Volume 9, Number 10 -- March 10, 2009

ManageEngine Goes On Demand with Data Center Tools

Published: March 10, 2009

by Alex Woodie

ManageEngine recently announced a beta test for OpManager OnDemand, a software as a service (SaaS) version of its systems management tools for monitoring servers and networks. The new offering gives customers a Web-based console to monitor a wide swath of their IT infrastructure, while eliminating the need to install software, provision servers, and pay big upfront license fees. Over the coming months, the company plans to deliver more of its IT management tools via SaaS, including possibly its relatively deep System i monitoring capabilities.

ManageEngine is one of three related companies that have quietly built an impressive roster of software applications and customers during the last few years. The company, which has headquarters in Pleasanton, California, and does most of its R&D in India, is a subsidiary of AdventNet, which built a name for itself writing simple network management protocol (SNMP) APIs for some of the biggest telecom carriers back in 1996.

Spun out of AdventNet in 2003, ManageEngine today claims to have 30,000 customers using its collection of 20-plus utilities, which cover a range of functionality, including wireless security, VoIP monitoring, ITIL compliance, help desk software, ActiveDirectory tools, System i and Unix monitoring, and database utilities. The company's motto is "90 percent of the functionality of the Big Four, and 10 percent of the price," a reference to the enterprise systems management suites from BMC, CA, IBM, and HP.

Equally impressive is sister company Zoho, which today offers nearly 20 online productivity and business applications that compete with the likes of Google Apps, Windows Live, and Salesforce.com. Nearly all of these products are free, including the Zoho Sheet spreadsheet offering, Zoho Mail e-mail, and Zoho Docs document management. The more advanced offerings, including Zoho CRM, Zoho Meeting, and Zoho Invoice, lure small and mid size business (SMBs) with paid subscriptions.

A broad range of System i metrics are monitored in ManageEngine's Applications Manager product. ManageEngine is considering making the software available over the Web as an on demand offering.

With the recent launch of OpManager OnDemand, parent company AdventNet has begun sharing more resources between its ManageEngine and Zoho business units. In fact, OpManager OnDemand runs in the same Linux-based "cloud computing" data center that Zoho built to run its collection of online productivity apps.

As a true multi-tenant SaaS offering, OpManager OnDemand allows ManageEngine to pass on to customers the savings it reaps by running an efficient infrastructure, according to ManageEngine vice president Girish Mathrubootham. "We are seeing a paradigm shift in the way IT is being managed today," he says. "OpManager On-Demand lets administrators maintain the performance and availability of their network, while paying only for the software they need, dialing-up or down their investment as circumstances warrant."

Like the traditional hosted version of OpManager, the on demand version gives administrators a Web-based console to monitor their network and server infrastructure in real time. Graphics display critical information gathered from NetFlow-supported Cisco network equipment, such as bandwidth consumption or network bottlenecks. For servers, the product covers basics such as spikes in memory or processing utilization or low storage situations. More advanced capabilities are offered for Microsoft Windows Services, Exchange, SQL Server, Active Directory, Lotus Notes, Oracle database, and VMWare ESX Server. Support for SNMP gives OpManager the capability to gather data from anything that can run an SNMP trap, including the System i server.

ManageEngine is particularly enthusiastic about the prospects for OpManager OnDemand among the managed service provider (MSP) crowd. These tech-savvy mercenaries typically move among their SMB customer sites, managing their servers and networks and fixing problems. With OpCenter OnDemand, a MSP can monitor all of its clients' computers remotely, without needing to install lots of on-site software or pay traditional license fees to do it. All that's required is a single "probe" to be installed on one computer at the customer site, and payment of the monthly service fee for each managed device.

Over the coming months, ManageEngine plans to offer more of its products via the SaaS delivery method. Mathrubootham says two products are already in the works for SaaS, including the Desktop Central work station management software, and the ServiceDesk Plus help desk software.

But other ManageEngine products could also be caught up in the SaaS-ification, including Applications Manager, which offers a System i plug-in that gathers dozens of operational parameters that are unique to the i OS platform.

"We have AS/400 support and the capability to monitor AS/400 servers in our Applications Manager product. We just need to bring that into an on-demand model," Mathrubootham says. "Right now [on demand AS/400 monitoring] is based on SNMP. But we have the capability to do much more, so we may be adding a lot more functionality."

There is also the tantalizing prospect of cross-selling the Zoho products with ManageEngine OnDemand customers. People who are tempted to dump Microsoft Office for a purely Web-based productivity suite will be able to get their e-mail, word processing, spreadsheet, and collaboration tools from the same vendor that delivers their network and server monitoring and CRM products. AdventNet is quietly building a fairly complete end-to-end IT infrastructure stack that lives entirely on the Web, which could be enticing for SMBs.

For now, OpManager OnDemand is available as a free beta. When the beta ends and it becomes a subscription-based product, which is expected to occur in the second or third quarter, the cost will be $5 per monitored device per month. To sign up for the beta, go to www.manageengine.com.

This article has been corrected. Pricing for OpManager OnDemand will be $5 per device, not $15,000 plus $5 per device, as the article originally stated. IT Jungle regrets the error.

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