• United States

Ipswitch and Singlestep – odd couple or perfect fit?

Sep 22, 20034 mins
Data Center

* Ipswitch and Singlestep Technologies make an interesting partnership

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Early last month, Ipswitch, clearly the most pervasive network management provider for small businesses and enterprise departments, made an announcement with Singlestep Technologies that provides some solid insights into where some of the holes are in enterprise management coverage today.

Ipswitch develops the Windows-based IMail messaging server and an FTP client for Windows, but it is famous in network management for WhatsUp Gold. WhatsUp Gold provides network discovery, event management, event log monitoring, and real-time and historical reporting.

It is popular – Ipswitch credibly reports that WhatsUp Gold is currently monitoring more than 30,000 networks worldwide – not only for its $795 price tag, but also for its fit to a well-defined set of user needs. It is easy to deploy and administer, although not designed for technically unskilled personnel, and its relatively modest functionality, compared to many products more than 100 times the price, is easily exploited. Most enterprise management products today are utilized at between 15% and 25% of their total capabilities, at best; WhatsUp Gold is readily exploited at well above the 50% mark. The fact that it’s pervasive not only in small businesses, but also in a wide array of enterprise departments – including those of Fortune 500 companies – speaks to its successful design.

By contrast, Singlestep’s Unity is a new entrant with a growing but still small number of accounts. Targeted at upper mid-tier enterprises, its price – Singlestep estimates a total cost of $93,750 – and functionality are substantially different from WhatsUp Gold.

Unity integrates with other data sources rather than discovering the network on its own – and integrates out-of-the-box today not only with Ipswitch, but also with HP Network Node Manager, CiscoWorks Resource Manager Essentials, Micromuse Netcool, Mercury Interactive Sitescope, and management applications developed in-house. Unity provides a policy engine so that IT can create policies expressing domain expertise about how to handle specified event conditions. Unity also provides a visually rich context both for defining policies and for viewing a wide array of management information from a wide array of sources.

At first blush, this partnership between Ipswitch and Singlestep might seem like an odd mix, given the difference in price, functionality, market reach and history. But on closer look, it exposes some critical areas of weakness in the general market that Ipswitch and Singlestep are well positioned to address.

WhatsUp Gold with the Unity Network Control Center won’t provide high levels of out-of-the-box automation, and collectively they are both primarily focused on event and availability management, and to a lesser degree performance management, rather than a full array of other disciplines. However, they do offer some critical values that ought to appeal to a wide range of enterprises, especially mid-tier:

* They are both easily deployed, administered and learned.

* They are well suited to providing an excellent context for easily harnessing expertise, and then creating prioritized policies to fit.

*  Both price and design make this package extremely well suited to environments where multiple management packages are already installed, and where in-house management software may also need to be entertained. This is not an all-or-nothing package – it can add value to a wide range of environments. WhatsUp Gold can be deployed at minimal cost wherever it adds value, and Unity can integrate not only diverse WhatsUp Gold deployments, but also pretty much anything else that makes sense.

There is another reason to believe that this partnership can bring success both to the vendors involved and to their customers. And that’s perhaps best summed up in the word “pragmatism.” If there were ever two companies free of rhetoric and ideology, they are Ipswitch and Singlestep. Both companies are ready and willing to learn from their individual customers – and take real delight in being surprised when their customers point out new value for their products. This refreshing open-mindedness should bode well for the future.