Review: Nexthink for Integrations

This independent review is part of our Integrations 2013 Group Test.

Executive Summary

Elevator Pitch In the emerging IT management category ITOA (IT Operations Analytics) Nexthink provides a very different view and, when integrated into ITSM, can provide a real-time analytical interface into processes for proactive, rather than reactive management.
Strengths
  •  Offers a completely different view of information within an enterprise
  • Everything is displayed in real-time and with the integration options to key ITSM tools, the combination really lends itself to larger organisations and those running complex migration/transformation projects
Weaknesses
  • As ITOA is a new category, it requires financial commitment from other departments to cover this level of end-to-end management and analytical capability – Probably not for the very small organisations.
Primary Market Focus Based on the information provided, Nexthink’s customer base is more focussed on larger companies.They are classified for this review as:Specialised tooling, requiring integration to ITSM.

Commercial Summary

Vendor Nexthink
Product Nexthink V4
Version reviewed V4.4
Date of version release May 2nd, 2013
Year founded 2004
Customers 450+
Pricing Structure # of Physical and Virtual Endpoints/Desktops# of Citrix UsersPerpetual and SubscriptionDiscount for volumeMSP/SaaS pricing is available to partners that want to deliver End-user IT Analytics as a service
Competitive Differentiators
  1. Nexthink provide End-User IT Analytics – the tool analyses data from all the endpoints and extrapolates information from that perspective to identify trouble spots.
  2. The analysis is in real-time – patterns and any anomalies detected are constantly being evaluated.
  3. They turn the end-user and endpoint data into a level of intelligence and insight to sit alongside IT Service Management and offer a level of integration with known vendors to complement them in a number of areas.

Independent Review

thumbnailThere is something always beguiling when products talk of heat-maps and show dynamic visions of where network paths are failing, and to see it in real-time brings out the magpie in technical reviewers.

Starting at the top, they provide a customisable dashboard that would catch the eye of CIOs and the review got to examine a little more breadth to the product.

In essence a driver agent is sent to all target endpoints and it sends the real-time data back to their own engine where the information can be shown in a dashboard display of high level information about the number of issues. The collector can even send back information when the endpoint’s CPU is overwhelmed.

Applications for end-points can be profiled before a rollout – for example testing out builds on particular hardware to see how effective the build is for machines.

Once you come away from the high level dashboard, there are detailed “heat-maps” that begin to show you where issues are building up, and specific trouble area can be drilled into. These lower level graphics are typically what operations centre staff and advanced technical support will get the real value from.

The level of intelligence to extrapolate information, purely from the end-point perspective is what makes the product stand out.

Whilst the product can stand on its own merits, its real value is when it is integrated with ITSM and their partnership framework opens up the right doors for the company. Nexthink have integrated with leading ITSSM tools including BMC/Remedy, LANDesk and ServiceNow.

Their value is to help organisations to see the big picture and enlightened organisations are realising that they need this more holistic view.

Integration and specific recognised criteria

Nexthink have worked to develop an ITSM Solution Pack that maps their capabilities with 17 of the 28 ITIL 2011 processes.

They are not an ITSM tool, but they recognise that the real value of their product comes with integration into key ITIL processes.

Security Controls

They have also developed a Nexthink Security Solution Pack and have mapped the product with leading security standards.

Asset and Configuration Information

Their integration partners include: Microsoft SCCM, Symantec/Altiris, LANDesk, Matrix42

They bring in the information to help build up their picture of the end-point interactions.

Additional Areas of Integration

  • Event Correlation

Nexthink have integrated with Event Correlation Engines with companies such as BMC, CA/Nimsoft, HP and IBM).

Because they report the global end-user events, they can correlate those to show in real time which server is affected (the Nexthink collector is only placed on endpoints).

  • Security

Nexthink can also add an extra measure of vulnerability assessment and can assist with compliance testing.

  • Transformation

An ideal area for consideration is the use of Nexthink for large, complex Transformation projects – combined with standard ITSM tooling the combination can provide much better guidance on what is going to be involved with a large transformation project.

