Spiceworks, the provider of IT Management software for small and medium businesses, has announced a new partner program with which they are reaching out to cloud vendors to let their users use Spiceworks management interface to manage their cloud services. With supposedly 1,000,000 IT professionals from SMB sector using their software, this presents a good opportunity for cloud service providers to reach out to the SMB sector.
The idea behind the partner program is to get all the major cloud providers on board and offer an unified dashboard to the Spiceworks customers to manage their IT. With a single unified interface, they will be able to manage different cloud providers and their on-premise IT including various desktops running Windows, Linux and OSX. To do this, they have offered integration APIs and services which the cloud providers can use to integrate their services. Right now, they have signed up Rackspace, HP and Symantec. Soon they will add more partners including some of the major cloud service providers.
The program offer three tiers of participation for the cloud vendors. They are
  • Cloud Services Inventory and Monitoring – provides basic account and service   information for cloud service offerings
  • Cloud Management Plug-ins – allows cloud services vendors to deliver custom plug-ins for Spiceworks that give users additional granular management and monitoring capabilities.
  • Cloud Service Distribution – distributes management capabilities for cloud services to 1 million IT pros by integrating the ability to add, manage and monitor cloud services within the Spiceworks application. Integration APIs enable categories of services, such as hosted email, remote management, and security to be built into Spiceworks.
This could be a pretty convenient tool for small and medium businesses as they move their infrastructure to cloud. I asked the Spiceworks folks if they have plans to offer a SaaS offering. They told me that right now they are focussing more on the on-premise installable software because most of their clients have significant on-premise resources. They further added that as more and more people move their entire IT to the clouds, they will consider offering a SaaS version.
The biggest advantage with their software is that it is free. They make their money from the infrastructure vendors and ads on the IT management dashboard. If anyone is uncomfortable with the ads, they can pay a $30 monthly subscription and get rid of their ads. I will be uncomfortable with the ads because they do track the kind of resources we use using the dashboard while serving up ads. For example, the page in which IT admins manage their printer might have ads for printer inks. They do claim that they have a very strict privacy policy and will go out of their way to protect it. But the paranoid part of me is still uncomfortable with ads. I might be ok with seeing ads in my email but as a business owner, I would be uncomfortable with a third party tracking my resource usage. The ad-free plan comes handy for paranoid people like me. If you are a SMB IT manager, check out their software.
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Krishnan Subramanian

Krish dons several avatars including entrepreneur in exile, analyst cum researcher, technology evangelist, blogger, ex-physicist, social/political commentator, etc.. My main focus is research and analysis on various high impact topics in the fields of Open Source, Cloud Computing and the interface between them. I also evangelize Open Source and Cloud Computing in various media outlets, blogs and other public forums. I offer strategic advise to both Cloud Computing and Open Source providers and, also, help other companies take advantage of Open Source and Cloud Computing. In my opinion, Open Source commoditized software and Cloud Computing commoditized computing resources. A combination of these two developments offers a strong competitive advantage to companies of all sizes and shapes. Due to various factors, including fear, the adoption of both Open Source and Cloud Computing are relatively slow in the business sector. So, I take it upon myself to clear any confusion in this regard and educate, enrich and advise users/customers to take advantage of the benefits offered by these technologies. I am also a managing partner in two consulting companies based in India. I blog about Open Source topics at http://open.krishworld.com and Cloud Computing related topics at http://www.cloudave.com.

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