A recent study commissioned by IBM revealed that midsize companies have shifted from focusing on cost control and efficiencies to concentrating on growth initiatives as predictive technologies become more affordable and widely available.  The study also found that 2/3 of midsized companies have plans to adopt Cloud technologies, similar to an earlier poll of Ipswitch customers.

Other findings from this study indicated that IT budgets will increase over the next 12 to 18 months, with investments in wide range of priorities including analytics, cloud computing, collaboration, mobility, and customer relationship solutions.

What do think of this study – How does it compare to your 2011 plans?

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It is likely my own employees will approach me with confused expressions and ask why I would take time to defend Solarwinds’ earning announcement yesterday. My product management and development teams can point to the deliberate design differences WhatsUp Gold is built with that make it more usable than Orion and my sales staff will argue that the WhatsUp Gold pricing model with unlimited monitors per device is a higher value and better integrity solution than the exploitive SolarWinds model of charging per instance of a monitor per interface. I enthusiastically agree with my product and sales teams! We are a better choice but that war is won in the field, within the network environments of all size companies. Today, what is more important to me is addressing the macro issue of transformation the network management and performance market is undergoing. It is a revolutionary change and companies like Ipswitch WhatsUp Gold and SolarWinds are leading and the market will not be the same again.

Wall Street Process Has No Regard for the Road Less Traveled
Wall Street reacted negatively to SolarWinds’ earnings for Q2 and forecast for Q3 and 2010. That’s what Wall Street does – mathematicians and bean counters dedicated to predicting the economic fate of companies like SolarWinds. The decision to go public is filled with sexy connotations of wealth and power and for some those dreams are realized. For others however, the aspirations of money and parallel the 2 wheel car driving the mountain road designed for four wheel drive trucks. You set out and quickly discover the ride is going to be hellish and there is 90% chance you will break down before your reach the destination. SolarWinds lowered its earnings outlook but I think they still represent a model business in terms of growth and profit. Public markets are demanding and when you show up to the game having the reputation of hitting home runs every time you’re at bat; solid singles and triples get you boo from the street. Solarwinds will be fine. They will acquire accretive businesses to boost growth numbers while sacrificing margin and the Wall Street critics will continue their predictable judgments. In all this drama, the fact that the marketplace has and is undergoing a huge shift in the way it buys and uses software will be lost to the financial noise of Wall Street.

“No One Gets Fired Anymore for Not Buying HP Openview
Up until the genesis of the recent recession, the famous line thrown around by some buyers was “no one gets fired for buying HP”. I am sure it’s still true that the IT management teams of the upper echelon of F250 companies still feel this way and who can blame them – heck, with all the golf outings and high priced dinners they receive from the HP, CA and IBM guys, it’s real hard to say no.

However, this recession and the ongoing humility brought by global markets have changed the IT landscape forever. Budgets are slashed and we (Ipswitch) predict based on our prospective interviews with thousands of IT buyers that budgets are permanently reduced but most importantly; for the first time in many of their careers, IT staff is expected to look at non-Big 4 solutions specific to network and performance management. The strong, double digit growth both Ipswitch WhatsUp Gold and Solarwinds are experiencing is proof positive that IT buyers are not only looking outside the big 4, they are buying outside the big 4. Ipswitch WhatsUp Gold and SolarWinds have had their best financial years in recessionary years.

“Solutions are Replacing Platforms”
There is no magic nor any tricks. We are selling more because we have designed solutions that are replacing existing platforms – Yes it is that exciting and that powerful. The notion that large firms have more complexity is true. The notion that the complexity can be managed with more complexity is not true. Solutions can now replace platforms. And…a side but important benefit has also been realized. Because buyers can buy best in class solutions from different vendors, the onus in now on every vendor including Ipswitch to build the best in class solution in every area we compete on or our buyers will go to a different a vendor. That is a world of difference away from yesteryear when you bought the HP platform and then were forced to buy ONLY HP plug-ins at a high cost and low usability standard.

Wall Street will continue its ferocious review of SolarWinds and others and the consequences will be seen in attractive headlines on yahoo finance and the WSJ. Take a step back and look beyond the boundaries of Wall Street’s cares. The network management and performance space is officially changed and Ipswitch WhatsUp Gold and SolarWinds will be leading that change by bringing the simplicity that enables management over complexity.