Nexthink Service Management Customers

From the Nexthink Brochure

  • Innovator of End-user IT Analytics for security, ITSM and workplace transformation.
  • Self-learning and artificial intelligence constructs meaningful patterns and IT analytics – patterns are analysed in real time (every minute), enterprise wide.
  • What makes Nexthink unique is the real-time analytics of all executions and all network connections and the corresponding visualisation that provides new visibility and insight at that moment in time.

In Their Own Words:

Nexthink is the innovator of End-user IT Analytics for security, ITSM and transformation.  Nexthink turns end-user and endpoint data into intelligence and insights. Our software uniquely provides enterprise-wide, real-time analytics covering all endpoints, all users, all applications and all network connections with visibility into your IT infrastructure and service delivery.  Nexthink helps IT Departments connect, communicate and collaborate to achieve their major goals and to optimize endpoint security, operations, support, and workplace transformation projects.  Nexthink real-time analytics and visualization extend help desk, server monitoring, APM (application performance management) and PCLM (PC lifecycle management) tools and provides essential visibility for IT Governance.

Nexthink serves mid-size and enterprise companies utilizing a leveraged partner model.  Nexthink is a registered trademark of Nexthink SA. To learn more, visit http://www.nexthink.com

 Screenshots

Further Information

This independent review is part of our Integrations 2013 Group Test.

Review: Nexthink

This independent review is part of our 2013 Incident and Problem Review. See all participants and terms of the review here.

Executive Summary

Elevator Pitch If systems management monitoring takes care of servers, Nexthink presents you all you need to know about the end-user side of the coin.

Nexthink sits apart from the nuts and bolts of Service Management tooling, but offer guidance to analysts to help expedite resolution with real-time End-user IT Analytics, integrated into major ITSM tools to significantly reduce problem diagnosis times.

Strengths
  • Lightweight, non-invasive kernel-driven footprint on end-user targets helps define trouble spots in real time
  • Complements and integrates with existing IT Service Management deployments
Weaknesses
  • With so much technical capability, it needs a very strong balancing hand of strategy to get the best of a combination of this product, a service management suite, and server monitoring collaboration.
Primary Market Focus Based on the information provided, Nexthink’s customer base ranges from Small (100 end users) to Very Large (250,000+)They are classified for this review as:Specialised tooling, requiring integration to ITSM.

Commercial Summary

Vendor Nexthink
Product Nexthink V4
Version reviewed V4.3
Date of version release February 19 2013
Year founded Founded in 2004.Turnover is not disclosed but 100% yearly growth. Today 2 million users’ licenses sold
Customers 400
Pricing Structure # IT users with perpetual or subscription license. On premise Enterprise product and Cloud/SaaS offering (Q2 2013)
Competitive Differentiators Nexthink provides unique real-time end-user IT analytics across the complete infrastructure.This perfectly complements existing performance monitoring systems to drive better ITSM initiatives; end-user IT analytics are used to:

  • 1) Diagnose and isolate problems in real-time for service desk to become more effective and responsive for higher customer satisfaction
  • 2) Continuously compute metrics and KPIs for proactive actions so IT operations can improve service quality for higher business agility and productivity
  • 3) Configuration and change management is fully under compliance control.
Additional Features Nexthink’s product does real-time discovery, dependency and relationship mapping, real-time activity monitoring, alerting and reporting on all object and data analytics available.

It doesn’t rely on any external product or data to function. However integration methods exist to enrich Nexthink data with external data sources (E.g. Active Directory, Event database, CMDB), to export Nexthink data/analytics to other tools to create end-to-end correlated views/results (CMDB, ITSM, Security Events Management).See an example here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSstzl_KMdc

Independent Review

Credit should be given to Nexthink for putting themselves up against “traditional” ITSM Vendors, as their product does not do traditional Incident Management and Problem Management.

What it can do, however, is significantly shorten the amount of time it takes to resolve an incident and/or problem, by showing end user data in real time.

Nexthink have established major partners and product integrators with companies like BMC, HP and ServiceNow and provide a button on their ITSM consoles to allow analysts to view the data when required.

