• 08/24/2011
    1:25 PM
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IT Management Gets SaaS Options

More management tools are available in the cloud, but drawbacks abound.
Take Your Pick

SaaS-based IT management services run the gamut of options. For instance, GoToManage focuses on server and network monitoring. With features that provide availability, performance, and configuration of Windows and Linux servers, IT can track and trend key metrics like CPU load averages, memory, and disk utilization. GoToManage charges $219 a month to manage as many as 25 devices. Several providers, including AccelOps, SAManage, and ServiceNow, offer CMDBs, which maintain detailed configuration information on network devices and computers.

For instance, AccelOps' service discovers and maintains an inventory of network assets, software, patches, users, and directory objects. It automates topology mapping and management reporting, presents asset details and operational status on demand, and facilitates compliance and policy governance. With the SaaS Web GUI, administrators can define IP addresses and IP ranges to discover and subsequently monitor. Wizards facilitate the discovery and maintenance process by communicating with the local client or the vendor's on-site virtual appliance.

ServiceNow, which updates its features several times a year, provides handy capabilities, notably runbook automation, which lets IT administrators automate basic and repetitive tasks, such as virtual machine provisioning. The service also includes hands-on administrative features, such as a chat service that lets users contact the help desk for support.

Sold yet? Maybe not. SaaS-based IT management aims to alleviate some of the cost and deployment burdens of conventional management tools. However, our research shows it has limited appeal to IT professionals: 46% of survey respondents haven't bothered to look into SaaS-based IT management, and 18% outright refuse to use these services. We see the main inhibitors as data collection, integration, and security worries.

That said, we remember when these concerns were directed at SaaS categories that are now mainstream. When faced with high costs and scant manpower, organizations tend to evolve to find the SaaS model, warts and all, an acceptable alternative to on-premises systems. That's particularly true for companies not tied to a raft of legacy applications. SaaS-based IT management services also make sense for those that don't have sufficient staff to run complex in-house tools, and those with more opex than capex flexibility.

Our take: The SaaS option is well worth investigating for some functions, especially for small to midsize companies. You can start small, and many vendors offer free trials.

Greatest concerns about enterprise management suites

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