Kicking the tires of management software

* PacketTrap reaps the benefit of allowing customers to 'kick the tires' of its pt360 Tool Suite

There is no shortage of free software available for download online from researchers, communities and individuals. But for every freeware application that solves a pain point fast, there is another no-cost application that offers little value, making network managers think: "You get what you pay for."

The popularity of free tools such as Ethereal, MRTG and Snort and the strength of low-cost open source management applications prove network managers believe they can trust their managed nodes to free software.

But unlike open source management software such as Nagios that has a community of developers behind it, freeware applications can be left to stagnate online without any development or support.

PacketTrap Networks, a newcomer to the management market founded in 2007, in November asked network managers and systems administrators to download its free pt360 Tool Suite. According to PacketTrap CEO and Director, 18,000 registered users have done just that during the vendor's three-month beta program.

"The pt360 Tool Suite is a collection of 13 tools with a dashboard and a common look and feel," Goodman says. By offering ping, scan, TFTP, DNS and other tools for free, Goodman says PacketTrap allowed customers to "kick the tires of the free software" and helped the company equip its pt360 PRO -- which the company this week made generally available.

Pt360 PRO installs on a network manager's workstation, desktop or laptop, and provides Cisco configuration management, server and application monitoring, open source and third-party integration and network discovery capabilities. The software also includes syslog server capabilities and the ability to save and flow results between tools, as well as the dashboard common to both the free and professional versions.

PacketTrap, which has pegged SolarWinds as its top competition, designed its products for network managers with between 100 and 5,000 nodes to manage. The company also has plans to release an enterprise platform later this year, but in the meantime, Goodman says PacketTrap invites network managers to download the PRO version for a free 30-day trial period here

"We speak to the IT community and we incorporate what they have to say into our software," Goodman says.

PacketTrap's pt360 PRO is priced at $1,500 per license, which includes a full year of support and software updates.

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