It almost presents itself as the super-hero of incident and problem diagnosis.

But following that super-hero position for just a moment, it is easy to get carried away with the technical potential of a shiny mapping, real-time toy.

It is much more than that, and it needs a sharp strategic mind to position it – remembering the key drivers of any ITSM related deployment.

The potential to drive down incident resolution time, and more importantly problem root cause analysis time makes it a compelling accompanying tool alongside an ITSM tool, to achieve tangible business efficiency benefits.

Widening the scope to look at the effects of IT Transition projects, and again the potential business benefits of understanding what specifications end user machines need to be to ensure speedier access to services, for example, could reap significant rewards.

Systems Monitoring vs. Real Time End User Monitoring

Nexthink acknowledge that infrastructure monitoring is an established discipline.

There are all manner of event and systems management tools that can also integrate into service management tools to present an organisation with enterprise level management.

What Nexthink do is focus on the end user perspective.

A kernel driver that is deployed out to end user machines, and loads into memory on boot-up.

Real-time data is then loaded up to a central server which can then be interrogated as and when required.

Incident & Problems Scope

Forrester research has shown that 80% of the time during the lifecycle of an incident is spent trying to isolate the problem itself.

Source: Forrester (http://apmdigest.com/5-it-operations-challenges-%E2%80%93-and-1-main-cause)

Nexthink offer a way of shortening that timeframe, mapping out relationships between failing components to see where the problem has occurred.

For example, a user may ring with a general issue of a slow response time.

Ordinarily, a support analyst would then have to drill down through applications, servers, configuration mapping to see what may be affected and how.

Nexthink can demonstrate where the issue lies and could isolate the failing link in the chain a lot more rapidly.

Nexthink’s own interface can even be used to directly query the user’s asset to assist with the diagnosis.

The information gathered can also be used to supplement the CMDB in the ITSM tool.

All this could then be used to drive more accurate logging and categorisation, and linking to any subsequent processes to resolve the situation.

The knock-on benefit is improved resolution times, potential workarounds and knowledge-base material, not to mention improved reporting.

When Nexthink is integrated with an ITSM tool, the support analysts will work off the ITSM console, but they will have a Nexthink button to be able to access the real-time analytics data.

Looking in the context of incidents and problems, whether major or otherwise, the ability to have multiple teams looking at the related end user data in terms of applications and services is invaluable.

Conclusion

There is a lot to appeal to the technical heart, looking at the depth of analytical data possible.

Key points to remember though – it takes everything from the end user point of view, and is not geared to sit on servers themselves to do that level of monitoring.

Taking just Incident and Problem Management, it is easy to see how the investigation can be shortened as an incident call comes in.

But looking at Problem, it can take proactive root cause analysis to another level.

If that is then combined with ITSM tools and their own abilities to manage multiple records (in the case of Major Incidents or Problems) then it is a powerfully complementary part of a company’s overall ITSM strategy.

Nexthink Customers

Screenshots

Click on the thumbnails to enlarge.

In Their Own Words:

Nexthink provides unique real-time end-user IT analytics across the complete infrastructure. This perfectly complements existing application performance monitoring systems to drive better ITSM initiatives.

End-user IT analytics are the path to better IT quality, security and great efficiency and cost savings.

Nexthink provides IT organizations with a real-time view of the IT activity and interaction across the complete enterprise, from the end-user perspective. This unique visibility and analytics give IT the capability to truly evaluate and understand how organizations are performing and rapidly diagnose problems or identify security risks. Nexthink uniquely collects in real time millions of events and their respective dependencies and relationship to IT services from all users, all their applications, all their devices, all workloads, and all network connections patterns (server accessed, ports, response time, duration, failure, timeouts, etc.).

Nexthink helps IT connect, communicate and collaborate to achieve their major initiatives and improve their business end-user’s IT experience. Nexthink is complimentary hence integrates well with traditional application performance management (network and server), help desk, operations management, and security tools and eases ITIL change and release management processes.

Further Information

Group Test Index

This independent review is part of our 2013 Incident and Problem Review. See all participants and terms of the review here.