Help/Systems Buys Dartware To Build Out Heterogeneous Monitoring
January 14, 2013 Timothy Prickett Morgan
Systems management, security, and analytics software maker Help/Systems continued on its acquisition tear as 2012 came to a close, and last week announced that it had bought Dartware, which peddles a popular system monitoring tool called InterMapper. The move will allow Help/Systems to better expand into the Windows, Linux, and Unix system management, monitoring, and job scheduling markets that are adjacent to the OS/400 and IBM i market that it grew out of.
Dartware comes out of the networking corridor that wraps around Boston and extends into New Hampshire. (There’s a reason Network World magazine was up there, after all.) The dart in Dartware is not the pub game, but rather Dartmouth College, the Ivy League school in New Hampshire. InterMapper is a spin-out of an internally developed network monitoring tool created by Rich Brown, then network manager at the university, and computer science student Bill Fisher. The software was originally a network sniffer that had a graphical user interface and ran on Apple Macintoshes. It was one of the first network mapping tools ever created, and in 1996, Brown and Fisher convinced Dartmouth to allow the tool to be sold commercially. In April 2000, they got commercial backing from Stuart Pompian and launched Dartware as a company. Since that time, Brown has been the company’s president, Pompian has been its chief financial officer, and Fisher has been its chief of research and development.
The most recent versions of the InterMapper tool are written in Java, and the tool is capable of discovering and mapping just about anything on the network with an IP address. It also has a cool feature that will allow you to export the physical topology of your network and its devices out onto the Google Earth mapping system. There is an add-on so you can dump all of the data coming out of your network into the Splunk big data service. It has remote access so you can manage and monitor your network from anywhere that you have an Internet connection. This remote access module has the ability to aggregate data from multiple instances of InterMapper and show you all of your networks as they link into one. (The word network is like the word crumb, which comedian George Carlin cased correctly when he said: “If you take a crumb and break it in half, what do you have? You don’t have two half crumbs, man, you got two crumbs.”)
Dartware is privately held, and so is Help/Systems, so the financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed.
“We look forward to maintaining InterMapper’s reputation for exceptional support and to growing this customer base,” said Janet Dryer, chief executive officer at Help/Systems, in a statement. “As the only platform-neutral, real-time network monitoring software on the market, InterMapper is an important addition to our multi-platform family. Help/Systems plans to invest in the ongoing development of new InterMapper features and functionality, and enhancing its value to our customers.”
Dartware has over 1,200 customers worldwide using its InterMapper tool and 80 channel partners peddling it. At the end of last year, the company just started up its partnership with commercial Linux distributor Red Hat, and it also has partnerships with Hewlett-Packard and Cisco Systems. The user base is very active in the InterMapper community, and they contribute probe templates for various endpoints, switches, routers, and other gear that the company does not directly support through its own programming efforts. The tool also integrated with IBM‘s Tivoli system management suite, as well as CiscoWorks from Cisco, OpenView from HP, and others.
By virtue of coming out of the System/3X market in 1982, Help/Systems is a much older company, and by virtue of its eight other acquisitions and its organic growth over many decades, Help/Systems has more than 6,000 customers and is a much larger company in terms of revenues and employee count. Help/Systems has a history of leaving the companies it has alone and letting them conduct their business, and there is no reason to believe this will change with Dartware and the InterMapper product.
While Help/Systems was quick to point out in its statement that there is some natural affinity between its Skybot Software unit, which peddles the Skybot Scheduler job scheduler, and InterMapper. The latter runs on Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, and Solaris machinery, and the Skybot Scheduler similarly reaches into Windows, Linux, or Unix systems to schedule jobs on them. But there is no logical reason that InterMapper cannot be used by IBM i shops to sniff their networks and even be integrated with the Robot/NETWORK module, which is the core performance monitoring and management software that works in conjunction with the Robot/SCHEDULE job scheduler for IBM i. Help/Systems has not elaborated on the possible integration plans between the InterMapper and Robot product lines and was unavailable for comment at press time, but we will ask about the possibilities.