Organizations (large, medium, and small) are starting to recognize the hefty costs they are paying for network management tools. No doubt the tools have essential functionality, but is it justifiable to spend so much on them? Traditional enterprise solutions, such as those from the Big 4 (HP®, IBM®, Cisco®, CA® Technologies), are typically packaged and priced so ambiguously that you often don’t realize the amount of money you’re shelling out to purchase them. IT budgets are getting leaner so network administration teams are looking for more economical solutions. It’s definitely not resourceful to purchase “enterprise solutions” that charge you for more than what you really need.

The smart choice is to spend your budget on network management systems (NMS) that provide a high return on investment (ROI) with a low total cost of ownership (TCO). When you look closely at the Big 4 products, you begin to see the white elephant in the room—a significant amount of budget spent on products that package many features you’ll likely never use.

When evaluating network management tools, you need to look beyond their features and functionality and assess whether you are getting the right value for your investment. ROI and TCO are tricky factors in estimating the net worth of an NMS. Here are some factors to help you determine the TCO of network management solutions:

  • Initial cost of purchase.
  • Cost of consultants or professional services to install, integrate, and optimize the deployment.
  • Overhead costs of product management (e.g. dedicated IT staff and time required to manage the NMS). 
  • Cost of learning and getting ramped-up to use the product to its full potential.
  • Annual support and maintenance costs.
  • Amount of time between acquisition and deployment (product demonstrations, requirement signoffs, budgetary approvals, etc.) where your network is unmonitored

The IDG survey findings revealed that 32% of the more than 100 respondents involved in purchasing network management and/or monitoring solutions agree that the ROI on their current NMS is NOT enough to justify the TCO.

Pay For Only What You Want

It should come as no surprise that when you purchase a Big 4 NMS you’re actually paying for many superfluous features that you don’t use. This happens because the Big 4 companies commit you to a product lock-in package. You buy what appears to be one product, but, in reality, you get a big, bloated enterprise suite that includes functionality and features that were not part of your IT requirements. On top of that, you end up paying for not only the purchase, but also the annual maintenance of this enormous suite.

The IDG survey findings also revealed that:

  • 56% of the respondents said their organization’s current network management or monitoring solution includes capabilities and/or features they do not need or use.
  • More specific to the Big 4 solutions, 66% of the respondents believe their network monitoring solution from HP, Cisco, IBM, or CA includes features or capabilities they’re not using.

This clearly shows that enterprise users are not satisfied with traditional network monitoring suites because they are packaged with more features than necessary and sold at high prices.

Complexity Accompanies Cost

In addition to cost, Big 4 products tend to be more complex in terms of installation, deployment, and daily operations. A white paper, published by Enterprise Management Associates, a leading industry analyst firm, presents four network performance management solution case studies. These case studies indicate that while traditional enterprise solutions are “highly extensible, scalable, and feature-rich, they can also be highly complex, requiring services to deploy/maintain/extend, special training to operate, and expensive annual maintenance contracts that must be kept current to receive all the latest patches and software updates.”

This means, in addition to troubleshooting and fixing issues, network teams using Big 4 products must also devote much of their time to becoming experts with a complex product. In addition to being feature-rich, a network monitoring solution should also be intuitive and easy to use—not require extensive training, expertise, or operational overhead.

The Search for an Optimal and Effective Enterprise Network Monitoring Solution

The challenge many network administration teams face in enterprises is to determine how to evaluate the best NMS to fit their network needs. One of biggest challenges of the enterprise customer is estimating ROI when selecting an NMS. Here are some tips to help you understand what aspects of usability, performance, and ROI value you should be looking for in your search for a powerful, yet easy-to-use NMS.

  1. Minimized total cost of ownership (TCO)
  2. Simple and transparent licensing
  3. Speedy installation and deployment
  4. Operational efficiency
  5. Modular and flexible network management architecture
  6. Scalability and future proofing
  7. Customer- and community-driven solution

Your Network Monitoring Solution Evaluation Checklist

Here‘s a quick-reference checklist to help you easily evaluate your network monitoring solution and understand how the NMS you are looking for meets your specific network management requirements.

The Right Enterprise Network Monitoring Solution

SolarWinds® Network Performance Monitor (NPM) is a highly scalable and easy-to-use NMS that addresses all network management needs of large enterprises, as well as mid- and small-sized networks. Purpose-built to be user friendly, NPM provides all the details of network availability, fault, and performance statistics, and generates intelligent conditional alerts to notify you when there are network issues and faults. NPM addresses all the major concerns of large enterprises in their search for an optimal and affordable NMS.

  • Improved ROI by saving a huge amount of time and effort through automated alerting and reporting, facilitating faster troubleshooting and other network administration activities.
  • Simple and transparent licensing structure—no hidden costs.
  • Reduced TCO even as you continue to grow and use the product for many years.
  • No additional packages or extraneous add-ons packaged and priced with NPM. You pay for only network monitoring functionality, which makes the product very affordable, costing only a fraction of what the Big 4 charge.
  • Highly scalable to accommodate network monitoring requirements of any-sized network, and any number of devices from hundreds of vendors and manufacturers.
  • Installs, discovers your network, and starts monitoring within an hour, giving you ready-to-use functionality and full value of your investment.

With SolarWinds NPM, you can monitor your entire enterprise network infrastructure from a single pane of glass on any Web browser interface, enabling you to build your own customizable network operations center (NOC).


To read full download the whitepaper:
A Guide to Enterprise Network Monitoring