Recently I have been researching alternatives to our custom built in house RMM system. The cost to maintain and continuously enhance a custom system can be quite high and challenging. What I discovered through my research though was quite enlightening. I picked two very popular tools in the industry for comparison. I could look at others, but I think the two I picked should give me a good idea as to what to expect from the others.
Both tools had some wonderful features and were able to drill down into systems and ultimately help get to the root of the problem. That is of course if you have a really good technician/analyst that can make heads or tails of the copious amounts of information.
Both tools either integrated with external ticketing systems or you could use their built in system.
Both tools had a ton of probes and templates so that you could monitor and alert on just about anything.
What I didn’t expect was how focused these tools were on End Users and Servers, or how unfocused there were on Infrastructure.
Our tool was built from the ground up to manage Networks. Routers, Switches, Firewalls, VPN Appliances, Access Points Etc. In the demo I couldn’t get the guy to stop showing me Server examples. I needed to see some real world LAN/WAN examples.
Another disappointing aspect of the demo’s were the lack of Live Network Maps. A Live network map is crucial to any tech in identifying connection points, VPN Paths, Routing Protocols etc. In fact many of our customers use our live network maps in their own operations centre to quickly identify issues across their network. The live network maps I have seen from other vendors lack some of the basics we have built in to our tool (Called RHINO). A feature for feature comparison would be unfair and quite frankly our tool would not stand a chance against the big boys, but we have specifically built into our tool features that make sense to us as network managers and left out the bloat that I have seen in the others.
While the costs for me to continue development are high, my analysis of the other tools have me well ahead of the game. If I need a feature I add it, if there is a bug I get it fixed. This has allowed us to create a tool that is not only multi tenant capable, but has custom branding abilities and features that make sense.
The costs associated with the tools I have analyzed may make sense for the small or medium sized network, but when we get to 10,000 nodes, across hundreds of clients, the costs of these tools are astronomical. Those costs, coupled with the Server requirements and then the technical staff to maintain the servers, the application and the relationship with the vendor and then finally the maintenance costs far exceed the costs I have in maintaining in house developers. In fact my analysis has led me to the conclusion that I should be adding at least two more high end developers.
I am extremely proud of the work my technology team has put into this tool. This team works hand in hand with the technical support staff and professional services staff. These groups all working together have made the tool an efficient and effective RMM system with enough features to make it useful, but not so many that make it hard to use.