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How to keep your network in tip-top health

Using any one of the six net management suites in this review will help diagnose and cure network ills

By Barry Nance, Network World
May 06, 2013 06:05 AM ET

Network World - If your network has between 1,000 and 10,000 devices and computers, you have a midsized network. Your servers, connections and other resources suffer the same problems as larger networks, but your budget for keeping the network healthy is less than what large enterprises enjoy.

network management

The ideal network management product accurately discovers devices, computers and apps, uses compute resources frugally, graphically depicts network components, monitors the health of every device or computer, gleans its data from a variety of sources, and works with both IPv4 and IPv6.

It also supports all devices, cloud resources, wireless connections and virtual servers, can accept and use complex descriptions of thresholds, can send alerts via e-mail, pager or text to different individuals or groups depending on the problem, can escalate notifications when problems persist, can perform root cause analysis, and can correct some problems automatically. Plus, it integrates with help desk software and with other monitoring tools, produces useful, easy-to-understand and timely reports, and is highly scalable, reliable and is easy to use.

In other words, it has to be able to do it all. We tested six such products in this review (watch a slideshow version of this story):

Paessler PRTG v12.4, Heroix Longitude v8.1, HP Intelligent Management Center (IMC) Standard and Enterprise v5.2, Ipswitch WhatsUp Gold (WUG) v16, SolarWinds Orion Network Performance Monitor (NPM) v10.4 and Server & Application Monitor (SAM) v5.2 and Argent Software Advanced Technology (AT) v3.1, including Argent Commander 2.0 and Argent Reports 2.0.

Argent Advanced Technology earns itself the Network World Clear Choice award, edging Heroix Longitude, which came in second. Advanced Technology gave us sophisticated thresholds, a responsive user interface, accurate device discovery, time-saving root cause analysis, helpful corrective actions and meaningful reports.

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Here are the individual reviews:

Argent Software Advanced Technology (AT)

Argent's Advanced Technology (AT) is a highly scalable, feature-rich and mature monitoring tool. Its Web 2.0-based user interface is intuitive, responsive and productive. AT's discovery process is accurate, its thresholds can express sophisticated networking situations and it can flexibly send alert notifications to multiple administrators.

AT doesn't require agents, but it can minimize WAN link traffic by using them to collect and forward network status information. AT can automatically correct a wide range of network problems.

The clear, meaningful reports are perfect for tracking network failures, spotting imminent performance issues, showing SLA compliance and analyzing capacity planning trends. AT isn't the least nor the most expensive monitoring product. In short - Argent's Advanced Technology is a highly capable monitoring tool appropriate for networks of varying sizes.

AT's browser-based interface uses easy-to-understand, customizable dashboards to make its displays meaningful to an administrator at first glance. It creatively and smartly uses JavaScript to provide multi-level drop-down menus and tabs to organize tasks in a way that aligns perfectly with administrator workflows.

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