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Readers’ choice: network management, Part 2

Oct 29, 20034 mins
Data Center

* More network management tools chosen by readers

This week, we’re continuing our rundown readers’ recommendations for their favorite network management tools. Last week’s column included nine tools, and we have even more suggestions below.

These are all user recommendations. It’s been a struggle to keep this a user-driven (rather than vendor-driven) list of recommendations. And I’ve got the battle scars to prove it.

One reader likes Aprisma Spectrum xsight for fault isolation, saying, “it is awesome in conjunction with Attention Software for sorting out alarms and paging people.” He also uses CiscoWorks “to manage and maintain our firmware and configuration of our Cisco network.”

Multi Router Traffic Grapher (MRTG) was a favorite, which, according to one reader, “is great for gathering statistics on usage of network bandwidth and server monitoring.” MRTG is free, and it’s offered through a GNU General Public License.

PingPlotter is a recommended ping and trace-route utility that costs $15. Our reader fires this up when a problem is reported to see where the issue is occurring. FREEping is another recommended pinging tool that can be downloaded for free. A reader reports that it “is very, very simple and yet so useful to gather network object reachability.”

A reader recommends HP OpenView because it provides “very good maps to work with.” He also likes that it is “programmable to do exactly what you desire,” specifically with regard to correlations and e-mail or paging alerts when faults occur.

NetScout is recommended by a reader for its troubleshooting and performance management capabilities. He says, “It is a software and hardware combination, but it does work with most network elements (switches and routers) and presents in a single view the health of the enterprise.” 

Servers Alive is another reader recommendation. A reader says he likes it because it’s simple, does a good job of network event and status monitoring, and is relatively easy to set up. He runs a small network and finds that this simpler, inexpensive tool works well in this environment. Support via a mail group “is remarkably good,”

SNMPc Enterprise from Castlerock Computing is recommended by a user who says that “compared to the other biggies… it’s much easier to use, and ridiculously cheap. It’s surprisingly extendable, and with the new release, easier to manage the NMS itself.” The only shortcoming he reports is that it only runs on Windows. He also says “the package takes just a little bit to get accustomed to, and once you get going, just gets easier to work with.”

Another reader sends in his recommendation of NexVu as “one of the more interesting tools we have been working with.” It’s a network management appliance that “acts as a performance monitoring tool, protocol analyzer, RMON probe and terminal server – all rolled into one.” It is attractive as an alternative to more expensive sniffer devices and it provides real-time performance reporting for the reader’s Siebel application system. “So far we like what we see in the product, and the support from the vendor has been very good.”

NetIQ Qcheck and Chariot are suggested by a user who says that Qcheck is a free tool that is “ultra simple… awesome for quick checks of network performance between two host, great as a troubleshooting tool.” He says his help desk uses it. It requires a performance endpoint on each host to be tested. The endpoints are also free, and are available for a wide variety of systems. “I’ve demanded that the endpoint be loaded on every desktop and server in our enterprise, and it has paid tremendous dividends in reduced problem resolution times.” Then he says that Chariot “can stress-test any network I’ve been able to imagine. It’s great for design and proof of concept. Add the Sniffer plug-in, and you can use real data to test a network, not to mention it becomes simpler to use.” He issues a caution that you need to be careful about putting this in untrained hands because it can “stomp almost any network into little pieces.”

So here ends our readers’ choices for network management tools. Stay tuned next week for their favorite management tools for the desktop.