Auvik's On A Mission To Bring 'Frictionless IT' To The Midmarket: CEO Interview

"There are a lot of ways that we can assist with the day-to-day life of an IT manager."

Samara Lynn
clock • 7 min read
Doug Murray, CEO, Auvik
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Doug Murray, CEO, Auvik

"Auviq" is an Inuit word for the block of snow that is used to build an igloo. No one block is more important than the next – each forms the foundation of a sturdy structure that can withstand harsh terrain.  

And just as vital for creating a solid network foundation is a network monitoring tool that provides at-a-glance, real-time insight into what is happening on a network.  

However, a lot of these tools are expensive and can become quite complicated to use. They are sometimes enterprise-level solutions whittled down as smaller business offerings.  

Auvik, which derives its name from the Inuit word, aims to keep network monitoring less complicated, said its CEO Doug Murray, who previously led Valtix, which was acquired by networking giant Cisco last year.

"Simplicity, that is absolutely our thing," Murray told MES Computing.  

"Our mission is to focus on something we call 'frictionless IT.' We focus on IT operations management with a focus on the midmarket and the SMB (small to mid-sized businesses) as well," he said.  

"Frictionless IT," Murray said, "is a state in which friction caused by constant change in IT environments is minimized and change is actually reframed as a tool to accelerate everyone's potential. This includes automating as many IT processes as possible, putting the IT team in a better position to embrace change and quickly adopt new technologies and SaaS apps, but also allows them more time to focus on more strategic IT projects." 

"We tend not to target extremely large enterprise or carrier by design, we focus on suiting the needs of managed service providers in the midmarket space, as well as corporate IT teams that are dealing with this crazy, crazy inflow of new technologies seemingly on a daily basis," he added.  

Still, Auvik -- which is backed by Boston-based private equity firm Great Hill Partners -- has plenty of competition in the space. Cisco, SolarWinds, LogicMonitor and NinjaOne all offer their own network/IT management and monitoring platforms. 

Recent Expansion 

Recently, Auvik announced it had hired a new president and a new chief sales officer, and that it was expanding its product portfolio.  

"What we've been working on product-wise is advancing our core traditional platform called Auvik Network Management, adding a new capability that we have called ASM – Auvik SaaS Management," Murray said.  

ASM can identify over 7 million SaaS apps, Murray said. "That's very powerful for MSPs and for corporate IT teams because [of] shadow IT."

MSPs and channel partners account for approximately 80 percent of Auvik's revenue. 

"We have developed a process for moving customers from direct to channel, creating a structured approach to managing these relationships," Murray said and added that the "vast majority of Auvik's client based is midmarket, "north of 90 percent," he said. 

"It's primarily midmarket, and I'll call it, high end of SMB. In a lot of cases ... they might only have a few devices ... Our sweet spot is typically companies that have somewhere between 500 and ... 5000 to 7000 employees. Sure, there are some that are that are indeed bigger than that. But the vast, vast, vast majority sit in that swim lane."

The company has also made several acquisitions including Wi-Fi analyzer software company Metageek, Sasslio -- which provides SaaS discovery for MSPs, and Boardgent, which provide remote IT management and support. 

Auvik's pricing model is by devices monitored, including routers, switches, firewalls and wi-fi controllers. Devices like servers, workstations, access points and printers are monitored at no charge. 

'Radical Simplicity'

"There are a lot of ways that we can assist with the day-to-day life of an IT manager," Murray said.  

For midmarket customers, Murray touted Auvik's ease of use, simplicity, and onboarding process.  

"Our focus on radical simplicity is a big thing. We don't have professional services, we don't customize the platform, the platform is what the platform is out of the box. And so we try to make it as robust as it can be," he said. 

Murray spoke about the challenges midsized IT face for monitoring their infrastructure over those of large enterprises. 

"If you are a very large bank, where you might have 50 Cisco CCIEs and ... tons of people where you can throw bodies at it, you want to customize it for maybe your internal apps that are customized and so forth -- we don't really focus there, we focus more on the mainstream, IT team that has a team of four or five people that are overwhelmed, that want to spend some time on AI and some other things, they just don't have time. So if we can buy some time back, they can either go get some other certifications or maybe actually spend some more time with their family. And that's really how we try to focus on that work stream." 

The user experience is what differentiates Auvik from competitors, its CEO said.  

"Every product that we have is literally the same look and feel ... when we introduce a new product it feels and adapts in the exact same way of the other products before it," he said.  

Auvik Features 

Auvik's cloud-based network management platform provides a single-pane-of-glass to look at "all the bits and pieces" of a network, including cloud components, Murray said.  

"As of today, we support approximately 700 vendors. The ones that we technically, quote unquote, don't support ... we can still provide some basic visibility."   

As to how Auvik's network management works: "You have a firewall that is not working at the right throughput, or a firewall that's potentially down. You'll get an alert [and] when you hover over [the device] in the map, you'd actually see that it's red. It will give you some action [to perform] ... or ... somebody will say, 'I'm in building three on the second floor, wireless isn't working very well' – you can then hover over [the device in the map] and say ... this specific access point, something's going on or needs to be upgraded or whatever the issue is."  

That information "helps streamline troubleshooting and helps with automation," he said.  

"You'll look at your map and all of your devices, if you see two or three that are red, you start there, and it helps to accelerate your time to resolution. 

Between network management and SaaS management, to be able to provide to your boss a view that says, I know where everything is, it's not sitting in a spreadsheet, I have this broken down and I can troubleshoot in a more rapid sense. And on top of that, I know when SaaS services are being spun up, I now have visibility of that. And we might create a policy that says, we only want these specific AI tools to be used, anything beyond that, we want them shut down, you can identify those tools ... and it creates a place for it to have more value in the ecosystem, as opposed to just always being reactive." 

Auvik partners with vendors steeped in the midmarket. Its platform integrates with other products including Cisco Meraki, Cisco Security Suites, and switches used in the midmarket.  

With that integration "we can notify and say this specific release is going to go end of life ... In some cases, we can say, do you want to upgrade, and we'll do it." 

Canadian Pride  

For Murray, Auvik's continued growth results from its midmarket focus and its roots as a Canadian company.  

"We continue to build out what we need to do not only in North America, but eventually more and more international as well. It [is] important at this stage, as our growth continues, and the company continues to grow at a fairly rapid pace, that we have the right people to help us through this next chapter of the journey," he said about the company's recent executive hires.  

"And even though I'm American, I live in Silicon Valley, the company is a very proud Canadian company. And the culture is a really strong one, actually a very diverse one for an IT-slash-networking company, just in terms of when we look at the team overall. The majority of people that are VPs and above, as an example, are women. It's the culture and the way this was started from the beginning and [the] historical context of being Canadian -- [it's] very important to people at the company," Murray said.  

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