Today's focus: What's the right fit for SMBs?
By Dennis Drogseth

Most management software has been focused on companies with more
than 3,000 employees, even though the vast majority of companies
have fewer than that number. If you're part of that majority,
you may feel you have two choices - outsource, or try to fit
into the costly clothes of an older sibling that are cumbersome
at best.

The good news is that Enterprise Management Associates is seeing
some progress and innovation here, albeit along fragmented
lines. In the rest of this column, I'm going to delineate some
approaches to easing your pain, and I'm anxious to see what your
own reactions and priorities are. Which approach or approaches
have worked best for you?

Here goes:

* Element management tool sets for a specific device or brand.
In the network area, this would be management software specific
to Cisco, or Nortel, or Juniper, for instance.

* Low-end products or components packaged from one of the very
large enterprise management vendors, such as HP, IBM, CA or BMC.

* Desktop software - such as Microsoft SMS, LANDesk, or European
Criston Software - to distribute software to desktops and
provide inventory and sometimes license-metering capabilities.

* Security software - such as McAfee or Norton Utilities, which
are very niche products but nonetheless very pervasive
management components among small and midsized businesses (SMB).

* Wireless - an area of innovation with very little real in the
SMB area, but one that EMA expects will become increasingly
important. In the security area, for instance, SonicWall has
introduced some wireless capability for SMBs.

* Mid-tier products that are functionally rich but compact and
not too costly, such as Fidelia, which includes a reasonably
rich mix of fault, performance and service-level management.

* Primarily network or SNMP-based management - and here the
dominant brand is clearly Ipswitch - where the product is
focused and compact, but typically requires some IT expertise.

* Products for the small businessman that really don't require
IT expertise. While logically apparent, EMA has seen little
success here - Oculan being the most recent casualty - probably
because of the need for big advertising dollars to reach out to
a more diverse buyer population. One new utility approach,
Mutiny - coming out of Manchester, U.K. - fits somewhere between
this category and the one above.

* Outsourced services from managed service providers,
value-added resellers and others.

You might be taking several of these approaches. And you might
also point out categories relevant to SMBs that I haven't listed
- which would be great. I'd love to hear them. But the fact is
that your choices right now are generally limited by this
somewhat illogical list of options, and if you're trying to
piece some of these together, don't feel that you're alone. EMA
would love to hear your opinions.

Copyright Network World, Inc., 2004

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Copyright 2008 Art Beckman. All rights reserved.

Last Modified: March 9, 2008