BMC Software Inc. has made it significantly easier for network managers who are responsible for the growing herds of Windows 2000 servers to keep watch over their flocks. The latest version of the companys Patrol for Microsoft Windows 2000 Server supports Microsoft Corp.s enterprise-class Advanced, Datacenter, Transaction and Cluster servers, as well as Microsofts Message Queue.
Of all BMCs application and system management tools, Version 2.1 of Patrol for Microsoft Windows 2000 Server is among the most complete and useful that we have seen. The upgrade, which started shipping this month, is competitively priced at $815 per managed server.
Other products, such as NetIQ Corp.s AppManager for Microsoft Windows NT and Windows 2000, provide more comprehensive performance reports and are generally easier to set up and use but are limited to covering only Microsoft products. During eWeek Labs tests, we found that the tradeoff—slightly less comprehensive coverage in exchange for support for more operating systems—was worthwhile.
The BMC softwares new support for Windows 2000 enterprise-class server products enabled us to easily monitor cluster uptime and job objects. This was in addition to the usual collection of measurements that we expect to see in system management tools, including physical disk usage, process threads, virtual memory and an event log.
New in this version of the product is the ability to centralize event filters, which made it easier to control the number of problem notifications we received. We used the Patrol console to test this by setting alert thresholds on disk usage and then loading the server with disk-intensive work. We were notified of trouble quickly on the console and could just as easily have used the products paging or e-mail features to bring problems to light.
By carefully following the integration directions, we were able to combine information about Windows 2000 systems with management data provided by other BMC Patrol products for Unix systems, firewalls and Web-response measurement tools. Besides the obvious advantage of having to deal with only one console, network managers can do more with less by using many features that were in the previous version of Patrol for Microsoft Windows 2000 Server.
BMCs product uses agents and agent extensions, which the com- pany calls Knowledge Modules, to track performance and communicate information to the central repository. This means that we were able to monitor many more functions than we could with Windows PerfMon, a built-in feature of Windows 2000. It also means that maintaining the product involves shepherding far-flung agents through the upgrade process, which is no small task. Most competing system management products are burdened with this requirement as well.
Network managers who have the previous version of Patrol for Microsoft Windows 2000 Server will want to upgrade if they wish to track the additional servers supported in this version.
The upgrade process itself is quite detailed, and managers should set aside a fair amount of time for this task. Depending on the number of servers, we estimate it will take between 2 and 3 hours to plan, test and deploy the upgrade.
BMC provides a set of comprehensive utilities to help upgrade the Knowledge Modules.