By Cameron Sturdevant  |  Posted 2004-07-26 Print this article Print

Concords eHealth Suite 5.6 is a reporting monster (in the good sense). More than the other products reviewed here—indeed, likely more than almost any other network management tool weve seen—eHealth Suite has a report for just about every aspect of network monitoring, including VOIP.

eWEEK Labs thinks eHealth Suite 5.6 is a perfect example of why IT managers should cast an eye over tools that might already be in place in the enterprise to see if there is a chance to tap existing features for additional functionality.

For example, we wouldnt think first of a tool such as eHealth for assessing a network for VOIP readiness, but the Concord product provides a more-than-passable VOIP deployment planning and assessment module that we used in our tests. We were able to ascertain, through reports generated by eHealth, that we would have to do a significant amount of network remediation if we wanted voice traffic to sound good on our test network.

The nice thing about eHealths VOIP module is it demonstrates that Concord has put some real thought into the kinds of challenges voice places on a data network.

Of course, voice traffic is data traffic, and voice packets look pretty much like any other packet getting carried on the network. The trick for IT managers is to assess where bottlenecks are likely to occur in the data network that would degrade voice quality. In this regard, eHealth excelled in our tests, with reports that pointed out ways we could change our network to accommodate voice traffic.

While eHealth Suite 5.6 was adept at generating reports, most of those reports required us to spend an inordinate amount of time performing configuration of individual elements. After 2 hours of tinkering with report conditions in eHealth Suite 5.6, we felt like it might be time to check our physical health as well.

There used to be a debate about the role of agents in network management. All the products we tested can get plenty of information from SNMP and from RMON, but agents played a big role in our tests. eHealth Suite 5.6 uses Concords SystemEdge and Application Response agents, along with Cisco Service Assurance Agent, to provide valuable performance information.

We used SystemEdge agents on systems in our test network to monitor CPU, memory and other system utilization levels.

As with all the products we tested, there were plenty of threshold levels to set in eHealth so that alarms could be triggered. We could easily adjust the alarm thresholds of the SystemEdge agents, for example, to keep the false alarms to a minimum. We recommend that IT managers put alert threshold management capabilities near the top of the list when evaluating a network management tool.

Senior Analyst Cameron Sturdevant can be reached at cameron_sturdevant@ziffdavis.com.

Check out eWEEK.coms Infrastructure Center at http://infrastructure.eweek.com for the latest news, views and analysis on servers, switches and networking protocols for the enterprise and small businesses.

Cameron Sturdevant Cameron Sturdevant has been with the Labs since 1997, and before that paid his IT management dues at a software publishing firm working with several Fortune 100 companies. Cameron also spent two years with a database development firm, integrating applications with mainframe legacy programs. Cameron's areas of expertise include virtual and physical IT infrastructure, cloud computing, enterprise networking and mobility, with a focus on Android in the enterprise. In addition to reviews, Cameron has covered monolithic enterprise management systems throughout their lifecycles, providing the eWEEK reader with all-important history and context. Cameron takes special care in cultivating his IT manager contacts, to ensure that his reviews and analysis are grounded in real-world concern. Cameron is a regular speaker at Ziff-Davis Enterprise online and face-to-face events. Follow Cameron on Twitter at csturdevant, or reach him by email at csturdevant@eweek.com.

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