It’s not a vendor-dependent network management world anymore. There are so many players in the market. Vendor-specific enterprise solutions, third-party software and Open Source tools are all being used across corporate networks subject to individual network requirements. Network management systems (NMS) are becoming vendor-agnostic, offering the capability to support networking hardware’s from a wide variety of manufacturers and device models.
When we spoke to some of our customers who had previously used BIG 4 (HP®, Cisco®, IBM®, CA®) network management solutions, some of the foremost reasons on why they made a switch to SolarWinds were, the difficulty of managing an enterprise NMS suite, affordability and the total cost of ownership of these products that, over time, started choking IT management budgets for organizations. Big 4 users felt that they paid for features they did not use and were not getting an adequate return-on-investment.
With increase in network complexity, users seldom need a tool that overshoots their existing problems. In order to find an easier way to achieve what users want at a reasonable cost, we had to dig deep to find the difficulties faced by them while using one of the Big 4 products.
Affordability and Total Cost of Ownership
Big 4 network management solutions are high priced, from the initial cost of licenses purchased till the maintenance and support of their products. Big 4 customers end up spending too much for the features and capabilities they didn’t use, nevertheless the charges for the additional support they would require which results in a much higher total cost of ownership (TCO). The following are some examples where Big 4 customers face the heat of additional costs.
Maintenance – Traditionally Big 4 enterprise solutions have an expensive annual maintenance charges. Users have to subscribe in order to receive latest patches and updates.
License – Organizations who purchase Big 4 products end up paying for software licenses that they rarely used. In large organizations, the guy who made the initial purchase isn’t even involved during the implementation process.
Consulting/Services – Additional services rendered by the vendor usually draws additional costs that wasn’t included in initial purchase. Services may comprise of user training sessions, services during implementations, deployment, etc.
Return on Investment (ROI) – Most of the time, Big 4 customers were skeptical on how to justify the ROI on their network management solution when it came down to total cost of ownership. To maximize the ROI, they have to spend extra money for training their own staff. And with higher maintenance fees, organizations are looking at diminishing ROI when they are looking for more scalability and integration within their environment in future.
Big 4 users always complain about the complex user interface and not so easy-to-read dashboards. Mostly, they have to get a special training to understand the processes involved in operating the network management tool, which additionally consumes more time and effort. Users go through a series of tedious tasks to operate the basic functionalities like reports, alerts, etc. Some of the factors that inhibits the ease-of-use are,
Complex User Interface – Absence of clear and easy-to-read real-time network information has been the Achilles heel of Big 4 products. Lack of visibility, by having a broken dashboard view of network infrastructure and operations can distort the users from easily finding out the network issues.
Integration – Expensive enterprise network management solutions are difficult to integrate with other products based on different platforms, which might be critical to make users job much easier is to manage their network environment through integration.
Reporting – Big 4 users also have a difficulty while generating reports because of the lack of out-of-the-box reporting functionality. Users sometimes manually create reports based on their need which is time consuming.
Management overhead – With extra features that has little or rare use, organizations require resources to manage them if the need arises. The lack of staff time and resources creates an operational nightmare if the users doesn’t know how to manage them due to complexity.
Ideally, customers want a network monitoring tool that’s affordable, easy-to-download, easy-to-install and easy-to-deploy with minimal effort. SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor (NPM) is an easy to use network monitoring tool that is modular and scalable. NPM is an affordable enterprise class network monitoring solution, when installed its up and running under an hour. You can get 80% of features present in Big 4 NMS products at 20% of the cost. You can download our fully functional 30 day free trial or test drive our demo.