BMC update previews a future with fewer agents

BMC has added Web transactions and Internet latency tracking to its Patrol Express network monitoring product. One analyst says the agentless product represents the future of network monitoring because agent-based products are becoming too costly and complex.

Today BMC Software Inc. announced the availability of a new version of its agentless network and application monitoring product that gives network mangers more choice of how they monitor their infrastructures.

The upgraded version of Patrol Express 3.0 is the latest monitoring software from the Houston-based management vendor. In addition to monitoring applications and network device performance, the new product also measures Web transactions and Internet latency, allowing users to set rules for defining critical problems. The product can also monitor storage area networks.

But more important than these new individual features is the entire Patrol offering from BMC, said Jean-Pierre Garbani, an analyst with the Cambridge, Mass.-based research firm, Forrester Research. Patrol Express compliments BMC's other monitoring product, Patrol, which uses agents to monitor application performance. Because it does not use agents, Patrol Express is easier to deploy, but relays less granular levels of information.

Garbani said that companies are beginning to move away from deploying agents throughout their networks because they are too costly and complex. Often only 20% of the network needs that level of granular analysis, he said. The other 80% are non-critical systems where IT mangers just need to know if the server is up or down. Deploying agents to monitor those devices is overkill, he said.

Patrol and Patrol Express are very tightly integrated, Garbani said, which allows the products to be used in tandem. "This is likely to be the future of management," he said.

Jason Anderson, a director with BMC, said that customers have responded well to the idea of having a sliding scale of management products because it is flexible and meets business needs.

Corio, Inc., a San Carlos, Calif.-based application service provider (ASP), had been using the Patrol products since the company launched in 1998. It uses Patrol to monitor enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications that it hosts for its customers, which is the core of Corio's business, said Noahal Mundt, a senior architect with Corio.

Right now Corio uses HP OpenView to monitor its network, but the company is considering switching to Patrol Express. Mundt said that HP OpenView is cumbersome to manage and takes up a significant amount of staff time. Patrol Express is simply a lower cost option that may well provide all the information he needs, said Mundt.

That does not mean that he would get rid of OpenView entirely. Mundt said that he would keep the product for troubleshooting.

The days of companies deploying complex and expensive products that use agents throughout an entire infrastructure is likely coming to an end, said Garbani. Less expensive, more nimble products like Patrol Express are gaining interest.

"A product that has value that can be deployed in a couple of hours is going to begin to gather attention," Garbani said.

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