Thursday, November 20, 2014

Savision: Pay As You Go & Unity

It’s already some time ago I wrote a posting about Savision’s flagship product, Live Maps. Mainly because after some cool new features were added, it looked like progress wasn’t that big anymore. I know, it sound harsh so let me try to explain it.
The past, back to SCOM 2007x
For a long time there were the SCOM Console, the Visio add-in and SharePoint, enabling system engineers to create live dashboards using SCOM state information. So a gap was there since out of the box it missed a lot, like a WYSIWYG interface and less complexity. Outside the Microsoft offering there was Savision.
They came, saw and conquered. Soon they became the ‘top-dog’ in the market for visualizing SCOM state information in a simple and efficient manner. Back then there were no other companies offering other products with similar capabilities. So no competition besides Microsoft itself. Until now I am still puzzled why Microsoft didn’t acquire Savision and integrated it into SCOM 2012…
Savision kept listening to it’s customers and new features were added. Some minor and other really cool and awesome, like the one enabling to use geographical coordinates for depicting monitored locations. However, IMHO, for some time the changes weren’t that big.
Competition drives innovation…
Remember Windows Virtual PC? And the first version of Hyper-V? Compare it with todays ‘latest & greatest’ version based on Windows Server 2012 R2 or the Azure edition of it. The differences are HUGE. All the drive behind it didn’t come because Microsoft had some time to spare. Nor because they thought it would be nice to add new features. No way!
Microsoft aimed it’s arrows at the virtualization market, ruled by VMware, wanting to take over that position in their run to the cloud. So they became a huge competitor and learned from them, implementing tons of new features into Hyper-V, based on the capabilities available in VMware. Sometimes these were copies and others extensions or even innovations.
Back to our topic
Savision experienced something like that. In this market however, Savision ruled. Other companies learned that visualizing SCOM data had grown into a serious business so they stepped in with their own products, like Squared Up. Others connected their own monitoring platform to SCOM and learned the importance of visualizing that data in a good manner, soon outgrowing the default capabilities of SCOM forcing them to look for other means. A good example here is BlueStripe Performance Center.
Another shiny example is Veeam, the MP for monitoring VMware and Hyper-V based workloads with SCOM. They offer state of the art dashboards and reports. Many of them based on the tooling built by themselves like their own generic report library.
All these made the USP of Savision Live Maps less obvious thus harder to sell. Also their pricing scheme gave some customers of mine the chills.
Top dog bites back…
So Savision was facing some good & healthy competition and other challenges. Instead of hiding they came back with a revamped Live Maps portfolio. And yes, also the pricing scheme is modified enabling companies to use Savision Live Maps almost like a service, based on a yearly subscription.
Live Maps Standard = Live Maps Dashboards
The Standard edition is revamped to Live Maps Dashboards. And this is much more than a name change. First of all, the license model behind has become subscription based, with a price of $125,- per map per year. These licenses are purchased online, an easy and smooth process.
The license model starts from 1 map up to a maximum of 20.  So you only pay for what you need on a yearly basis. Features are:
  1. Automated Updating of Application Views 
  2. Customizable Dashboards 
  3. Comprehensive and Contextual Performance Data 
  4. Datacenter Maps 
  5. Advanced Network Topologies 
  6. Web Console (HTML5) 
    Native System Center Integration
Especially item 3 is really good. It shows you with a single mouse click critical performance metrics.
When 20 maps aren’t enough and/or your business requires more features, it’s time to move on to the next version.
Live Maps Enterprise = Live Maps Unity
The Enterprise edition is revamped to Live Maps Unity. And again, there is MUCH more going on than a name change. The list of features is HUGE and IMPRESSIVE:
  1. Performance Data 
  2. Out-of-Box Services 
  3. .NET Application Discovery 
  4. Dynamically Updating Services 
  5. Automated Updating of Application Views 
  6. Customizable Dashboards 
  7. Datacenter Maps 
  8. Advanced Network Topologies 
  9. Web Console 
  10. Native System Center Integration 
  11. Interactive Geographical Maps 
  12. Real-Time Application Performance  
  13. Native Mobile Clients 
  14. Services Dashboard 
  15. Service Maps 
  16. Service Notifications 
  17. Automated CMDB Synchronization 
  18. Automated Incident Prioritization 
  19. Automated Creation of SCOM Distributed Applications 
When going through the feature list you’ll notice that this version also connects with System Center Service Manager. Enabling to build dashboards for all different kinds of roles. Not only limited to the technical staff but also the IT stake holder up to the level of the CIO and everyone in between.
Other features are HTML5 based performance widgets, dynamic template services of known enterprise solutions like Exchange/SharePoint 2013 and Active Directory. And believe me, there is more to come like .NET application discovery with automatic DA construction!
Today there was a webcast about this newest edition of Savision Live Maps Unity. The recording is found on YouTube:

Savision is back and offers a new set of revamped Live Maps and a revamped licensing model using one-year subscriptions starting at one map up to 20 maps. This allows companies to start small with Savision Live Maps and grow into it and – perhaps – move on to Unity.
The Unity edition is the most sexy edition offering many new or upgraded features with more to come in the near future. Also noticed some interesting Q&A on their website about integrating with other products besides the Microsoft System Center stack. So at Savision HQ innovation is buzzing, which is always a good thing.
However, the competition is here to stay so they’ll bring out revamped versions of their flagship products as well. Which will drive the innovation to another new level. At the end, YOU the customer is on the best end of it all.
Simply because you can download free and fully functional trial versions which are time limited. So you can test drive all different solutions and decide for yourself what fits best to the requirements of your business. And perhaps it can become a challenge to make the right choice since the offering for visualizing SCOM data has grown up rapidly.
But before you rush to the websites of the different vendors in order to download the trial versions, first you’ve got to do some homework, like mapping out:
  1. Business requirements;
  2. Stakeholders;
  3. Consumers of the dashboards (techies only or also process owners?)
  4. What kind of connections? (SCOM only or also SCSM);
  5. Devices for the dashboards (TV screens, smart phones, tablets);
  6. Kind of data (state, performance, alerts and so on);
  7. Nice to haves vs. Must haves;
  8. and so on.
Based on that list the available solutions will be significant smaller, compared to downloading, installing and building dashboards out of the blue. Also will the budget be much smaller when using the latter approach, compared to the first one where you’re building a true business case why certain software should be purchased.
None the less, it will be worth the hassle and effort. After all, technology is only a small building block for any business, not a sole purpose. So the sooner you involve the business stake holders, the better the budget will be.

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