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Sysadmins: Your favourite tool's now ready for, er, fondling

The spice(works) must (re)flow

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Spiceworks, the system-administrator's toolkit which thinks its a social network, now comes in a fondleslab-optimised flavour for BOFHs who like to oversee their empires from the pub.

Spiceworks already comes in a handset version, for iOS and Android, but it loses some functionality in squeezing the layout. There's a web-interface, but that suffers from the limitations of being imprisoned within a browser. So now there's a tablet-friendly version written using HTML5 and embedded in a native wrapper. That application is now in the appropriate stores (iTunes and Google Play respectively), providing the full power of Spiceworks to the beleaguered administrator no matter where they are.

The tablet clients, just like the server, are entirely free; Spiceworks makes money by selling advertising and, which is more interesting, charging device manufacturers for integration with its toolset. Once installed, the Spiceworks server scans one's network, identifying devices and tracking their status, but if those devices are from Dell then it will also check out the warranty date, and if they're from EMC then a storage advisor kicks in, while Microsoft servers will provide upgrade advice. All three companies pay Spiceworks for the privilege of making their kit easier to manage.

And Spiceworks certainly does that - our resident BOFH Trevor Pott's enthusiasm for the software is unbounded, declaring that Spiceworks "is truly one of the hidden gems of the industry", and that his job would be impossible without it (his real job, as opposed to scribing for El Reg on occasion).

Installing Spiceworks back in 2010, Trevor pointed out that it was the only social network with which he felt inclined to get involved. Spiceworks users are all, by definition, maintaining networks and that commonality of experience makes for a very active and participatory community. The Spiceworks APIs are open, so the community busies itself creating custom tools and scripts to the benefit of other users – and the delight of advertisers who know their message will reach only the right people.

There are around two million active users, according to Spiceworks, with a million-and-a-half installations of the Spiceworks server supporting them. The strength of that community has enabled Spiceworks to double revenue annually, and while figures aren't public the 160-person company tells us that it is now in profit.

Which bodes well for the future – reaching all those users will make companies keen to integrate the management of their hardware, which will in turn make Spiceworks even more useful. Being free there's little chance of a cheaper alternative emerging, and Spiceworks apparently has big plans for mobile administration – hopefully meaning that system administrators around the world can all spend more time nursing a pint. ®

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