I attended the New England Area VMware User Group meeting in Newport, Rhode Island last week.  It was a great opportunity to see what challenges IT managers are facing, what solutions they are adopting, and what problems remain to be solved.  It was also a good opportunity for me to revisit what I learned many years ago in studying the research of  Clayton Christensen and his concept of Disruptive Innovation.  Two of my clients have what I consider disruptive technologies.  I’ll write about Tek-Tools in this post, and then cover  StorMagic in a subsequent post. 

Tek-Tools offers the Profiler Suite of monitoring, reporting, and forecasting tools for servers, storage, applications, files, and, yes, VMware.  Why is it disruptive? Tek-Tools’ Profiler is easy to install, easy to afford, and easy to use, and it’s “good enough” for the bulk of today’s customers.  It does not overshoot current market requirements.  It gives quick answers to important questions like: How much storage do I have installed? How fast is it growing?  How much is allocated? How much is used? When will I need more storage? Where is my performance bottleneck? How old is my data? Who is violating data retention policies? Which virtual machines are using which storage? Which virtual machines are no longer in use? Which physical machines could I consolidate onto a  VMware ESX host, without encountering performance issues? Where is my orphaned storage? (That’s a technical term that means I deleted the virtual machine, but forgot to return the allocated storage to the storage pool.)  

Profiler’s reports are delivered automatically, and they are actionable. They save customers money, help customers avoid problems, and enable informed decisions.  I admit to bristling a little, when someone says, “But Tek-Tools doesn’t automate anything.”   The fact is that you can use the output from Profiler to trigger the running of scripts that you write.  Or Profiler can provide a triggering input into your favorite IT automation tool.  But most companies neither want nor can afford today’s system automation tools.  Good reporting, good monitoring and good forecasting and the ability to trigger scripts is good enough for most customers.  Tek-Tools could have gone down the path of so many others, who burned through 10s of millions of venture dollars overshooting the needs of the majority of IT professionals and pursuing the “I can automate everything” holy grail.  Instead, Tek-Tools keeps posting steady growth, quarter after quarter after quarter, helping customers make informed decisions.  The company recently announced year-over-year growth of 45%, which is not bad in a down economy.  

It is tempting for founders of startups to promise more than they can deliver.  It is also tempting to succumb to product management that is at the mercy of sales reps that say, “If development would only add this feature, I could sell the product.”  Personally, I like the Tek-Tools model better.