MSPs ID Lack of Network Visibility as Top Problem

By Jessica Davis  |  Print this article Print


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Users hitting YouTube, Pandora and other high-bandwidth sites can bring mission-critical network traffic down to a crawl. A new survey shows that MSPs identified lack of visibility into network traffic as their No. 1 pain. But channel-friendly vendors are rushing to the rescue with solutions that identify problems and help prioritize traffic.

Is the latest cat video that’s gone viral on YouTube clogging your customer’s network? Got more than a few employees listening to their own private radio stations on Pandora? A new survey of managed service providers reveals that more than half of them spend 13 percent of their time troubleshooting sluggish networks—sluggishness that can be caused by employee use of these high-bandwidth Internet applications.

The survey, released by PacketTrap Networks, a network traffic analysis software vendor, identifies the top five pain points for managed service providers.  

The top problem? Lack of visibility into network traffic. A full 75 percent of the 258 managed service providers who responded to the e-mail survey said that they need better granular traffic analysis software, according to the company.

Other top pain points included the following, in ranked order:

2. moving assets to the cloud
3. too many applications to manage
4. managing/monitoring laptop fleets
5. server management

PacketTrap, which has sold its network troubleshooting software to enterprise IT organizations for the last three years, is now looking to broaden its markets and has created a product designed for managed service providers.

Released about five months ago, PacketTrap for MSPs manages traffic and bandwidth from multiple network sources, including MSP NOCs (network operation centers), Amazon’s or other public clouds, or onsite, PacketTrap CEO Steve Goodman tells Channel Insider.

And PacketTrap is not the only vendor going after this growing market.

WAN optimization vendor Blue Coat, which last year acquired PacketShaper from Packeteer, is also pursuing the network analysis and optimization over the WAN market with a 100 percent channel, two-tier program sold into larger enterprises.

The company recently rolled out a new version of its product, PacketShaper 8.5, which focuses on the visibility of the application delivery network, executives at the company tell Channel Insider.

Blue Coat combined its own channel program with Packeteer’s program in December, creating the Advantage Program for channel partners. Blue Coat is putting much of its investment in the new program around deal registration, offering a 20 percent deal registration discount plus a 20 percent up-front discount. The company offers three classes for partners: Authorized, Premier and Elite.

The product supports VMware’s virtual desktop initiative, and Blue Coat has invested in wrapping all the functionality into a single integrated workspace where customers can see everything going on in the network and take corrective action through integrated policies.

For example, customers can set a policy that limits the amount of bandwidth dedicated to a particular link, and then they can see the effect that policy has on the rest of network traffic. Jim Harold, vice president of worldwide channel sales for Blue Coat, points to one customer in Africa who discovered that 70 percent of this network traffic was going to Facebook.

To help support the channel, Blue Coat is offering a program called Blue Box, a low-cost demonstration model that allows them to leave the product with the customer. Partners are also trained on network assessment.

As for PacketTrap’s MSP product, CEO Goodman says that the MSP portion of the business is growing faster than the enterprise business.

"Our growth business is the MSP business," says Goodman. "Hundreds of partners are signed up with us, and we’ve only released five months ago."

PacketTrap supports virtualization, remote control, patch management, help desk and ticketing. Plus they get a real-time dashboard into customer traffic.

PacketTrap offers its downloadable software to MSPs that can be installed at their NOCs. MSPs can then install an agent or many agents at each customer location.

The technology is also available in a pure-play SAAS (software as a service) model, allowing MSPs to monitor customer networks from the PacketTrap NOC. The price of both models is essentially the same to MSPs.

SAAS partners pay on a monthly basis, and there is no upfront cost or cancellation fee. An average channel partner using the SAAS service or using the downloaded version pays about $1,000 month, says Goodman, but some pay much less.

Jessica Davis covers the channel for eWeek and Channel Insider. Her technology journalism career began well before anyone heard of the World Wide Web and has included stints at Infoworld, Electronic News/EDN, and the Philadelphia Business Journal. Her work has also appeared on CNN and Forbes.com. She has covered hardware, software and networking, as well as the business side of technology. She has won several journalism awards, including a national ASBPE award for best staff-written column, and was named Marketing Computers hardest working tech journalist on their inaugural list of top tech journalists. Jessica can be reached at jessica.davis@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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