Network management of hybrid clouds is critical: Alessandro Porro, Ipswitch

We understand and secure the customer environment as they migrate portions of their network to the cloud, says Alessandro Porro, SVP, International Sales, Ipswitch.

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The network management software for IT professionals and the organizations isn’t a simple solution in today’s hyper-connected world. The emergence of cloud, growth of data and explosion of devices lead to the varying needs of a robust network management platform. Alessandro Porro, Senior Vice President, International Sales, Ipswitch talks to ComputerWorld India about company’s extensive portfolio that supports on-premises, hybrid and public or private cloud through perpetual and subscription licensing for companies and their network management.

Edited Excerpts.

What are the key changes in the networking industry in 2018? What would be the prime concerns of CIOs and IT managers purchasing network management software?

Hybrid cloud monitoring will become more crucial to customers and CIOs as they migrate parts of their network into the cloud.  Customers still need to have the ability to monitor if these resources are available and they are being utilized correctly.
While monitoring the cloud network is crucial for performance and availability, customers will be very concerned about their spend rate. Cloud has basically infinite resources; but they do continue to charge you more as your app expands its resourse requirements. Monitoring is crucial to create efficient applications while keeping the budget in control.

As the IT resources are being limited by constantly reduced budgets, CIOs are looking to outsource more of their solutions with SaaS. Solutions like email, CRM and HR tools have moved to SaaS and reduced the strain of limited IT resource. This trend will continue in 2018 and beyond.

Another area that will probably keep CIOs awake at night is IoT. How are they supposed to monitor all new devices that keep popping up on their network? What are they looking for when they do monitor IoT devices? IoT devices now range from a wall thermostat to building lighting to a coffee pot.

How crucial is the security aspect in the network solutions? Do you see any new security standards or protocols coming to the fore?

Security is always important in monitoring the state of the network, ensuring the network is up, functional and usable, because a crack in the network that makes it open to anyone means that everything can be compromised. The customer’s ability to understand the sources on their network could be extremely important to customers as this traffic can be highly controversial.
Ipswitch is looking to enhance the ability to identify traffic that could be considered a threat to your company either directly or indirectly.

4 KEY TRENDS OF NEWORK MONITORING

  • Hybrid cloud monitoring to become important as parts of customer’s network migrate into cloud. 
  • Network monitoring is crucial to create efficient applications while keeping the budget in control.
  • IT resources limited by constantly reduced budgets will make email, CRM, HR tools move more to SaaS.
  • IoT to keep CIOs awake at night as they need to monitor all new devices propping up on the network.

Our WhatsUp Gold is a Network Traffic Analysis solution that can interpret Netflow data and allow a customer to understand all the traffic traversing through their network. Besides the products being super easy to deploy and to see real productivity within hours of installation, MOVEit Transfer has the ability to be completely customized for look-and-feel depending on the customer’s needs. It can be branded with customer logos, and all outbound emails can be customized as well. In Automation, the inclusion of VBScript, and now Powershell integration allows customers to connect to virtually any system, either on premise, or in the cloud via REST outbound calls.

We have proven through the years to provide top-notch security, included an FIPS2-approved crypto library, and considerable logging and auditing. And, because our Cloud offering is both HIPPA- and PCI- compliant, we can prove to our customers that MOVEit can be part of a highly-regulated environment. The main differentiators of WS_FTP for secure file transfer are ease of use, customization, and a long pedigree of providing FTP software. The WS_FTP client is known throughout the software universe as the go-to solution for a full featured client. And, WS_FTP server is an easy-to-use platform with a lot of customization features.

There are hordes of network monitoring solutions by various vendor companies. How does Ipswitch differentiate with its core solution WhatsUp Gold?

WhatsUp Gold has a number of areas to separate ourselves from our competition with the main ones being Discovery, Mapping and Cloud Monitoring. With the release of WhatsUp Gold 2017, Ipswitch launched a complete new and refreshed discovery.  Our intent was to deliver a discovery solution that was more inclusive and thorough while being less intrusive to a customer’s network. The new discovery even tackles the issue of device merging, which occurs when a discovery engine believes that two or more devices are the same device. This is very prominent in networks with redundant solutions such as firewalls, routers and switches. Most network monitoring vendors will just tell you to manually add those redundant devices, which both complicates and limits your ability to monitor those devices.

WhatsUp Gold 2017 also ushers in a complete new and refreshed UI with a focus on making the product map focused. Customers do not visualize their network as a list of devices but rather as map of connectivity.  Ipswitch’s focus was to bring this functionality forward rather than as an after-thought, as it is in most network monitoring solutions. The new discovery engine provides a more thorough understanding of the devices and how they interconnect, so even before anything is monitored WhatsUp Gold will show how it interprets connectivity between all of these devices.  There is no need to run a spate map discovery of map creating, it is part of the core solution.

Ipswitch understands that customers are migrating portions of their network to the cloud and is working hard to ensure WhatsUp Gold monitors their network once the migration occurs. WhatsUp Gold can not only monitor the active state of devices in a Hybrid Cloud environment, but can also collect, store and report any metric being collected by AWS or Azure.

How do you see the revenues split of your solutions in terms of on-premise versus cloud? Would more companies trust public cloud with Ipswitch solutions in 2018?

