by Susan Wright
NETSAS is an Australian company which specializes in developing network management solutions. Enigma NMS is one of the company’s many products and services that provide network management capabilities.
Mikhail Chelomanov is a Director at NETSAS. In my recent interview with Mikhail, we discussed his background and how he developed Enigma NMS.
Tell us about yourself first. What is your management style? Where did you go to school and work in the past?
I received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the Moscow Institute of Gas and Petrochemical Industry in Russia back in 1983. Between 1983 and 1985, I served in Russian armed forces. From 1985 until 1992, I worked at Far-Eastern Computer Company, installing DPD-11 computer systems across the far-eastern region of Russia. In 1992, I moved to Australia as an independent migrant. Between 1992 and 1994, I worked at Southern Cross Computer Systems in Melbourne as a Support Engineer. Between 1994 and 1995, I worked at Monash University in Melbourne as a PC Support Officer. From 1995 to 1996, I worked at Austin Hospital in Melbourne as a Network Support Engineer, where I also achieved certification as a Novell Engineer. In 1996 I worked for Hewlett-Packard in Melbourne as a Network Support Engineer, overseeing the Asia-Pacific Region. Between 1996 and 2006, I worked at CITEC in Brisbane as an Enterprise Network Management Specialist, providing network management services to the Queensland Government. Between 2006 and 2010, I worked at C4 Systems in Brisbane as a Senior Systems Consultant. From 2010 to 2012, I worked at the Public Safety Network Management Centre in Brisbane as an Enterprise Network Management System Developer. In 2012, I became self-employed.
Ever since arriving in Australia I became very passionate about network management monitoring. Everywhere I worked, I saw how important that component of business was and how ineffective and bulky the existing network management solutions were.
I started developing custom scripts to enable the automation of many tasks and data integration. To my surprise, the systems I developed made a huge difference for the optimization and automation of network management tasks, enabling delivery of effective and efficient services at minimum cost.
Tell us how your company started and when. Who was involved and what did each person do?
I founded my company in 1996 and focused on providing network management consulting solutions and services. In 2004, I began the development of integrated network management and monitoring solutions. This was based upon the wealth of operational experiences and demanding challenges that network engineers encounter in the real world on a daily basis.
Every feature in Enigma NMS is a response to those real life operational challenges. It is a fully featured FCAPS (fault-management, configuration, accounting, performance, and security) solution with extended and integrated capabilities.
Enigma NMS was first deployed in the Queensland Department of Main Roads in 2006, and proved to be a real success. It was an effective and comprehensive monitoring and management system for the entire network infrastructure.
Tell us an interesting story about your business. Were there any “wow” moments? Anything funny or unusual?
In the final stages of a large road project in South East Queensland that contained a complex automated systems designed to manage traffic congestion, fire, and other emergency situations, some unexplained anomalies started to occur which resulted in expensive delays in project commissioning.
The problems lasted for a while until the department of main roads asked for my product to be installed to assist with troubleshooting. Literally after four hours, my system had uncovered a number of serious network issues, which had caused the main server to lose connection with the equipment, which in turn triggered certain emergency sequences, such as turning on fans to blow the smoke from the tunnel or call the fire brigade.
Another “wow” moment occured when Enigma NMS fully managed all carrier services, including telecommunications bill validation, which is used within the enterprise network environment.
Validating telecommunications bills is a specialized, labor intensive, tedious and error-prone activity.
If the client doesn’t have the time, resources and tools to validate telecommunications bills, they are just being paid.
It is a well-known fact that the carriage providers sometimes make billing errors, quite often in their own favor. With telecommunications bills running into millions of dollars, even a one percent error translates into a lot of needlessly wasted money.
When the bill validation module was commissioned and tested, the results were quite surprising. The uncovered errors were in the range of seven to eight percent of the carriage budget expense.
With a $10 million annual telecommunications budget, which is not uncommon in government departments, a seven to eight percent error represents an amount around $700,000 to $800,000.
The largest deployment to date is in the Queensland Government, where Enigma NMS manages and monitors over:
The above infrastructure is managed and monitored from the single instance of Enigma NMS, meaning that no additional licenses are required.
Enigma NMS can be configured as a High-Availability Cluster, where Master and Slave Enigma servers are placed into geographically different locations, which represent the highest degree of operational reliability and business continuity.
What does your company sell and how does it make money?
In addition to the development and marketing of our flagship product – Enigma NMS, my company develops custom network and business management solutions, which compliment our offered services.
This may include the development of a custom monitoring capability or service provisioning system, which is critical to business but does not exist in any of the current vendors’ capabilities.
Revenue streams come from Enigma sales, subsequent support contacts, managed service and network consulting and audits.
Which companies do you consider to be competitors?
HP OV Suite, CA eHealth, Solarwinds and ManageEngine are our primary competitors.
What makes your products and services better than competitors’ offerings?
Most of my competitors split their offered capabilities into separate products and modules.
For a customer who needs to cover all or most of their operational and business requirements, they have to purchase multiple products, quite often more than five from the same or different vendors.
Each product has a limit on the maximum number of managed elements. So if number of managed elements exceeds this maximum, another instance of the same module needs to be purchased along with a followed integration effort.
Each module instance may require one or more (application and database server) dedicated hardware server or virtual machine.
While this good for the vendor’s business model, it puts serious constrains on network managers, who need to integrate these multiple products, to ensure they all function as a single system with access to the same database of nodes, sites, clients, contacts, carriage etc.
This implementation challenge require considerable expenses associated with hire highly skilled staff such as server and database administrators and programmer to develop in-home integration scripts, which can be quite difficult to maintain.
Quite often my competitors’ systems are designed this way. While some of the functionality is enabled out-of-the-box, a lot of the functionality must be configured manually, which increases the effort and cost of overall system maintenance.
In a large deployment with many hundreds of thousands of managed elements, the cost of this monitoring and management infrastructure quickly spirals out of control, delivering very little increase in business performance at very high cost.
Enigma NMS, on the other hand, is an extremely portable, integrated, and automated solution. All features are available within the same product therefore eliminating the need for inter-product integration.
Enigma NMS does not require any knowledge of Linux or experience with server and database administration or programming.
Enigma is an extremely portable product which can be deployed as hardware or as a virtual appliance. It can be sent anywhere in the world, where it will provide full monitoring and management of an entire enterprise network environment and servers infrastructure together with carriage and applications via the single VPN channel across the internet.
How big is the company in terms of its workforce?
We are small but highly specialized company where people with unique skills deliver the best solutions for our clients.
What are the biggest growth catalysts for you right now? Tell us about any patents or other IP.
We have the ability to offer Enigma as a managed service along with a fast developing cycle of new emerging technologies. Currently I have no patents or registered trademarks, but I am dealing with a patent attorney and IP specialists.
Is there any announcement you’d like to make?
We listen to our clients very carefully and are constantly extending and optimizing Enigma capabilities to address new and existing operational and business requirements. In fact, we encourage our clients to be creative in how our solutions can assist their business even further. The fact that all data in Enigma exists in the same database enables creation of any operational or business logic. If our client has a need for particular functionality which is not present in the latest release, we will develop it within just a few days. If this functionality can be useful for other clients, the development effort will be free of charge for the requester.