Spiceworks is a private US-based company founded in 2006 that offers a completely free system management platform for hardware/software/licenses inventory, change management, helpdesk, OS remote control and network mapping.
The platform is aimed at the SMB market (over 1,000 monitored it starts to be slow) and is supported by advertising that is displayed inside the console.
Over the last four years the company made notable progress, extending its discovery capabilities to Windows, Unix, Linux and Mac OS X physical machines as well as network devices, supporting mission critical applications like Microsoft Exchange, SQL Server and Active Directory.
The company just released version 4.6 which introduces support for VMware vSphere 4.0.
The platform now can discover ESX/ESXi hosts and track down all their virtual machines, populating the inventory with virtual hardware details like vRAM, vCPUs etc.
Spiceworks already announced forthcoming additional capabilities to monitor virtual infrastructures.
Many may be skeptic about the chances to sustain the business through advertising, but Spiceworks seems to run pretty well so far. Additionally, the company is smart in the way it promotes advertisers: for example, if an helpdesk operator is working on a support ticket that requires new hardware, the product suggests to use a search bar with CDW offers, and the purchase can be completed without leaving the application.
This business model gives this company a significant opportunity to conquer the SMB market over time, offering multi-host (and hopefully multi-hypervisor) monitoring capabilities that virtualization vendors don’t offer for free.