PacketTrap Intros Traffic Analysis Solution for MSPs

By Sharon Linsenbach  |  Print this article Print


Desktop-as-a-Service Designed for Any Cloud ? Nutanix Frame

PacketTrap’s Perspective solution takes a new approach to network management by offering granular traffic analysis for MSPs and their midmarket and SMB customers.

Managed services providers (MSPs) usually thrive in times of economic downturn, as customers look for desktop and server management solutions that can help cut costs, increase efficiency and ease data center management and monitoring burdens. But as these services become more commoditized, there’s less value for customers in these solutions.

PacketTrap has introduced a software solution that takes network and traffic analysis to the next level, allowing MSPs to leverage PacketTrap’s Perspective software to perform granular traffic analysis and determine exactly which users and applications are creating network bottlenecks and slowing down performance.

MSPs using competing solutions from N-Able, Kaseya and Level Platforms can all offer desktop and server management, application monitoring and patch management, says Steve Goodman, CEO of PacketTrap. But most of the hardware and software these solutions monitor don’t tend to fail as much as they used to, leaving many customers to wonder what, exactly, they’re paying an MSP to do, he says.

"We kept hearing that servers, applications, desktops and other data center components just don’t fail anymore," Goodman says. "Even notoriously tricky deployments like an Exchange server are much more stable, especially with the increased adoption of failover, security and backup technologies," he says.

The increased reliability of data center technologies is great for customers, but not ideal for MSPs that have built their businesses on troubleshooting and fixing these problems.

"There’s not much value customers place on having a solution provider come in, look over their data center, applications and servers and say 'Yup, it’s fine, see you next month,’" says Goodman. Especially in the midmarket and the SMB space, these services don’t bring added value for companies with smaller, tightly stretched budgets.

Goodman estimates that of the approximately 50,000 MSPs in the United States, only about 10,000 are using platforms such as N-Able, Kaseya and/or Level Platforms because of this shortcoming. He adds that PacketTrap’s approach is very different from traditional MSP platforms in that it takes a much more granular view, allowing solution providers to see which users, applications and/or services are causing network bottlenecks, hogging bandwidth and otherwise degrading network performance.

A former management executive at SonicWall, Goodman says he understands the challenges MSPs and solution providers face in this economy. PacketTrap originally introduced its Perspective solution to SonicWall’s solution providers, and partners were thrilled, he says.

"The traffic analysis component is really compelling, because video, audio and voice functionality are dragging down performance. These are the major issues MSPs face, and the networks their customers have just can’t handle it – they aren’t built for that," he says.

"We saw that the key problem facing MSPs was helping their customers understanding why their networks are sluggish – are users pulling down YouTube videos? Are they looking at sports scores or streaming iTunes?" Goodman says.

"We can tell you specifically which IP address, which machine, which user is generating the traffic," he says. For instance, Perspective can identify a hypothetical user that’s watching YouTube, draining capacity, hogging bandwidth, and degrading network performance.

Though PacketTrap has a solution developed for a direct sales model, that product is aimed at large enterprises with extensive IT staff and resources. PacketTrap’s Perspective solution, on the other hand, is targeted squarely at the midmarket and SMBs, and the MSP channel is the perfect delivery method, says Goodman. This dual-pronged approach also eliminates channel conflict, since the direct salesforce doesn’t compete with solution providers selling into the SMB and midmarket spaces.

PacketTrap’s Perspective is available to MSPs without any contracts, upfront fees or cancellation penalties, says Goodman. The solution is much cheaper than competitors; priced at $495 for analysis of 250 devices across unlimited customers, $1,000 for up to 1,000 devices, and $1,500 for unlimited devices. Perspective can be offered as either a local software model or as a SAAS model, offering MSPs even more flexibility.

Goodman says many MSPs will bring in PacketTrap’s solution alongside server and desktop management solutions from N-Able, Kaseya and Level Platforms. These MSPs often use these platforms for desktop and server management and PacketTrap for traffic analysis, though Perspective can also perform desktop, server and application management.

"It depends on the MSP. Sometimes they’re tied to a contract with other providers, sometimes we end up dislodging installations of those other guys, sometimes it’s a green customer," Goodman says.

PacketTrap’s MSP program has doubled in membership size since December 2008, and Goodman says the program is on track to quadruple that number by the end of this year, though he did not disclose how many MSPs were participating in the program.

"I’m just floored by the amount of growth we’ve seen," he says. "We really believe it’s all based on this traffic management and analysis capability that no one else in the market has offered," he says.

Sharon Linsenbach Sharon Linsenbach is a staff writer for eWEEK and eWEEK Channel Insider. Prior to joining Ziff Davis, Sharon was Assistant Managing Editor for CRN, a weekly magazine for PC and technology resellers. Before joining CRN, Sharon was an Acquisitions Editor for The Coriolis Group and later, Editorial Director with Paraglyph Press, both in Scottsdale, AZ. She holds a BA in English from Drew University and lives in the Philadelphia suburbs with her significant other and two neurotic cats. When she's not reading or writing about technology, Sharon enjoys yoga, knitting, traveling and live music. Sharon can be reached at Sharon.Linsenbach@ziffdavisenterprise.com.