How we tested network management wares

We evaluated each product in several different areas: Discovery and enumeration of devices and computers, support for a variety of device manufacturers and device types, global directory integration, graphical depiction of the network, monitoring of network node status (availability), performance and health, alerts and notifications when network problems occur, automated corrective actions, maintenance of trouble tickets (or integration with a help desk tool), support for virtualized environments and the production of useful, informative reports.

In particular, we wanted these reports to establish baselines, show available and unavailable devices, log device availability histories, identify trends and help us spot conditions that could result in future network problems.

Our test environment consisted of six routed Fast Ethernet subnet domains that have T-1, T-3 and DSL links to the Internet. We installed the network monitoring software's server component(s) on a four-way HP Proliant computer alternately running Windows 2008 Server and Windows 2003 Server.

The 50 client computers on our network were a mix of Windows XP, Windows 2003, Windows 2008, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Red Hat Linux and Macintosh platforms. Relational databases on the network were Oracle, Sybase Adaptive Server and Microsoft SQL Server. Web servers on the network were Internet Information Server (IIS) and Apache.

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