IT management vendor Quest Software announced that it will offer its Foglight network management software as a free download to companies that manage 100 or fewer nodes with the software.
In small and midsized companies, many aspects of network management software have become commoditized, so making Foglight free to companies that monitor fewer than 100 switches, routers and hubs seemed appropriate, said Steve Goodman, Quest's vice president and general manager for network management technology.
"Monitoring up-down status, CPU, memory, alarms and alerts — that stuff has been commoditized in the low-end and in the midmarket," he said.
Among the options for SMBs are shareware and open source options, said Jim Frey, research director for Enterprise Management Associates.
“Spiceworks is a free tool paid for by advertisers, but it's designed for really small shops whose users wear multiple hats," he explained.
Beyond basic monitoring capabilities, features that provide application awareness and visibility and NetFlow monitoring remain premium technologies that are far from commoditized, Frey said. Also, larger enterprises demand sophisticated reporting and front-end interfaces that make it easier to manage a larger and more complex network.
Quest will sell other management products alongside free network management software
Quest sees network management software as the backbone of a large IT management software ecosystem. By giving away Foglight, it hopes to upsell users of the free software to its other products. "We believe the network crosses so many areas of the IT department that we can develop other products on top of Foglight that we can sell in areas like systems management and database management," Goodman said.
Quest Software has traditionally sold database management and systems management software, but it acquired its Foglight network management software when it bought startup PacketTrap in 2009.
"That's most of Quest's business: database management, virtualization management, application management," Frey said. Network management software was a major gap in Quest's overall product portfolio before the PackTrap acquisition, he said. "Now there's no longer a black spot where the network is. They're trying to get this out there and get people used to it and comfortable with it."
Quest targets SolarWinds with free network management software
By making Foglight free for managing 100 or fewer nodes, Quest is trying to take a bite out of rival SolarWinds' business. Goodman said that managing 100 or fewer nodes with SolarWinds Orion would cost a small or midsized company $15,000 to $20,000.
PacketTrap was originally founded to compete directly with SolarWinds, Frey noted. SolarWinds originally caught the eyes of networking professionals with its Engineer's Toolset, a collection of free network management software tools. The company made money by selling value-added features and modules on top of those tools. Eventually its technology evolved into its enterprise-class Orion products, although it still offers the Engineer's Toolset for free.
"PacketTrap had success with downloads of its own free tool sets," Frey said. "It got a lot of them out there, but not quite as many as SolarWinds did over the years. Now the PacketTrap tools have evolved into the Foglight network management system. It is a pretty complete set of capabilities, and you could argue that it is a little more tightly integrated than SolarWinds. But SolarWinds has a lot more capabilities and they have a broader set of tools."
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