums is pathetic. The target audience is small shops who aren’t going to have the experience or knowledge to do their nebulous WMI troubleshooting. Here are some pissed off users.
7. The server interface is SLOW and very bulky. For 39 devices my spiceworks processes are using 268MB.
8. Currently to monitor Vista machines you have to disable UAC!!! If you don’t have a problem with it, your users will freak every time they see windows warning them in the security center that it is turned off. This damages the credibility of an IT guy trying to maintain some sort of security in their shop. What? The company front door is unlocked? Who cares! Lets open them all!
9. As you can see, I have 6 workstations, 1 server and 26 unknowns. I could spend weeks getting the other devices working. (to be fair I could make 5 more macs show up but I already decided to drop it)
10. It will only work on one subnet! Hello spiceworks, build a client so I don’t build my own pseudoclient or tunnel on a vpn to make it work. I realize this is a shortcoming of windows and dcom etc. SO DONT USE IT!!! Use a tool that works. Spiceworks seems to be stuck on using a hammer to get the screw to go in just cause Microsoft or their CEO says so.
10.5 Spiceworks doesn’t support home clients. Which shouldn’t exist in a business but I’ve chatted with a bunch of people who have it anyways. Small shops don’t have money and sometimes do things wrong. I have to say that this helped me upgrade a few machines but it didn’t help monitor peoples computers on my network who brought machines from home.
I think if I was to continue I’d tunnel all the traffic through hamachi and maybe tool around with ipsec to get it all on a different port than windows file sharing ports. For now my solution is to use Hyperic. It is a great open source monitoring solution. I’ll post more as I get it running. I also still love Nagios even if it is a pain in the butt to configure. There are awesome virtual machines prebuilt for vmware that you can test out. Please use my google search bar above to search for them.
Mom says to speak of good things after bashing something. Spiceworks does a killer job on the helpdesk app, the inventory stuff is cool, the graphing is awesome manager bait. I could really use the application inventory but ONLY if it worked on all my machines. The reporting is pretty good and I really like the product review abilities in it. I see the ads as a good way to fund product development and don’t mind seeing items that are directly related to my field. Their support people are very nice. Oh and they have a lot of good educational documents you might want to check out even if you don’t end up using it.
EDIT 12-3-08 – I’m building an update to this. I went to Spiceworld 2008 and hammered out a few details as well as an agreement to test some new fun with the Spiceworks staff. I stand by my remarks from Febtober. Spiceworks as of then did not accomplish many things, they were humble and hopeful about addressing issues. Now after Spiceworld I am happy to see they are taking all of this criticism and building a sweet new product. If you drink the Koolaid and say Spiceworks is great, you aren’t helping them hone their skills. After 3.5 and a few other long off tweaks I think this Spiceworks will rock. BTW, why all the comments all the sudden? Did i get linked to on the forums at spiceworks?
2011-October – This post is super old but still has high page views. Our latest update for our INC500 company- we graduated from spiceworks to a more comprehensive solution – Dell Kbox. Sure it costs $3k a year, but saves us many FTE’s in salary. Spiceworks costs a lot in time. It also saves you a lot of time once you figure out the strengths. I would highly recommend using Spiceworks as a startup company but moving to Kbox or a similar product once profitable. . Maybe I’ll add to this more later. The Forum guys from Spiceworks will still find this and be offended, please just realize, Spiceworks helped us for a long time. I promoted it in my area and will continue to do so when appropriate. And if you are reading this post, well it is 2011 now. The post is more than 3 years old. Spiceworks has come a long long way in that time. Many gripes we had have been fixed. They are a really fun company full of great talented people.
2012-June – Spiceworks finally released a client. It isn’t secure but it is a step in the right direction for the company. I still can’t understand how many people made excuses for them all this time instead of asking for change. I do wish them the best as I like the people, but I can’t help feel bad for them because more expensive tools are so much better and make up for themselves in salary at your business. For a small business I’ll still say you can’t beat Spiceworks. They have probably the best support community on the internet and fill their niche well. At 47 employees in my company it is just a cute toy for amateurs who need help fast.
2013- Halloween – Spiceworld just finished up, cool news out of Austin. MDM support, hopefully better than the Dell K3000. Here in my world we are now a 3 time INC5000 company and using a mix of Dell K1000, K2000 and Microsoft System Center 2012 R2. I wouldn’t think about touching Spiceworks now even though we still only have 45 peeps. If these tools were military it would go something like this – Spiceworks=Iraqi military, still pals, get the job done better than you would think. Dell-underfunded 1st Marines. MS -101st Air Assault+a seal team when you need it. I think it all comes down to budget and training, if you can afford nothing, use Spiceworks and engage in the community every day. The spiceworks community is great if you are just getting started or your line of work just isn’t the type to grow revenue. If you have some money and you are a Dell/Mac shop, use a K1000, later get a K2000, don’t bother with MDM. Use the IT ninja community, they are great even for packaging and distribution on other platforms. And when you get to real revenue do it all in System Center. Buy premium support cases when you get in a bind.
One other beef I still have with Spiceworks – 4 million users?