San Francisco-based Cittio Inc. enhanced its WatchTower network monitoring and operating management software by revamping the user interface, beefing up performance to scale to manage a larger number of servers, and streamlining the tools operation to allow users to more quickly become proficient with it.
Despite entering a mature market dominated by large providers such as Computer Associates International Inc, Hewlett Packard Co., IBM with its Tivoli unit and BMC Software, the four-year-old company managed to find a niche among customers looking for cheaper monitoring and management software that is easier to set up and administer.
Hawaii Medical Service Association found WatchTower to be a better alternative to management software such as CAs Unicenter or HPs OpenView, thanks to its ease of installation and use, according to Rod Fukunaga, operations analyst at the independent Blue Cross Blue Shield licensee in Honolulu.
"We had HPs OpenView here sitting on a shelf for five years because nobody could implement it. We knew it would take quite a bit of effort to install those high-end products effectively. The price seemed right, so we tried it out," he said.
Fukunaga said that while he didnt expect WatchTower to compete in feature richness with those "high-end" products, his organization got what it needed.
"We may at some point want to get more granular, but now we want to walk before we run—and get visibility. Thats what weve got with this. And we wanted something supportable," he said.
The new user interface in the 100 percent Java-based tool lets new operators use the tool in a couple of hours, according to Jamie Lerner, CEO of Cittio.
Version 2.4 also scales to manage hundreds of nodes. "We can scale to monitor over 1,000 nodes in a single box," he said.
WatchTower, which also adds latency monitoring, uses SNMP and other data-gathering techniques to monitor network devices, applications, database servers and so on. Users can configure automated responses to system alerts.
The software also runs synthetic transactions against applications such as Microsoft Exchange to "exercise the software behind each port," Lerner said.
Cittio, which was profitable before gathering a $3.5 million round of funding from venture firm Hummer Winblad, is among a new breed of startups challenging established players by automating more functions to simplify configuration and operation of the management software—and by lowering license and maintenance fees.
Another such player is Nimsoft Inc., which recently won a bakeoff at a large U.K. company that wanted to start out fresh after finding that CAs Unicenter didnt provide enough value for its cost, according to Paul Thompson, office systems manager at Ladbrokes Ltd. in London.
Cittios WatchTower 2.4, due in May, starts at $400 per managed node, with volume discounts.