In search of... an affordable management platform

Those who work on enterprise networks can legitimately ponder the acquisition of big-ticket complex network management platforms. Such systems include Tivoli's Business Systems Manager and Enterprise Console, CA-Unicenter, BMC PATROL and MAINVIEW, HP OpenView, and other industry heavyweights. But with six-figure budgets, 6 months or longer to pilot and deploy, and normal requirements for serious tailoring and customization, such products aren't reasonable for many small- and medium-size businesses. What kinds of options do they have?

In addition to platform centric offerings like Microsoft's Systems Management Server (SMS) or similar products from Sun Microsystems and others, there are some excellent third-parties in this sector of the network management business as well. One of these is

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AdventNet Inc., which offers an excellent general purpose network management toolset called ManageEngine OpManager 5 that includes a broad range of network monitoring and management tools for the extremely reasonable price of $795 for a single-user license (as the number of licensed users goes up, the per-user price goes down: $1,295 for two users; $2,495 for five users; annual maintenance and subscription fees cost extra).

For a miniscule fraction of what an enterprise management console and necessary accoutrements cost, OpManager 5 includes the following components, above and beyond auto-discovery of devices in each covered class and special focused network maps that provide immediate access to all relevant devices by class:

  • WAN Monitoring: provides real-time data about health and traffic on WAN links and the routers that serve them, including lots of graphs, alerts, and reports. Special capability for monitoring Cisco gear.
  • Server monitoring: provides graphs and reports on CPU, memory, and disk utilization, with notification and alarm escalation capabilities. Services monitoring includes coverage of SQL Server, MySQL, Oracle, Lotus Notes, and Exchange. Works with SNMP and other proprietary management protocols.
  • Switch monitoring: status information on switches and switch ports, traffic monitoring with user-determined threshold-based alarms and alerts. Port mapping and attached device status check tools also included.
  • Printer monitoring: real-time view of all networked printers with status and job control capabilities; works with any devices that support the SMTP Printer MIB (which most networked printers do).
  • CPU, Memory & Disk monitoring: provides basic system health and utilization statistics for any devices that work with SNMP and various proprietary non-SNMP monitoring agents (including Windows OSes).
  • Fault monitoring: provides a single, unified view of faults, events, alarms, and alerts across networks, systems, and instrumented applications. Supports proactive networking monitoring and problem resolution.
  • Performance, services, and application monitoring modules offer focused views on specific performance metrics, network services, and applications as delivered (additional customization can add to these capabilities; OpManager supports numerous standard and proprietary APIs).
  • Networking tools include all kinds of SNMP MIB browsing elements, switch port mapping items, and standard IP tools (PING, traceroute, netstat, and so forth)--all available through the OpManager console.

Given the amount of ready-to-run functionality available from OpManager right out of the box and its comparatively low price, anybody for whom a giant budget for network management is out of the question might want to give this package a look. Its price-value combination is hard to beat!

Ed Tittel is a full-time freelance writer, trainer, and consultant who specializes in matters related to information security, markup languages, and networking technologies. He's a regular contributor to numerous TechTarget Web sites, technology editor for Certification Magazine, and writes an e-mail newsletter for CramSession called "Must Know News."

This was first published in December 2004

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