Despite our initial confusion with selecting the proper object, we found that monitoring Internet applications was easy, and that it gave us useful results. We elected to monitor three Web servers, our enterprise network Domain Name System (DNS) server and our mail host.
Using the graphical interface of OpalisRobot, we quickly defined an event that launched every 15 minutes. Once the event was defined we built five Monitor Internet Application objects and configured them to monitor our Web, DNS and mail servers. OpalisRobot lets users actually log on to servers that provide FTP or e-mail access and attempt to transfer data or send mail. We found this to be a very useful feature. It's possible for a server to respond to generic port tests -- is the POP3 port active? -- but not allow users to log on or transfer data.
Once the objects were built we linked them with the event trigger by clicking and dragging a link to each object. OpalisRobot allows a single trigger to fire multiple events -- a handy feature if you need to run several tests at the same time. This is a great example of where OpalisRobot's flexibility puts Microsoft's bundled scheduler to shame. After linking the objects with the trigger we applied the changes to our configuration. That's all there was to it. We allowed OpalisRobot to monitor the servers for several days and it never missed a beat. All failures were immediately written to the log file. We also could have configured OpalisRobot to send a message to a pop-up window or the OpalisRobot client, or do nothing.
Installation and documentation
We installed OpalisRobot Version 3.6 on two Windows 2000 workstations and a Windows NT server. The installation process was straightforward and we didn't experience any problems. OpalisRobot can be installed three ways: as a client and service, as a client only, or as a remote installation on another Windows NT computer.While the installation options may seem confusing at first glance, they're actually quite straightforward. If you install OpalisRobot on a Windows NT or 2000 workstation, you have the option to install both the service -- the portion of the program that performs the monitoring -- and the client, the graphical front end to OpalisRobot. Workstations running Windows 95 or 98 support only the client. Remote installation gives administrators the ability to install OpalisRobot on multiple servers by copying files across the network. Don't forget that you'll need administrative rights on the remote servers. A note of caution: while the OpalisRobot client supports Windows 95 and 98, the OpalisRobot server requires Windows NT or 2000.