Lottery organization bets on management appliance

Multi-State Lottery Association puts its money on Jumpnode Systems’ management appliance and hosted services.

The network managers behind the organization responsible for doling out Powerball and Lotto numbers across about 31 states don’t want to take any chances on their network-monitoring tools.

The Multi-State Lottery Association this year is betting on a management start-up that delivers its product via a management appliance and a set of hosted reporting and analysis services. That’s why Sean Lair, technical adviser to the director at the Multi-State Lottery Association in Urbandale, Iowa, upgraded his network-management system in March to a “more resilient product” from newcomer Jumpnode Systems.

Founded in 2004, Jumpnode couples hosted management services with an appliance that resides in the customer network. The company, based in Minneapolis, distributes its products through resellers and managed service providers, which is how Lair became acquainted with Jumpnode. The company, which in June garnered more than $5 million in funding from Apple Core Holdings and Opticality Ventures, uses an appliance model similar to that of fellow start-up Kace. Lair says that appealed to him, because he is short on staff and doesn’t have the time to patch, maintain and upgrade software -- never mind perform capacity analysis and planning.

Jumpnode provides its network monitoring in this appliance.

Founded:July 2004
Primary business:Develops IT systems and network management tools, using an architecture that combines preconfigured plug-and-play hardware appliances with software delivered as a hosted service.
Investors:$5.1 million in funding from Apple Core Holdings and Opticality Ventures in June 2006.
Management team:Irfan Khan, president, CEO and co-founder, previously co-founded Agosto, an infrastructure and operations outsourcing firm; Rick Baker, interim COO, general counsel and co-founder, previously oversaw worldwide strategy and operations for HB Fuller Company; Rob Bajorek, director of technology, previously worked as senior systems engineer at ING Financial Services.
Origins of company name:From an original concept that the product interface should be almost game-like — it should be so easy to use that you would jump to use it. The term "node" refers to the boxes.

“In our environment, uptime and availability is so very important, and while we had other tools in place that worked, we wanted something that could do more trending and reporting, and that was very resilient,” Lair says.

Lair had been depending on Ipswitch’s WhatsUp Gold software to keep network and Web site services available and working smoothly for some 31 state lottery groups. The software worked, but required more maintenance and updating than Lair wanted and didn’t do as much reporting and analysis as Lair says he needed to do capacity planning across the multiple Web sites his organization hosts for member lotteries. Like fellow newcomer Klir Technologies, Jumpnode provides and performs the analytics that time- and budget-strapped network managers can’t always do.

“The big thing for us is that the software is partly hosted, and we can easily drill down into the data stored at Jumpnode’s data center to track trends and plan for capacity,” he says.

An existing vendor proposed Jumpnode’s appliance-based product set, which features various connectivity options that Lair found useful in case the network went down. “There is an option to connect the appliance to a phone line, so if the network goes down, we can still get alerting, and the box won’t fail,” he says.

Lair’s current license with Jumpnode, which costs him a bit less than $10,000 for three years, includes an appliance and software hosted by the vendor that performs about 500 “checks” across his network of managed devices and about 30 servers. “We got more of a product for less money than our two-year maintenance agreement on the software,” he says.

He installed the appliance behind the firewall in his network so it can easily access the devices, and the Jumpnode appliance communicates back to the Jumpnode data center with management data. Jumpnode also offers agent software that can be installed on servers or other devices that aren’t as easily polled via standard methods, such as SNMP. Logging in with a user ID and password, Lair accesses a GUI to view data and statistics, such as bandwidth use across WAN circuits for the past six months, he says.

Jumpnode provides its network monitoring in an appliance, which transmits management information to Jumpnode data centers for analysis and reporting.

“We like the fact that it is practically maintenance free, but we would like to see it collect more data from our switches and routers and some other devices, such as our caching server that don’t use SNMP,” Lair says.

Jumpnode’s monitoring appliances come in bundles that range in pricing from about $1,000 for one year to close to $6,000 for three years. The subscription requires a 12-month minimum agreement.

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