Network and Systems Management

By eWeek Editors  |  Posted 2002-07-08 Print this article Print

Network and Systems Management

Network and systems management mind share is dominated by proprietary systems including Computer Associates International Inc.s Unicenter, Hewlett-Packard Co.s OpenView and IBMs Tivoli.

However, these behemoths all but send written invitations to network managers to investigate open-source alternatives because of their high initial price, their recurring consultant and maintenance costs, and the frequent finding that parts of the proprietary systems end up as "shelfware."

Enter the open-source contenders—products such as OpenNMS, from a group of the same name at; Nagios (previously called NetSaint), from Ethan Galstad at; and Jim Trockis Mon service monitoring daemon.

eWeek Labs used NetSaint to monitor the eWeek eXcellence Awards systems and network. We also have used OpenNMS in our lab. Weve found that both products provide the alerts, performance information and simple diagnostics that weve seen in the proprietary network management tools and that they have more than enough horsepower to get the job done.

One of the biggest hurdles for these open-source options is scalability, but both OpenNMS and Nagios are working to address it.

For example, Nagios has support for redundant and distributed monitoring servers, allowing enterprise users to get information from remote offices that have less-than-reliable connections. OpenNMS has an active developers forum that recently debated techniques for monitoring 10,000 devices. Although this number may represent only a fraction of the total number of devices in a large enterprise, it is a step in the right direction.

With the obviously favorable acquisition costs and increasing availability of open-source consultants, open-source management tools are worth consideration by large IT shops. —Cameron Sturdevant


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