Cash in on free IT management software for a limited time only

Vendors work to win over budget-strapped IT customers by giving away applications in the short term and hoping to make bank in the long run.

Software makers offer scaled-down versions of their commercial management applications for free, hoping to draw customers into a bigger sale.

As industry watchers speculate when high-tech software spending will return, vendors are making available free tools and applications designed to help IT managers get more from their existing environments without spending a ton of cash.

20 free software favorites

Software bargains: Useful tools for under $1,000

IT search software maker Splunk recently made available a free downloadable version of its Splunk 4 software. The free download, available here now, includes all of the features of the company’s enterprise version of Splunk 4 for 60 days and allows IT managers to index 500 megabytes of searchable IT data per day. Following the 60-day period, IT managers can choose to convert to a Splunk Free license or purchase an Enterprise license to continue taking advantage of the multi-user deployment and get full support, according to Splunk.

With the free version, IT managers can search, analyze and report on any IT data including bulk-loaded, historical data. IT managers can troubleshoot across all tiers of their infrastructure, including physical servers, virtual machines, applications and networks. Security specialists can try the tool to identify and investigate attacks, incidents and anomalous events, and developers can use the free Splunk 4 to analyze application logs and performance metrics to troubleshoot both development and production environments, Splunk says.

“Since the beginning, a free version was a critical part of what made Splunk, Splunk. We were frustrated with the tools available for running IT, so we built Splunk Free for everyone to add to their bag of tricks,” said Erik Swan, CTO and co-founder, Splunk. “Splunk is driven to help solve some of IT's biggest challenges and to do so with a version that's free.”

Another vendor offering free software for a limited time is Netcordia, which made the latest release of its flagship product, NetMRI 4, available as a free 30-day trial download. Originally offered only as a hardware device, Netcordia now offers NetMRI 4 also as a virtual appliance. This version includes VMware player bundled with the NetMRI software to be installed in one easy step on Windows machines, for those that do not have access to VMware servers, according to Netcordia.

Netcordia is also offering the full version of the product at an introductory price of $2,495 until November 15, 2009 at which time the product will cost customers $4.495.

“With this latest release, and in particular their new deployment options, Netcordia’s best-in-class solutions are becoming even more accessible, making it easier than ever to achieve deep [network change and configuration management] rigor and deliver real value to IT operations,” said Jim Frey, research director at analyst firm Enterprise Management Associates, in a statement.

Interested in freeware and shareware, open source applications and scaled-down versions of commercial software and services? Network World devotes an online forum of free techie stuff. Let me know what you find, what you want to hear more about and what invaluable tools that didn’t cost you a thing at ddubie@nww.com.

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