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A month ago I shared some of our plans for 2016 and mentioned that I’d be speaking with our customers, asking them a few questions. The survey was very successful in my opinion – I spoke with dozens of customers for 30 minutes each and asked them 14 different questions. I would like to thank all of the survey participants for enduring my questions and sharing their honest feedback.

Before I go and present our findings, a few points to keep in mind:

  • Most of the customers surveyed are larger organizations with $1B in revenue and above. This includes credit card issuers, information brokers, insurance companies, managed service providers, medical device manufacturers, online gaming sites, retailers, telecommunications providers, utility companies, etc. Their needs may be different to smaller organizations.
  • This survey exhibits a bit of a survivorship bias – it is very possible that for a customer to want to spend 30 minutes with me on the phone they need to like indeni to begin with.

So, to begin with, here are some of the recurring themes from the survey:

  • We are considered unique in the market. None of the respondents could point to a true competitor with a similar approach to IT operations. Several customers were required to provide evidence of this during procurement, including comparing indeni with classic SNMP-based tools (SolarWinds Orion, What’s Up Gold, IBM Netcool, HP NNM, CA Spectrum, etc.).
  • 91% of the customers surveyed would, and many already have, recommend indeni to a counterpart at a different company (see NPS question further down).
  • Our support services are considered great, especially compared to other vendors our customers are used to working with. While the individuals working in our support team were repeatedly highlighted as very service-oriented and responsive, several customers complained about how difficult it is to collect debug information from our product when things don’t work as expected. We plan on tackling this in the near future.
  • Customers are interested in indeni covering more devices that they own and operate. This includes FireEye, BlueCoat, Riverbed, Cisco (not ASA / IOS-running gear) and Citrix Netscaler. We plan on adding support for Cisco Nexus and BlueCoat over the next two quarters, together with other products. The general way our customers think about indeni coverage is this: if a device’s failure results in severe downtime and headache, they want indeni on it. The onus is on us to scale the support for more devices well through 2016 and beyond.
  • The proof-of-value (POV, what we used to call POC) process is critical. It helped customers not only justify the purchase of indeni, but also know what the product looks like and how it behaves. It makes for a far faster rollout once the purchase is made.

More specifically, here is our gathered insight per question asked during the survey:

  • How did you find out about indeni?Most common answers were “through our VAR” and “at XXX event” (usually a vendor’s annual conference).
  • Were you involved in the decision to purchase indeni? If so, what were the main drivers for purchasing indeni? What was the opposition to a purchase?Most common answers for purchasing indeni: “proactive monitoring”, “increased visibility”, “we had an outage we knew indeni would have caught.”Most common opposition: “we have several tools, how is indeni different and why can’t we achieve what indeni does with our existing tools?”
  • Have you engaged our Support Services? How would you rate them on a scale of one to five? Why?In most cases the answer was 4 or 5. In some cases it was lower, usually due to the difficulty of collecting debug information. This is something we’re tackling in the product’s user experience.
  • How is your experience with the product? What do you like? What should we improve?Most commonly customers said the product experience was very good and it delivered on what they expected. Some have added that it’s not a big surprise, considering they tried the product before buying it.Many have pointed at our current user interface as needing work. One even said it looks like something he coded in 1996. Thankfully, a new UI is in the works and is set to be released towards the end of 2016.
  • Did indeni replace any tools in your environment?Usually not. When the answer was “Yes”, indeni replaced SNMP-based monitoring tools (Nagios, SolarWinds Orion, What’s Up Gold, etc.).
  • What are the top 3 devices indeni should add to its analysis capabilities? Why?Here it was a bit all over the map. The top 3 devices were different from customer to customer. We did see Cisco Nexus quite a bit (set to be added in Q2 2016), but otherwise there was a lot of variety.
  • Do you use VMWare NSX?92% said no. Most did say they have discussions around it or plan on putting it in the lab in 2016. We’ll keep watching this trend and see when NSX becomes mainstream as we estimate it will be a critical piece of the infrastructure.

