Spiceworks has added new “cloud service discovery” features to the latest version of its social business platform for IT professionals, enabling users to identify and consolidate cloud services running on their networks.

The company said that, with the growing number of easily accessible cloud services such as Amazon and Dropbox, IT pros can quickly lose visibility into which applications employees are using across their networks. This can increase the risk of accidental security breaches, unintended data sharing, and application costs.

The new cloud service discovery features in Spiceworks 6.0 can detect around 40 popular cloud services that are currently used within organisations. IT pros can automatically scan their networks to see which cloud services are in use and by whom, helping them to protect sensitive resources and aggregate cloud licenses in order to acquire better volume discounts.

“Inside of Spiceworks there is now a button that you can hit and set up your scanning to include cloud services – things like Salesforce, LogMeIn, Symantec, Basecamp, Jabber and Skype,” said Spiceworks IT marketing manager Nicole Tanzillo at the SpiceWorld user conference in London today.

“What it's going to do is find every instance of a live open connection to those cloud services, and it's going to log that inside of Spiceworks. What the IT pro will see is who has logged in to what particular service, when and how. So they're going to start to get a picture of how these services are being used by end users in their network.”

The system works by querying open IP connections to particular cloud services. Spiceworks knows the IP ranges of the 40 specified services, and it will check for those open connections with its initial scan. In the future, the company will add a closed-loop feedback system, so that IT pros can ask for specific services to be added to the list.

Andy Phelps, IT Manager at HPS Group and Spiceworks “super-user”, said that knowing which cloud services are running on his network is essential for maintaining security and helping save money.

“The new free cloud service discovery features offered by Spiceworks make it simple for me to monitor cloud services usage and to find out more about the various offerings available for my business.”

Other new features in Spiceworks 6.0 include a knowledge base, which allows users to create articles, share information about how they are running their IT departments, and personalise existing documents so that they can be shared around the organisation. There is also install an optional agent that enables IT managers to track remote laptops and carry out local scans.

Spiceworks' CEO Scott Abel said that the company's strategy was to watch what users are asking for, and respond accordingly, rather than trying to control how the platform is used.

“When we started the company, the goal was to give 20% of the functionality you use, 80% of the time,” said Abel. “Most of what we do is essentially passive, we bring you information back, try to make recommendations on what you should do, but we don't build a lot of the facilities in for you to go out and effect that change. That's mostly done through our partners.”

Spiceworks announced last week that it now has two million users, representing nearly 30 percent of all IT pros at small and medium-sized businesses worldwide.