• United States
Neal Weinberg
Contributing writer, Foundry


Feb 24, 20043 mins
Data Center

* The Reviewmeister checks out network management tools NetCrunch and OpalisRobot

The Reviewmeister can’t get enough of network management tools. This week, a double dose as we check out AdRem’s NetCrunch and OpalisRobot.

AdRem’s NetCrunch is good at discovering network nodes, displaying a map of a network and producing useful reports. It monitors SNMP-aware devices, and Windows servers and NetWare servers, and it can be installed as a Windows service that runs in the background.

NetCrunch uses ICMP pings and SNMP requests to unearth devices and computers on the network. Its accuracy in discovering nodes impressed us. Network discovery isn’t the easiest function to implement, but AdRem has done it correctly. For an SNMP-aware node, NetCrunch learns its device type – whether, for instance, the node is a switch, printer, NetWare server or router. You can tell NetCrunch to rescan the network periodically to discover devices not available during the initial scan. 

NetCrunch shows what it’s discovered by displaying dynamic, hierarchical maps of subnets, with links between subnets. Changing a map’s colors, backgrounds and icons is easy, and NetCrunch highlights a problem device on the map by turning its icon red and making it blink. NetCrunch can detect whether a device or computer is up and running and, for Windows servers, whether a particular server’s resource (CPU, memory or hard disk) utilization is under or over a threshold.

If you don’t happen to be looking at NetCrunch’s network map when a problem occurs, don’t worry. NetCrunch can notify administrators via e-mail, SNMP alert or pager. It also can send notification messages to specific Windows-based client computers. For problems that can be fixed automatically, you can tell NetCrunch to reset a failed device, run a program or reboot a server. All of NetCrunch’s alerting and notification functions worked well in our tests.

* OpalisRobot

OpalisRobot is a sophisticated, highly visual scheduling tool. We found we could use it to monitor critical aspects of our network and schedule back-up copy operations and other tasks.

OpalisRobot monitors event logs, text logs, SNMP traps (alerts), performance statistics and running programs. OpalisRobot detects whether user-specified services and processes are running. It also monitors for file modifications, device presence (based on ICMP pings), up and running Web/FTP/DNS/NNTP/Mail servers and database availability.

You can use these and other conditions to tell when OpalisRobot should run a program. For example, you can prevent a tape back-up operation from starting if a file’s modification date suggests the program that was supposed to update the file didn’t complete successfully. You also can instruct OpalisRobot to alert you, via e-mail, pager and pop-up message, that an error condition exists and you need to fix it. For those problems that can be fixed automatically, OpalisRobot can run a program or reboot a server.

OpalisRobot’s user interface is a joy to use. It’s a drag-and-drop visual environment for setting up tasks to run on a schedule, based on dependencies you specify. The scheduling function contains an intelligent calendar where you indicate your company’s working days and that you can use to trigger the running of computer programs. You can freely use server and network events, via drag-and-drop, as conditional triggers for running programs or notifying you of an error situation. OpalisRobot makes network troubleshooting almost fun.

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