Other pieces of feedback below. These are unedited quotes that are just worth sharing. I added our response in parenthesis, where appropriate:

  • Several customers asked to see our product roadmap in more detail. We will be setting up group webinars to go over this soon.
  • “Very satisfied with the product and its assistance, especially on the technical part. Every time I have a question your support is always very quick and professional. You are a professional company, based on what I’ve seen over the past year or so.”
  • “indeni can find things that you could not script on your own.”
  • “Overall the experience has been excellent. I wish we were half as efficient as you were.”
  • “I don’t really know any competitors you may have. I’ve heard other companies talk about config backups, but that’s not what you do. You’re a proactive monitoring solution. I’ve never seen a product that does what you guys do.”
  • “Actually, indeni helped me find a bug in DEVICE-NAME-REDACTED. We have a device in Gibraltar with PPPoE and an alert told us the NTP wasn’t working. Apparently a software bug caused NTP not to work over the PPPoE setup.”
  • “We don’t always know how you check for the things you do. There was some issue that we didn’t understand how you guys are checking for something – which we needed to know during a support ticket with the device’s vendor.” (we are looking for ways to make this a lot clearer, stay tuned)
  • “We sometimes run into maturity issues. indeni, as a company, is very nimble and responds quickly to patches and request for enhancements. We believe in the product. We’re looking forward to its growth.” (maturity, in this case, is referring to us doing a better job of sizing the VM physical device for the amount of load the software puts on it)
  • “Your product did something for my Check Point environment that no other product would do. It improved our operational view of integrity, health config.”
  • “[During the purchasing process] I was asked ‘We have a bunch of monitoring tools, why do we need indeni?’. We had MS SCOM and What’s Up Gold. The effective way to deal with it was running it in a trial and showing what it did that others didn’t. indeni replaced What’s Up Gold.”
  • “I think in the future, big name brands will be competitors for indeni. Like SolarWinds or OPNET. They will try to do something similar.” (we’d be happy to see them compete with indeni, makes for a healthier market)
  • “indeni is the deep-inspection of the integrity of the configuration within the box.”
  • “Going into renewal, we think about this: 1. How many critical alerts did we find with indeni (that we wouldn’t have found otherwise) and would it have affected our production environment? 2. If the alerts are ones that aren’t found by other monitoring systems it adds value. You guys need to make sure we always see enough interesting, unique alerts.” (challenge accepted)
  • “Our VP doesn’t understand the difference between SNMP and what indeni’s doing. If indeni could do more reporting, that some other products would do, that would be a plus in getting him on board.“
  • “Integration between indeni and other products would help solidify it’s position in our environment.”
  • “We need indeni to improve its alerts correlation to reduce the number of alerts. It’s not a common issue, just happened a few times.”
  • “The UI reminds me of something I’ve built in 1996.”
  • “We have a homegrown system that integrates all our IT systems today. We need more APIs to be supported by indeni.” (planned for 6.0, later this year)
  • “I want to see you guys implement the ability to pull an update from indeni in a touch of a button instead of uploading a UPD file.” (in our plans, no specific timeline yet)
  • “One of the most important things is that I no longer get any surprise calls for anything that we monitor with indeni. Our firewall environment was fragile before indeni and I’d get a ton of surprise calls. Right now I don’t get any, almost. I cut down my calls… a lot. My uptime has improved tremendously. My downtime is cut down to a minimum.“
  • “When I come with a problem, you guys always try to get to the solution. I was just working with VENDOR-NAME-REDACTED, and I have a problem with them, and they don’t try to get to the solution. They handle things very slowly. It’s almost like they want to stall it. I don’t get that from you and your team.”
  • “We would like to receive more product upgrade communications.” (noted)
  • “I like the insight report, that I get once a month. It’s useful for me to show to my manager because it shows me how much downtime we’ve saved. The advantage of the Insight report is that I cannot control it or edit it, it’s only true to the data – which is fantastic. It makes sure I’m genuine with manager.”

We are now taking in all this feedback – on the overall level as well as the more specific points people have made. We’ve already started taking action on the feedback and will continue to do so over the next few months.

Thank you all again for your time. We will continue to do our best to satisfy you in 2016 and beyond.

BlueCat acquires Indeni to boost its industry-leading DNS, DHCP and IP address management platform to help customers proactively assess network health and prevent outages.