Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Third Party Management Packs: How Expensive They Can Get…

Wow! Bumped into this one today. A customer of mine is running a couple of F5 Load Balancers and wants them to be monitored by SCOM. Which is nothing but a normal request.

There are multiple ways to get this on the road:

  1. Customization: build the required monitoring yourself based on SNMP, OIDs and the lot;
  2. xSNMP Suite: Does not cover F5 out-of-the-box so additional customization is required;
  3. Jalasoft: Covers F5 out-of-the-box. Doesn’t come cheap but offers really deep network monitoring, adding much to any SCOM environment;
  4. F5: Delivers a MP as well.

Since budget is really something to reckon with, the Jalasoft solution seemed to be out of range. So Options 1,2 and 4 remained. However, time to deliver is short as well, so a quick-fix is required. Which left us with Options 2 and 4. Even though I like the xSNMP MP Suite, it doesn’t go deep enough for F5 LBs. So at the end – we thought – the MP from F5 remained, Option 4.

And to my knowledge F5 delivers this MP for free. So I started to search the internet and found it. At least, that’s what I thought. But when I wanted to download the MP I ended up with an Access Denied error:

Hmm, strange. Time for some more investigation. And soon I found the reason why the MP wasn’t to be downloaded anymore, at least for FREE that is:
Mind the sentence: ‘…The price of the Management Pack will be $10,000 US plus support and is shipping now….

Say what?! A MP which was available fro FREE has gotten a price tag of 10K? Really incredible, also when one looks at the current economical situation. Companies are on tight budgets and some how somewhere in F5 there are some persons who think they can ask prices like these and SELL it as well.

Therefore I have advised my customer to abandon Option 4 and to take another look at Jalasoft when they want monitoring-out-of-the-box. Agreed, Jalasoft doesn’t come cheap, but won’t hit the 10K that fast AND adds more capabilities besides F5 monitoring as well, where as the F5 MP only offers F5 monitoring and stops there and you with empty pockets…

This really makes me wonder what some companies are thinking. Perhaps along these lines: ‘Hmm. The company has already spend some money on SCOM. So they have much more of it. Let’s ask ridiculous prices and see how many companies fall for it…’.

At the end of the day companies trying to sell MPs with prices like these make it only harder for themselves. Because nowadays customers don’t just buy hard- or software anymore. They also look at the costs of manageability of that hard- and software, thus taking it into account as well. And when it costs 10K (!) to monitor some hardware, even when it’s F5 LBs, customers will look for alternatives which are way cheaper ending up with LBs from other vendors. Don’t know where this fits into the business model of F5…


Lynne Taggart said...

Yes, it is very expensive, and we are using it across a number of networks. so times $$ aginst each network.

But when you throw $$$ into F5 equipment that appications depend on, you end up with you hands tied up.

Marnix Wolf said...

Hi Lynne.

You're correct and therefore it's double bad behavior of F5. It makes people looking for alternatives. One I didn't mention but is certainly viable as well is OpsLogix.com. When you send these guys the OIDs and SNMP dump, they can build a good native MP for you for less money :).

As I see it, F5 forces people to look for alternatives and when they're not there, to build them.


george said...


I wonder if v3 is more stable. From what I've read on devcentral it has more bugfixes than new features. Is it still limited to LTM and GTM?