Many organizations with lean IT staffs have come to realize that they can’t handle tasks and projects in the same way they used to. In some cases, they no longer have enough employees to adequately deal with all facets of network management. Even in the best of times, a lot of small and medium-size businesses (SMBs) struggle to meet the challenge of effectively monitoring and managing their networks.

Enter Oculan. Working with partners and resellers, Oculan offers a subscription service that’s built around its network management hardware and software products.

Although some will look at Oculan’s solution as a leasing option, the company makes the distinction that its customers are actually paying for a service and not simply leasing hardware. The difference in this case is that Oculan’s partners and resellers provide support for the products and—depending on how the contract is set up—can maintain and update them as well.

“I think that ‘leasing equipment’ is a bit of a misnomer,” said Oculan cofounder Luke Rindfuss. “The basic value proposition is that we’ll deliver via an appliance a software package that encompasses not only network management but desktop management and intrusion detection, and we’ll take on the care and feeding of the platform.”

Rindfuss said the following are included as part of the subscription service:

  • Software maintenance and updates
  • Bug fixes
  • Troubleshooting
  • Features and upgrades

Oculan was founded to provide SMBs with a solution that made sense for their needs. Rindfuss said that prior to moving to the subscription model, the company that became Oculan sold and implemented network management software. It found that implementation times for the product could be anywhere from a couple of months to a year—even up to 18 months in the cases of big projects. This could be extremely costly and complex and did not fit the needs of many organizations.

“We realized that from an expense perspective, from an implementation perspective, from an ongoing care and feeding and full-time hire perspective, this just didn’t make any sense for the midsize and small-to-medium business.”

Oculan provides what, for many, is a much needed solution that organizations can tailor to suit their purposes. Some may need a package encompassing all of Oculan’s products, while others may need only certain pieces.

The Oculan solution consists of the following components:

  • OpticNerve, a network management appliance with requisite software
  • EyeLid, an IDS that reports back to OpticNerve
  • Iris, an inventory and helpdesk automation agent

A fourth component due out later this year will add bandwidth analysis to the picture. Rindfuss said that OpticNerve is the brain of Oculan’s offerings and is always part of any install. All other components report back to OpticNerve.

These products perform a range of functions that cover most of the needs of Oculan’s target customers in the SMB sector.

The case of Stiles Machinery
One company that opted for Oculan’s subscription service is Stiles Machinery of Grand Rapids, MI. Stiles uses OpticNerve with EyeLid to manage the network and monitor for intrusions.

Network Manager Catherine Cole said that three issues factored into the company’s decision to lease equipment and subscribe to Oculan’s service:

  • System maintenance
  • Cost
  • Support and updates

Stiles pays a flat monthly fee that covers the cost of leasing the hardware (two rack-mounted boxes), the software, and the support services provided by Oculan partners.

Cole said that it’s standard practice at Stiles to lease rather than buy.

“I have an understaffed IT department on the networking side, and we were really looking for a solution that would not take away from the daily responsibilities of the network staff. We wanted something that would be maintenance free as far as updates, and Oculan takes care of that for us.”

The primary tasks her staff performs with the system are monitoring the activity it detects. Rather than being tied up with concerns about installing patches, updates, or upgrades to the system, they can focus on responding to the issues detected by the network management system.

Cole said that OpticNerve and EyeLid are currently the only two components Stiles needs and that it has no plans at this point to install other modules.

“We’re pretty happy with what we have,” she said. “It’s doing the job for us, so I don’t foresee in the near future that we’d change the system at all.”

Oculan’s service suits Stiles’ needs because it doesn’t have the staff necessary to adequately maintain comprehensive network management. By leasing on a month-to-month basis, Stiles isn’t making a big investment up front and won’t have to pay for maintenance costs or upgrades down the road. Because a flat monthly fee covers the service it receives from its Oculan provider, Stiles knows exactly how much it’s going to be spending for management of its network.

For many SMBs, Oculan’s service makes good business sense. Companies with limited resources can benefit from offloading certain responsibilities associated with network management, and from a bottom-line perspective, the subscription model can potentially save money. In addition, organizations know up front how much the solution will cost them and can budget accordingly.

Oculan’s network management subscription model represents a viable option for organizations that can’t afford to invest heavily in network management infrastructure and staff. For pricing information, contact Oculan.