Plixer Scrutinizer Review

The ability to do host-to-host troubleshooting allows us to isolate where a problem might be

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use is troubleshooting. Our secondary use is capacity planning, investigations, and reporting. We use it with multiple vendors sending flows to us.

How has it helped my organization?

The solution helps us enrich our network traffic. It's really because of the ability to do host-to-host troubleshooting. We can see and isolate where the challenge or problem might be.

When used to troubleshoot a potential bad actor or issue, we have literally able to cut down our time to resolution drastically. For example, we had a "runaway instance" of hogging and taking up excessive resources from a source to a destination, and this allowed us to isolate it within minutes. Any tool of this type, if you know how to use it, will drastically reduce your time to troubleshoot.

What is most valuable?

The whole thing is valuable because it's such a massive product. We love every bit of it. We use every bit of it that we can. The reporting and generating troubleshooting reports would be the best feature; our host-to-host conversation reporting.

What needs improvement?

Knowing that they're coming out with a new user interface, that is an area where there is room for improvement. There are so many variables. They should limit the variables in the user interface and create some classes, like "simple," "novice," and "expert" to narrow down the variables within it.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using the solution for about five years. We keep the version up to date, within 30 days of whenever it's deployed. We use it on-premise, but we literally just asked for a quote for the private cloud version.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's rock-solid. 

It sits there and it runs solidly. There are multiple people in there every day doing some sort of report-generation or review. We don't have any plan to expand usage.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability is excellent. It more than meets our needs. We had a certain size and we've had no problems scaling up and down.

How are customer service and technical support?

The solution's technical support is second to none.

How was the initial setup?

They set it up for us. It was straightforward. Start to finish, we were done in two days because that's how long they were onsite.

What about the implementation team?

It was done by the vendor. Our experience with them was fantastic. They are some of the most knowledgeable people. I would put their knowledge — the people that they have and how long I've worked with them, how long they retain them, and how good they are, and how much they all know — I would put them on par with the best I've worked with in my 25 years in IT.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Our entire solution, amortized over five years, is in the vicinity of $40,000 to $50,000 a year. There are no additional costs because they're appliances. We buy them full-blown.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We liked this one the best of the ones we evaluated. We chose Scrutinizer over two other solutions. One was the incumbent but it was so long ago that I don't remember its name. We also reviewed LiveAction LiveNX.

The capacity the Plixer system can handle and the cost of that capacity were among the deciding factors, as was the performance when you run reports and get results. This is a big tool and it's analytics. Minutes count when something's broken. Scrutinizer did it faster. If something took five minutes, Scrutinizer took three.

I don't think it lost in any category that we cared about.

Compared to the other solutions, it is in the top two for usability, and it is at the top for capacity, performance, and cost.

In addition, the vendor's years of experience in delivering security and network visibility influenced our decision absolutely. We knew their support was excellent, that the vendor has the knowledge, and there was also the fact that they did this one thing and this one thing only. They concentrate on doing it really well. It wasn't a secondary offering. This is their job. This is their only task, and they do it really well.

What other advice do I have?

Whatever other solutions you want to look at, benchmark them against this solution. No matter what product you're looking at, do a bake-off with this and see who wins. If you don't give him a chance, you're not going to know. You're going to miss out. I really feel, after reviewing three at one time and knowing some other ones, the bang and performance for the dollars, and the capacity and the flexibility; it's really second to none in those situations. Other ones might have matched it in one or two of those criteria, but all they did was match it. They didn't win in any of them.

It's a collector of information and it works great.

Our biggest lesson from using Scrutinizer is that, even as you generate reports and use it, it feels like an educational tool. It helps to educate us. You learn a lot more about general networking using the tool mainly because you understand it, in the same way you learn your ABCs before you learn to spell. It's the whole crawl, walk, run theory.

There are about 25 people using it, and their roles are all IT infrastructure. This helps everybody in the organization, all 3,500 people. But if you ask them, aside from the 25, only five in the broader organization would know that it helps them. You couldn't even ask them whether it helps them because we get warnings and reports and we're able to isolate and troubleshoot in ten minutes an issue that might have taken more than ten minutes. That's why we have the tool. We let everybody view certain things, so if I click "Send a Report" to somebody in IT, all 500 people in IT could look at it and it might mean something to them; it might not.

In terms of maintenance, there are only two people who maintain and run this on an ongoing basis and it takes less than one percent of their time. They have plenty of other stuff to do. That's why it's good to have this tool. It's just stable and solid.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

**Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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