Klir Technologies serves up a free, hosted management service

Klir Technologies this week said it upgraded its hosted IT management software to help network managers of small and midsize businesses to monitor critical infrastructure elements -- for free.

Klir Technologies this week said it upgraded its hosted IT management software to help network managers of small and midsize businesses to monitor critical infrastructure elements -- for free.

The company made available Klir Analytics 3.0 Beta, a free for download for customers monitoring up to 25 devices. At $10 per device per month after that, Klir says its software will provide the management capabilities that others buy with BMC, CA, HP and IBM products. Industry watchers say the software-as-as-service (SaaS) model and Klir's plans to incorporate community-based links into its customizable user interfaces could appeal to SMB network managers.

"Klir hosts the software that enables customers to perform their own management tasks more easily," says Jeffrey Kaplan, managing director at THINKstrategies. "By adding a variety of third-party, best practices content to their site, Klir also gives customers useful information and insight -- which could help them perform their management responsibilities more effectively."

Potential partnerships with vendors and industry research firms, for instance, would subsidize the cost of the software and give customers access to the software's management capabilities and insight from third parties and peers. IT managers can customize the dashboards based on their specific monitoring requirements, and must sacrifice a strip of the management interface real estate to links to outside content providers. Klir has yet to announce content providers with which it plans to partner, but James Maiocco, Klir's CEO, says the company modeled features in this latest release off of the success of the likes of Google, Flickr and Wikipedia.

"The idea is that while network managers are getting monitoring data on their routers, they can also link to other sites via RSS feeds with vendors and community sites, to add the content they want to their interface," Maiocco says.

The software downloads to a server and uses protocols such as SNMP, NetFlow and sFlow to discovery devices and systems. The software collects data actively and passively, and then sends it compressed and encrypted to Klir's data center for analysis. IT managers log on through their Web browser with user IT and password to track data and view reports in a customizable user interface, or management dashboard.

Klir says it is aiming to provide the majority of management capabilities SMB IT shops needs. By employing a SaaS business model the company could find success, says Dennis Drogseth, a research vice president with Enterprise Management Associates.

"Klir isn't trying to manage the customer environment, but to provide capabilities that are easily tailored to fit custom needs and make IT's investment in management easier," Drogseth says.

Rich Ptak, principal analyst at Ptak, Noel & Associates, adds that while the company could start strong, it will need to expand its coverage of various IT elements to successfully compete for IT dollars with the big four management vendors.

"[The company needs] more and better problem analysis, remediation, and broader coverage of the IT and business infrastructure," Ptak says.

Another management newcomer, Spiceworks, earlier this year was able to offer its Spiceworks IT Desktop at no cost to customers due to a deal the vendor made with Google AdSense. Depending on which companies Klir inks deals with, industry watchers say Klir's targeted content model could prove more valuable than targeted ads.

"I think simply having ads would be more annoying than helpful. A lot of professionals see all these ads as noise and just tune them out" as a trade-off for free software, Ptak says. "Klir is offering the ability to put hotlinks to just the sites you want to appear -- that is more appealing."

Klir Analytics 3.0 Beta is free for download, use and evaluation for up to 25 devices and 100 interfaces. Prices for the Enterprise version start at approximately $10 per device per month (sold month-to-month).

PROFILE: Klir Technologies
Founded:November 2000
Headquarters:Seattle
Primary business:Hosted IT management software delivered as a service and as a monthtly subscription for small to midsize companies.
Investors:$8.7 million from Ignition Partners and MK Capital in June 2005, just as the company started to roll out the first version of its product; and $3.2 million from several angel investors.
Management team:Paul Maiocco, co-founder and CEO, worked as a corporate technology and business attorney, most recently at Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP. Bradley Belanger, CTO, served as senior program manager at Expedia.com, group program manager at Microsoft's Carpoint.com and senior operations program manager at MSN.com before coming to Klir.
Origins of company name:Maiocco says Klir is the phonetic spelling of the word 'clear,' and represents how the company's products help customers more easily manage their networks.

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Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.