WhatsUp Gold will continue to be primarily focused as an on-premise solution as the majority of our customers continue to focus the deployment and monitoring of their on-premise network. A cloud-based monitoring solution requires the access to the entire LAN-based network externally which is a very big security concern for customers.

While WhastUp Gold will continue to be a premise-based solution, we do believe cloud support is critical to customers as shown by Ipswitch’s focus on cloud monitoring for AWS, Azure, Cisco Meraki, and application monitoring of SaaS services. Ipswitch is contemplating WhastUp Gold as a SaaS solution, as customers start to trust network monitoring from remote services such as SaaS.




ALESSANDRO’S BIG TECH BETS

Cloud

Wireless

IoT

SDN

Security

The transition to cloud is growing; but the primary verticals of Banking, Finance, and Healthcare will have slower uptake than other verticals. Our customers tend to be conservative, and are subject to a heavy regulatory load.  While our cloud solution is HIPAA- and PCI- compliant, many customers prefer to operate their own infrastructure for total control.

We have proven via our cloud solution that pass stringent audits to give the customer a level of comfort that they can pass the same audits. We offer a toolkit that outlines the steps for the customers to go through it. We are devoting significant resources to our hosted solution, and are deploying in Europe this spring (2018). This will help us particularly with GDPR issues, as well as provide a datacenter closer to a large part of our target markets.

What about CIOs and IT managers moving from traditional perpetual licensing to subscription licensing? Any specific trends?

While there have not been specific trends in the network monitoring, Ipswitch does believe that customers like the budgeting flexibility that come with both options. Smaller customers may be more restrictive with CAPEX budgets, as the subscription options allow the flexibility of using day-to-day operating budgets. With WhatsUp Gold 2018 Ipswitch is launching a subscription-based purchasing option for the smaller tier offerings.

While we see some requests for subscription from our customer base, there has not been a large movement for customers to purchase software via subscription, with the exception, of course, of our hosted option. With on-premise software, this largely seems the norm in the software industry.  Customers like to know that there is no chance of losing access to their software, even if they fall off of maintenance.

Occasionally, the customers want to switch to subscription, primarily for two reasons. First, they want a more predictable cost, month-to-month. It’s essentially a ‘set-it-and-forget-it’ methodology with their internal purchasing process, without the need to re-justify the expense every year. Secondly, they are interested in moving the spend from their capital budget to their operating budget. This is all up to the finance organization at the customer end, the approach preferred changes from time to time.

Briefly describe your channel ecosystem in terms of distributors, systems integrators to name a few and what definite benefits are in store for your channel partners?

Our channel globally is a two-tier distribution model with resellers/system integrators. Ipswitch’s only route to market outside of North America is through channel. We do not compete with our partners; our Channel Managers work alongside our partners to support them.

The Ipswitch PartnerSynergy program is a global program for our partners in EMEA, North America, Asia Pacific and Latin America. Features of the program include gold, silver and authorized levels with competitive margin aligned to different requirements for each level; a 30-60-90-day onboarding process as well as free training and certification.

We also have a robust self-service partner community platform that provides sales and marketing resources such as datasheets, competitive battle cards, and whitepapers as well as a deal-registration facility to encourage and reward partners for bringing new business to Ipswitch. Besides providing co-marketing fund support for our partners to run lead generation activities, Ipswitch also invests heavily in our own demand-generation efforts and all the leads generated are passed on to our partners for them to qualify, convert to opportunities, and drive revenue growth.

What technology trends or business imperatives do you foresee that will enhance the business of Ipswitch in next couple of years?

As Ipswitch looks to enhance and grow WhatsUp Gold for current and future customers, we will focus on future solutions around Cloud, Wireless, IoT, SDN and Security.

 

“We feel heightened regulation will to be a major factor in our growth particularly GDPR that has evoked interest in our MOVEit Transfer cloud product, which we deployed to Europe in the Spring of 2018.”

Alessandro Porro, Senior VP, Ipswitch

We feel heightened regulation will be a major factor in our growth. Particularly, GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) has evoked interest in our MOVEit Transfer cloud product, which we deployed to Europe in the Spring of 2018. The business community is still absorbing the effect of GDPR; but we will be helping them by providing software tools, and our expertise to meet the needs. Additionally, the massive growth of data continues to be a major issue for our customers. A scalable solution to deal with terabytes of data is now a must-have, and the MOVEit product line can deal with these requirements.

In addition, the customers are demanding interoperability between software solutions. A vendor’s solution can no longer work like a walled-garden but integrate with other solutions, using open standards and open-source-like methods. Particularly, customers are demanding the ability to interact with REST services, and to expose our software via REST. By doing this, it allows customers to build rich, integrated business systems that meet their needs quickly and easily, using a toolset that is widely understood.

Our IT monitoring product is a generic product used across all verticals. Ideally any end user with a computer network would require a monitoring tool to ensure the smooth running of their operations. The ability of our product to monitor multiple brands of networking products puts us in a position to tap on a wide variety of customers ranging from enterprise, mid-market, small business right up to the governments.

We have to ensure that we continue to relentlessly pursue the satisfaction of our customers by means of providing solutions that are rich in value, for a reasonable investment, and which meet their business-critical needs. We have to ensure that we are always prioritizing the inclusion of customers in the continuous evolution of our product roadmap.