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I recently came upon a report comparing CA’s latest monitoring suite, Infrastructure Management 2.0, to SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor, SolarWinds Netflow Traffic Analyzer and SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor.  The independent assessment claims that CA’s monitoring suite is 2.3 to 11.4X faster diagnosing select use cases than SolarWinds products.  Upon a further read into the data, 2.3X to 11.4X equates to a savings of 30 to 146 seconds. Yes, seconds.  And the testers found that in this particular scenario, the CA suite did take fewer clicks and slightly less time.  Let’s give them that.  However, they failed to take into account all the other critical elements users look at when evaluating a software management solution’s ROI.

 

Based off recent customer and prospect research there are 5 elements that go into evaluating systems management software.  They are:

 

  • How long does it take to set up?
  • How intuitive is it for the user?
  • How much time does it save? 
  • How proactive is the solution at solving problems?
  • How much value does the product provide relative to its true cost?

 

CA’s independent report did not look at all of these aspects, just vaguely touched on point #3 – How much time does it save?  To fully evaluate both solutions, users need to evaluate all aspects of ROI.  So here it is - based off internet research.

 

How long does it take to set up?

In looking at some of the documentation for CA Infrastructure Management 2.0, it consists of ”CA Spectrum, CA Infrastructure Management Data Aggregator, CA Performance Center, and CA Network Flow Analysis. CA Infrastructure Management Data Aggregator includes entitlement for the related Data Repository and Data Collector components, as required upon product deployment.”  Wow, that’s a long list of components to install and configure to get up and running.  I would guess it takes a few days and a team of professional services staff to get this solution installed and fully operational.

 

I don’t need to guess how long it takes SolarWinds products to become operational.  I was very impressed with SolarWinds’ quick time to value on my first week of work!  Listening in on a sales call, the customer downloaded, installed the product, and was able to see data and evaluate the product within the hour.  And SolarWinds does not require professional services because we believe that customers want DIY software.

 

How intuitive is it for the user?

In looking at CA’s website, it appears you need 3 weeks of training just to use this product, recommended for 2 to 8 of your staff, depending on the size of the organization.  That is a sizable cost to the organization both in terms of cost of the training and the fact that no “real work” is getting done while the staff is getting trained on a product.  This is why it takes so long for the customer (who purchased the CA solution) to get any real value out of the product – because they must wait for the opportune time, when no other IT projects are taking place, to attend training.  This is arrogance on the part of CA that they expect their customers to spend time on training because their product is not as intuitive as it should be.

 

Again, SolarWinds is all about DIY.  SolarWinds does not offer a formal training program.  Customer training consists of a 1 hour webinar that provides an overview of the new product features with Q&A.   In fact, last evening at ConSec’12, I spoke with a customer who downloaded and installed our product the day before in order to quickly produce a report for the auditors tomorrow.  He had a problem and was able to immediately solve it!

 

How proactive is the solution at solving problems?

I can’t speak for the CA product, because I have never used it.  But I do know that SolarWinds is fanatical about the user experience.  User experience testing is a big piece of our development process, with EVERY release.  Our out-of-the box dashboards fit common use cases, based off customer feedback.  Only our users can tell you how much time the product saves in solving problems.  “In the past, determining an up to date server inventory for annual license agreements was a two to three day process; it now takes only seconds.” – Carilion Case Study

 

How much value does it add?

This speaks to price of the solution over free software.  SolarWinds prices are listed on our website, as SolarWinds believes in being as transparent as possible to help the customer evaluate our software (on-line demo, free software trial, pricing on website, open customer forums). 

 

I was unable to find pricing for CA Infrastructure Management, or any of their products, on their website. If CA operates like most enterprise IT software companies, first, they figure out how much budget you have, and then they sell you an adequate sized solution to fit within that budget.  And then they take you out for a really nice steak dinner, and continue to take out to nice dinners as you go through implementation to smooth out any rifts in the client relationship (as you might be getting very frustrated after 6 months not being able to actually use the software). 

 

Fewer Clicks, NOT Less Time, NOT Less Hassle

When you look at the whole picture (adding up cost and time of installation, training and software cost), fewer clicks (30 to 146 seconds per incident) does not translate to less time and less hassle.  With CA’s solution – and in fact any of the other big 4 vendors in the Systems Management space, you’d likely need to average hundreds of failures a day to justify the ROI.

 

I’m sure if you looked at the dinosaurs, you could find a few things that they did better than mammals, but that didn’t change the fact that once the world changed, the dinosaurs were doomed, and the smaller, faster mammals were set for takeover.  Slow, expensive, unusable software will soon be nothing more than a digital fossil because it just can’t adapt to the new world where IT has been consumerized.   It doesn’t have to be so hard.  Try out our software if you don’t believe us.


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