HP OpenView Under Attack (Again)

Small, nimble software companies -- some of them promoting open source, many of them leveraging closed source -- continue to attack big, legacy network and systems management platforms.

The latest assault involves ManageEngine taking aim at the big four systems administration tools: Hewlett-Packard Co. OpenView, IBM Tivoli, CA Unicenter and BMC. ManageEngine's strategy is summarized in a simple marketing message, stating:

"90% of the features of the Big 4 at 10% of the price."
ManageEngine isn't alone. In recent months Nimsoft, GroundWork Open Source, Hyperic and Zenoss (among others) have gained momentum as managed services tools or systems management tools that disrupt the Big Four administration platforms.

ManageEngine claims:
"With more than 30,000 Customers Worldwide, including 3 out of every 5 Fortune 500 companies, we are the fastest growing alternative to traditional network management frameworks." Eager ManageEngine adopters include JPMorganChase, MetLife and MoneyTree, the company adds.
Still, competing with the Big 4 system administration tools is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, using low prices to disrupt OpenView and the other established tools can be an effective strategy. (The feud between GroundWork and HP proves my point.)

But on the other hand, upstart software providers don't want to be viewed as low-cost, low-capability knockoffs of OpenView. In a timeless blog entry from 2007, Hyperic noted "disruption is very much present in the industry of systems management" but insisted that the company didn't want to be known as a cheap alternative to OpenView.

Yes, cheap can be easier on the wallet. But in the worlds of MSP and systems management software, cheap better not mean reduced capabilities. Moreover, low-cost options don't spell the end for big, entrenched systems management software. A case in point: HP's annual software sales grew 19.7% to $3.029 billion in fiscal 2008 compared to fiscal 2007, according to a 10-K filing with the SEC.

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