Your favorite tools, Part 2

I’d like to thank all of our readers who were so forthcoming with suggestions in response to my informal survey of favorite management tools.

Last week I reported the results of readers’ favorite tool suggestions. When I sent off this article, I found more readers’ suggestions of favorite management tools still coming in. To be fair to these other readers, here are their favorite management tools to add to the list:

* Cricket is a free tool that some readers absolutely love for its information presentation capabilities. Cricket collects data to monitor trends and graphs the information. It was developed to help network managers visualize and understand their network traffic. It is a redesign of MRTG, which was mentioned last week. One reader mentioned that Cricket is much more scalable than MRTG. According to one reader, "we have completely replaced our Spectrum reports with those from Cricket."

* Netcool from Micromuse. One reader called it the best display tool because it only displays current problems. This is because it de-duplicates, meaning it takes a problem, matches it with the resolutions, and then it clears out the alert automatically. It was also noted for its easy installation and setup. According to a reader, it "has enough open architecture to build into the extremely detailed networks out there."

* Network Health (part of eHealth) from Concord. It is an SNMP capacity-planning tool. Readers note it for its graphical capabilities, which could assist in troubleshooting, as well as providing information to management. A reader reports, "We have used this tool for a while and are very pleased with its performance." One reader says it presents graphs that management wants to see.

* AppManager from NetIQ. AppManager monitors the performance and availability of Windows-based systems and servers. It has a central console that consolidates the information. Readers noted AppManager for its smart product design, drag-and-drop deployment of management policies, and ease of use.

* Holistix Web Manager from Holistix. Web Manager manages the underlying components of a company’s Web infrastructure, such as application servers, databases, Web servers, operating systems, network infrastructure, Internet services, and content. Readers cited Web Manager for its built-in intelligence, ease of configuration and flexibility.

* FastLane DM/Manager and FastLane DM/ActiveRoles from FastLane Technologies. According to a reader, "FastLane DM/Manager is an awesome product. The new Version 5.5 puts it way out there beyond any of the competition." This reader also noted, "DM/ActiveRoles… Awesome! Role-based administration, every Network Admin’s dream come true."

* Freshwater’s SiteScope. This was noted for its ability to manage Web infrastructure. One reader pointed out its ease of implementation, and it has been called well-written software.

* RippleTech’s LogCaster. This was picked for its event aggregation capabilities, low cost and out-of-the-box functionality.

* Nettasking’s MAX NMS. Several readers really like this for its ability to help identify and resolve infrastructure issues. It is also noted for its threshold notification features, which allow administrators to "keep track of issues before they become real problems. This ensures that we have an always-on infrastructure for end users." In other words, it helps to deliver a reliable service. One reader noted that "itѺs extremely easy to implement; I do it in less than 1 hour and it already starts collecting data from my Cisco-based network."

* Ecora. This was named for its usefulness in server documentation. It creates a report of an IT infrastructure in natural language. This product was specifically noted for its ease of implementation and the fact that it is Web-based.

* EasyVista. According to a reader, hardware and software inventory is best done through EasyVista, which is a subscription-based service offering for PCs. EasyVista is liked by this user because it is Web-based and works out-of-the-box.

* Valencia Systems’ Aruba. This is a performance and service-level management tool. One reader was introduced to this product by a hardware vendor during a field evaluation. The vendor was using Aruba to monitor network performance and produce service-level reports for the field trial. The product is easy to implement, and it took less than 2 hours for installation and initial setup. The reader quickly had Web-based reports that showed how the network performed. Another feature that is especially liked is that " each user has a secure, partitioned view of the network. "Reporting can be done via the Web or e-mail. This reader notes that " after initial setup, the system runs virtually unattended. Staff time is spent on analysis and problem resolution rather than on reporting system maintenance."

As in the last group of product picks, ease of use, ease of implementation, and quick time to value were recurring themes. It clear that administrators don’t have the time for long implementations, as well as tools that take a lot of time to maintain. Of course, the functionality and the value of that functionality are also consistent themes through both groups of favorite management tools. The cost of certain tools was mentioned quite frequently as well.

It’s important to note that there is no clear winner. There are many tools that are favorites for many different functions and reasons. Also, it seems point solutions have won out over product suites, in this particular sample.

This is a real credit to our readers for sharing their favorite tools. One reader has already used the information from the first article. Consultants had told this reader and VARs that network management software would cost between $20,000 and $100,000. After seeing the article, the reader found that WhatsUp Gold from Ipswitch met "all of our outstanding requirements for network management," at a fraction of the cost.

This story, "Your favorite tools, Part 2 " was originally published by Network World.

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