Q

With so many network management applications on the market, can you even differentiate them from one

With so many network management applications on the market, can you even differentiate them from one another?
It is confusing and yet this is an important question that is asked regularly. I will direct you back to some of these previous answers:

  • Network Performance Infrastructures: Not your father's NMS
  • Can you recommend software and/or hardware that will help monitor and/or troubleshoot my network?
  • What are some good management practices for monitoring a network's performance?
  • I'm trying to write the Enterprise Network Monitoring Requirements for our division to show vendors how to comply. What requirements should I put on my list of requirements?
  • What do you think of Nagios host and services monitor as a network management tool?

    The differences you ask about are illustrated best in the white paper (first item) where the "old world vs. new world" perspective is outlined. Most of the ones you mention are "old world" insofar as they are largely device-centric and typically are high maintenance. Many of our customers report shelving their expensive investments in these products, citing (in at least one case referring to OpenView) the need for 3 full-time employees just to maintain the network management system.

    As some of the other answers point out, your first question should really be, "What do I need and what can I do without?" Solutions range from free (Nagios) to really expensive. And effort ranges from very low to unreasonably high. And then there are the feature sets.

    From your list of NMS considerations, it sounds like you have

  • an enterprise-level network that is composed largely of hardware you own
  • strong SLAs with solid ISPs for WAN
  • significant IT budget with sufficient network staff

    If any of these guesses is inaccurate, then you should review the white paper's criteria and identify your needs. I will stop short of a comparative analysis of each of these NMS candidates pending more clarity on your situation.

  • This was first published in September 2004

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