CA has woken up to the perception among smaller organisations that the largest IT management vendor solutions are too complex and cumbersome, as well as far too expensive for them.
So, a few weeks ago, it brought out a packaged, cut down version of its Nimsoft Monitor software for the mid-market, called CA Nimsoft Monitor Snap to monitor up to 30 devices - at no cost and with no time limit on its use. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the company had gained 1,000 new users in the first two weeks.
The software can be downloaded in 15 minutes then deployed within another 20, and it will then auto-discover the first 15 devices - to be fully live in under an hour. It incorporates more than 20 of the most commonly used probes found in its Premium version, selected as also being the quickest and easiest to deploy. (The successful CA Nimsoft Monitor Premium version, deployed by over 1,500 customers, typically monitors over 200 devices and has over 140 different probes to choose from.)
Bill Talbot, CA's senior director of product marketing, explained that CA (and the rest of the high-end vendors) had not been reaching the SME market; CA now had an opportunity to do so. "There is not much greenfield [no solution customers] now", he said, but explained that organisations were often using several silo'd point tools. "What they need is a single unified view."
By making it available free of charge, "Users get a taste of the power of the tool," he said, but acknowledged that there could be a few "small fish" who never upgrade. Clearly, CA's hope is that plenty of users will like it enough to go for a bigger licence when they exceed their 30-device limits.
The download is a single binary with everything needed to get up and running including an embedded Microsoft SQL Express database, out of the box executive level views, dashboards, reports and best practice thresholds and alarms management and notification. Helpful hints are also built in.
Its immediate competition includes vendors such as SolarWinds and some open source ('free') software suppliers. CA is also taking a leaf out of SolarWinds' book in creating a community, calling it Snap Central. This will provide the only form of third-party support, where a knowledge base, discussion boards and videos and so on are being built. As with SolarWinds, CA hopes it will receive good community user feedback to direct its future development.
CA Nimsoft Snap boasts 'unlimited' monitors including CPU and memory usage, disk space usage; it will monitor virtual and physical servers, private clouds, applications such as MS IIS, Exchange, Tomcat Server, LDAP and check network and storage (e.g. EMC Celerra).
Talbot was anxious to point out that Solarwinds licenses its products using a per monitor model, greatly limiting the number of monitors per device. However, this is more about pricing when the devices go beyond 30. It will then be interesting to see how CA's own pricing compares for someone who upgrades to the Premium software (not needing a reinstall) having just exceeded 30, but being a long way short of the typical 200 devices supported by the Premium software.
This ties into the Premium and Snap software sharing one code-base; a quarterly update is expected to be available for both, with Snap becoming ever-richer as a result.
This is an interesting marketing strategy. Will it work for CA? It may partly depend on the experiences of organisations who, like salmon, shoot the rapids to spawn new Premium users in this way, whether the surge of new Snap users continues, and what percentage of these remain small fish.