Understand What You're Paying For: How to Evaluate Software
June 20, 2016

Dirk Paessler
Paessler AG

Share this

The technology landscape is littered with confusing terminology. Some of this comes from vendors chasing popular buzzwords, other times it's the fault of a 30,000-foot view approach to different categories.

The term "monitoring," for example, can mean any number of things, and while more specified terms like application performance monitoring, network performance monitoring, or infrastructure monitoring are supposed to narrow it down, there is often overlap and confusion into what is supposed to go where. This is common across many IT categories, especially once we involve major buzzwords like cloud or software-defined.

Compounding the confusion is the changing nature of software sales, maintenance and operation, with the addition of new delivery models, licensing models and service-level agreements. An IT administrator may have simple goals in mind, but they will have to navigate an increasingly complex world to accomplish them. With that in mind, here are several key areas to focus on when evaluating your next IT purchase.


Purchasing software may seem like a simple task, but there are often unexpected hurdles, the first of which is licensing and payment models. The growth of the "as a service" model has displaced many traditional "pay upfront" models, but it's important to understand whether the software purchased is all-inclusive.

Many products on the market are made up of various components, for which numerous modules and add-ons are available. It is difficult to determine just what will actually be necessary in terms of additional software before you buy, and what's worse, there is often little clarity offered on behalf of the seller. Before you buy, be sure to understand exactly what is needed in a product feature set, and match that up with associated costs to do a true price evaluation.

Evaluation and Testing

In a perfect world, every software can be evaluated and tested with a full-featured trial version. That may not always be the case, and that needs to be considered when making any purchase. IT administrators need easy access to trials, technical papers, data sheets and other information, along with dedicated assistance from the vendor should they run into any problems during evaluation. That's a must, and if vendors don't offer it, that should stand out as a red flag.

During the evaluation phase, it's also important to take note of the implementation process. If there are numerous problems with installing and configuring a trial version of the software, it can almost be guaranteed that the full version will be even more difficult.

Implementation and Usability

Ideally, the evaluation phase is a good indicator of how successful implementation will be. Still, it's key to fully comprehend all the challenges that can come from a complete implementation, many of which can undermine the functionality of the product. In the network monitoring world, this is often where the delivery model of the software comes in, with SaaS models often having different outcomes than appliance models in terms of installation and configuration. Implementations that aren't lightweight and automatic create more opportunities for something to go wrong, and problems may not be immediately apparent.

Usability itself is difficult to vet, as one can't understand the full value of any software until they use it. Here, it's important to trust peer networks and dive into case studies and customer references. The media can play a valuable role here as well, including news outlets that still publish reviews.

Ultimately, software that goes unused is a massive loss in terms of both money and potential technical gains. Keeping these issues in mind can ensure a smooth and simple software acquisition process, one that will enable IT to be successful with the right tools at their side.

Dirk Paessler is CEO and Founder of Paessler AG.

Share this

The Latest

March 01, 2024

As organizations continue to navigate the complexities of the digital era, which has been marked by exponential advancements in AI and technology, the strategic deployment of modern, practical applications has become indispensable for sustaining competitive advantage and realizing business goals. The Info-Tech Research Group report, Applications Priorities 2024, explores the following five initiatives for emerging and leading-edge technologies and practices that can enable IT and applications leaders to optimize their application portfolio and improve on capabilities needed to meet the ambitions of their organizations ...

February 29, 2024

Despite the growth in popularity of artificial intelligence (AI) and ML across a number of industries, there is still a huge amount of unrealized potential, with many businesses playing catch-up and still planning how ML solutions can best facilitate processes. Further progression could be limited without investment in specialized technical teams to drive development and integration ...

February 28, 2024

With over 200 streaming services to choose from, including multiple platforms featuring similar types of entertainment, users have little incentive to remain loyal to any given platform if it exhibits performance issues. Big names in streaming like Hulu, Amazon Prime and HBO Max invest thousands of hours into engineering observability and closed-loop monitoring to combat infrastructure and application issues, but smaller platforms struggle to remain competitive without access to the same resources ...

February 27, 2024

Generative AI has recently experienced unprecedented dramatic growth, making it one of the most exciting transformations the tech industry has seen in some time. However, this growth also poses a challenge for tech leaders who will be expected to deliver on the promise of new technology. In 2024, delivering tangible outcomes that meet the potential of AI, and setting up incubator projects for the future will be key tasks ...

February 26, 2024

SAP is a tool for automating business processes. Managing SAP solutions, especially with the shift to the cloud-based S/4HANA platform, can be intricate. To explore the concerns of SAP users during operational transformations and automation, a survey was conducted in mid-2023 by Digitate and Americas' SAP Users' Group ...

February 22, 2024

Some companies are just starting to dip their toes into developing AI capabilities, while (few) others can claim they have built a truly AI-first product. Regardless of where a company is on the AI journey, leaders must understand what it means to build every aspect of their product with AI in mind ...

February 21, 2024

Generative AI will usher in advantages within various industries. However, the technology is still nascent, and according to the recent Dynatrace survey there are many challenges and risks that organizations need to overcome to use this technology effectively ...

February 20, 2024

In today's digital era, monitoring and observability are indispensable in software and application development. Their efficacy lies in empowering developers to swiftly identify and address issues, enhance performance, and deliver flawless user experiences. Achieving these objectives requires meticulous planning, strategic implementation, and consistent ongoing maintenance. In this blog, we're sharing our five best practices to fortify your approach to application performance monitoring (APM) and observability ...

February 16, 2024

In MEAN TIME TO INSIGHT Episode 3, Shamus McGillicuddy, VP of Research, Network Infrastructure and Operations, at Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) discusses network security with Chris Steffen, VP of Research Covering Information Security, Risk, and Compliance Management at EMA ...

February 15, 2024

In a time where we're constantly bombarded with new buzzwords and technological advancements, it can be challenging for businesses to determine what is real, what is useful, and what they truly need. Over the years, we've witnessed the rise and fall of various tech trends, such as the promises (and fears) of AI becoming sentient and replacing humans to the declaration that data is the new oil. At the end of the day, one fundamental question remains: How can companies navigate through the tech buzz and make informed decisions for their future? ...