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Reader’s choice: systems management

Oct 15, 20034 mins
Data Center

* Readers give their top picks for systems management

Recently, I invited readers to send in recommendations of their favorite management tools. I suggested several categories and received many responses – this week I’m sharing readers’ recommendations for systems management tools.

Please note that the length of text below for each product depended on the amount of feedback readers provided. I do not intend to declare a “winner” here. Consider these tools as possibilities if you happen to be searching for a system management tool. The “winner” for you is the tool that best fits your company’s needs. So with that said, here are our readers’ picks.

One of the system management tools recommended by readers is NetIQ’s AppManager. One reader says, “It has saved us countless hours of downtime by providing timely notifications of pending critical server conditions. Often those conditions are also corrected automatically via AppManager-triggered Knowledge Scripts or NT command-line utilities… It’s also a great troubleshooting tool, with its automated reporting features which generate dynamic performance graphs… It’s one of those background tools that works so well that we in NOS support take it for granted, and that is indeed high praise.”

Another reader says that it “provides a wealth of statistical data, automated reports and notification.”

Yet another reader says that AppManager is “very reliable,” that it “does what is says on the tin and it does it very well,” and that the software “greatly increased efficiency in operations – allowing our skilled engineers to do the skilled work they are paid for while AppManager gets on with the labor-intensive, repetitive work that many ops teams are stuck with.”

He was very enthusiastic about the product’s customization capabilities: “I can’t stress enough how good this is. Many tools do almost what you want but not quite. AppManager allows you to modify monitors and tools to do EXACTLY the job you need.”

A global investment banking firm is using it to monitor and manage all of its Windows servers. A reader there says the firm uses it in conjunction with Mercury Interactive’s SiteScope. He recommends using them together, SiteScope monitors Web transactions and, he says, is easy to deploy and administer, due to its agentless approach. The reader feels that AppManager is complementary to SiteScope because it offers more flexibility with its monitors, as well as the ability to perform system management tasks. He also recommends using another manager-of-managers product, because “both products are still struggling to provide a single global environment and require a Manager of Managers.”

Interestingly, two users expressed slightly different views on the pricing for AppManager. One says that it is “pricey, but worth its weight in gold for bulletproof numbers,” while another reader says that it has “realistic, reasonable licensing costs.”

Nagios is a free, open-source tool that several readers recommended for service monitoring. According to the Nagios Web site, the tool is designed to run on Linux, but can be also be used on Unix variants. It can monitor host systems and network services and return status information. It also can notify you when problems occur.

HP’s Insight Manager 7 SP2 was recommended. A reader says he uses it to monitor servers, saying that “the price is right and it provides a lot of information about the state of our servers.”

OpalisRobot was also recommended. One reader uses the tool to “automate our background processes, monitor disk drive state, and for general housekeeping throughout the system.” He also notes that “one of the better features [is that] it is self-documenting.” Another reader from Saudi Arabia commented that on “a scale of 1 to 10, I will rate OPR 4.07 as 9.5.”

This was an interesting array of tools. Stay tuned next week for more reader recommendations in other categories.