There are many decisions in life where we come across the question of build or buy. A new house. A business. An application. Monitoring software. Regardless of the object of discussion, answering certain questions can act as gates for helping us along the path to the right solution—for us as individuals or as companies.

 

Take database monitoring software for example.

 

  • What are the requirements? What are the “must haves” vs. “nice to haves”?
  • Does a monitoring solution exist that at least meets minimum requirements?
  • Is there a competitive advantage to be realized by building?
  • What is the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of the build vs. buy options?

Requirements

 

Regarding requirements, be sure to get input from all of the stakeholders who will be involved or will benefit from the monitoring solution. This will include DBAs, developers, management, and application owners at a minimum, but may also extend to other IT disciplines (system admins, storage admins, VM admins, etc.). Be as thorough and detailed as possible when defining requirements. Be realistic on the “must haves” and try not to throw in the kitchen sink. Take into account best practices when defining requirements. There is a lot of good content out there on how to define requirements, so no need to be exhaustive here.

 

Does It Already Exist?

 

After requirements have been defined, the journey can begin. A quick Google® search will likely yield a number of alternatives for consideration. Some things to look for are:

  • Features that match requirements
  • Testimonials
  • Trusted reviews
  • Customer reviews
  • Satisfaction with the product and support
  • Specific strengths and weaknesses of the monitoring solution

In addition to the above research, evaluations are likely in order. All of the key boxes might get checked, but taking the candidate solutions for a test drive can go a long way in determining a good fit. This phase will likely involve talking with sales representatives from the vendors. This is a great opportunity to get additional information you may have missed during your research, or answers to questions that come up during evaluations. Restricting candidates for evaluation to three can save time and effort.

Competitive Advantage

 

Determining if there will be a competitive advantage by building monitoring software is a bit nebulous. Database monitoring tools in general are fairly mature for the major RDBMS vendors. Only databases without a significant install base are likely to not have any commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) monitoring solutions available. Still, if you don’t find a solution that meets your minimum criteria, you may be looking at a build scenario. In fact, many great startups resulted from needs that aren’t met by COTS products.

TCO

 

Purchasing perpetual COTS licenses is usually straightforward, in my experience. Costs to consider are the list price, the initial purchase/negotiated price (usually some percentage of list), and then maintenance (normally somewhere around 20% of list price due annually).

The TCO for building a solution is a bit more ambiguous. Costs to consider include development of the product, potential integration with other technologies, security, administration, opportunity cost (associated with not monitoring) while developing, and maintenance of the product when new versions/drivers are released on the target RDBMSs. Software development being what it is, a contingency factor of at least 20% should be built into the cost for rework, bug fixes, course adjustments, etc. And hey, if you do succeed in traveling the happy path during development, that’s cost reduction that can flow directly to the bottom line.

 

Conclusion

 

The decision to build vs. buy is a key one. It’s tempting to go down a path because it’s something that can be done. However, answering the questions listed here should help those making the decision to identify what should be done.

Software Advice (a Gartner® company) recently published their FrontRunners™ quadrant, an assessment of the best help desk software for 2017. I’m excited to announce that SolarWinds® Web Help Desk® not only made the list, but was identified as a leader when compared to the total 460 help desk and IT service management solutions that were evaluated. That’s right—Web Help Desk was recognized as one of only three leaders in this category, and to top things off, it was positioned as the greatest value for small businesses among the entire field!

 

About the FrontRunners Quadrant

The FrontRunners quadrant for help desk software, which is powered by Gartner Methodology, offers a data-driven, comparative assessment of the capabilities and value these products provide for North American small businesses. In true form, the outputs of this assessment are displayed in a “sister” quadrant to that of the iconic Magic Quadrant, which is synonymous with the Gartner name. The top 20-25 solutions fall into one of the following four categories: Leaders, Masters, Pacesetters, and Contenders. Chief among them, however, are the Leaders, which offer the greatest breadth of functionality and serve the widest variety of customers.

 

Independent research, by companies such Software Advice, is key to helping small businesses make informed decisions about the right choice in software. These types of decisions become critical to supporting business needs and driving productivity.

 

A Special Thanks to Web Help Desk Customers

Software Advice’s evaluation of Web Help Desk relied heavily on the reviews and ratings from our customers as part of its scoring system, which in my mind, makes this achievement so much more meaningful. Take a look at some of the comments we received that helped us land such high marks.

 

“Simple, quick setup. Very easy to use. Found nothing it's lacking.”

    - Perry Johnson, Network Administrator, Periscope

 

“It has the potential to be the best helpdesk software on the market, and currently is really good”

    - Jeremy Mayfield, IT Director, American Cement Company

 

“Web Help Desk has the features we need to make our support experience painless for our end users.”

    - Ross Burdick, Network Support Specialist, Aberdeen Public Schools

 

“A helpdesk product that integrates with SolarWinds? Yes, please!”

    - David Whittaker, Systems Administrator, Bird Stairs

 

“A very robust ticketing system, with a lot of customizable options.”

    - Erik Stallings, End User Support Manager, World Travel Holdings

 

“Web Help Desk has really taken our ticket and tracking system to a whole new level!”

    - Jon Billiau, Sys Admin, Industrial Control Repair

 

Follow the leader

Interested in seeing firsthand why Web Help Desk is a leader in the space? Download a free, fully functional 14-day trial today and see for yourself!

 

The content for the FrontRunners quadrant is derived from actual end-user reviews and ratings as well as vendor-supplied and publicly available product and company information that gets applied against a documented methodology; the results neither represent the views of, nor constitute an endorsement by, Gartner or any of its affiliates.

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