And…don’t fall victim to the idiotic and verbose statements made by the on sleuth of new entrants looking to cash in to the opportunity in this new market. Hardware solutions are the wrong alternative. The MSP space is alive simply because usability by vendors including us was too lax for a little while but we are back with better than ever usability that enables every company of every size the opportunity to manage and drive the sacred network assets.

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Shocker!  So let me get this straight…. A leader in the B2B Gateway, MFT, and Integration Provider markets gets acquired and the leading analysts firms in the universe reduce it to an apps in the Cloud story????  SMH.  Let’s peel away just one layer of the onion… Just one layer, no analysis needed on this one.

Companies with investments in Connect:Direct and/ or Connect:Enterprise have to think long and hard about continuing their reliance on the NDM protocol.  We aren’t talking about just two or three companies, we are talking about thousands of financial, manufacturing, healthcare and telecomm companies.  So we need some advice on this one…

read more “Peeling the Sterling Onion”

To some folks this is just a flash banner on a website, amongst the many marketing messages that you typically find on a technology provider’s dot com website.

“IBM acquires Sterling Commerce from AT&T for $1.4B”.

For many customers it means reconsidering 30 year old technology that enables many mission critical processes.  When something like this happens, in my past life at Gartner I would be required to write 3 paragraphs: what happened, my analysis and what should customers do.  And I had to be politically correct because all three companies were important customers to Gartner.  I could give thoughtful analysis but I had to produce multiple caveats to indemnify myself and Gartner.  ( Hey it’s a decent business model!)

read more “IBM Buys Sterling- A Glimpse From The Land Of Rounding Errors”

I’ve written about this before and after reading this latest review by Denise Dubie of Network World I couldn’t resist.

If your currently a network and operations management customer of a Big 4 vendor, namely HP, BMC, CA or IBM your likely as upset as 640 of your colleagues and looking for a change in course and performance. After all, Denise stated that 40% of respondents gave the Big 4 a C grade and 30% gave the forbidden D grade. What is going on? You pay hundreds of thousands of dollars if not millions and all you get is C & D grade performance, service and respect?

Denise notes a Gartner report that says, “”Continuing customer satisfaction issues, the emergence of new technology and service delivery approaches, and the rise of large technology infrastructure providers expanding their capabilities into management software all contribute to making these industry leaders vulnerable.”

For more years than we care to count at times, visionary vendors like Ipswitch and a host of other SMB management vendors have dedicated productive time and thought to designing products that are effective in resolving pain yet easy to use. For years, the Big 4 dismissed us all as point products while they continued to fatten their products with hard to use features. As markets have matured in knowledge and grown in frustration, I feel exhilarated to know that our plan to build usable products was not only the right plan – it will make a difference in thousands of networks across the globe.

Imagine you had the power to leave your job as a network administrator for a day or so with pay of course. Next, imagine you’re granted an employee pass to the product planning session, marketing rah-rah party or the annual sales meeting for one of the large enterprise systems management companies like HP or IBM. What would you say once you arrived?

You would likely acknowledge that HP and IBM reflect much of the excellence the tech industry is known for. You would also be impressed with the corporate facilities and free drinks and snacks in the employee lounge but you would also ask, “Which one of you folks is in charge of gathering requirements from administrators like me before you go off and build your Openview and Tivoli lines?” After a moment or two of silence – you’d likely be inundated with a barrage of commentary around how effective customer advisory councils and on-line forums can be. Hmmm…just as you thought!

The point here is not to bad-mouth HP, IBM or any other enterprise systems vendor but enough is enough and on behalf of all overworked, overstressed and underpaid network administrators, you are making your voice heard.

You sit back in a clean new Herman Miller chair and yell Stop! You quickly point out to the lead spokesperson with the laser pointer that complexity does not equate to effectiveness and demands for simplicity does not equate to lack of ability. Network admins are busy professionals. More then ever before, an admins ability to keep the network up, running and supportive of the business objectives set forth are non-negotiable.

Administrators have neither the time nor the resources to take a week or two long training course in “how to use” one of these enterprise systems and are instead choosing solutions like WhatsUp Gold because it provides everything the most discriminating network admin needs to do his/her job without the stressful complexity of the user guide for larger systems. Last, you realize you do have the power…and that power is choice.

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