Dirig Agent Peps Up System Tools

By Cameron Sturdevant  |  Posted 2002-07-15

Dirig Agent Peps Up System Tools

Dirig Software Inc.s newly re-branded and beefed-up Dirig 3.5 agent technology shows theres still room for improvement—not to mention cost savings—in the mature application and system tools market.

The upstart Dirig, which won eWeeks eXcellence Award in the Networking and Management Tools category, has added S-HTTP (Secure HTTP) to its communication repertoire. The product, which has been called RelyEnt, ExPress and Fenway in its past lives, previously was limited to SNMP communication across firewalls, which required that additional ports be opened in the firewall to manage far-flung applications, databases and servers. (Go to www.eweek.com/links for eWeek eXcellence Awards coverage.)

In eWeek Labs tests, we easily configured the Dirig 3.5 agent to use S-HTTP to communicate securely with a Sun Microsystems Inc. 280R server that was protected behind a firewall in the test network. This should make Version 3.5 of the Dirig agent and management console much more appealing to security-conscious operations.

Dirig has a footprint thats not overly large, at 5MB, and is unified. This meant that during tests, we simply installed one piece on any Unix, Windows or Linux system and then used software keys purchased from Dirig to turn on system and application management components. This is a good way to simplify product distribution and should reduce the bookkeeping headaches sometimes associated with installing agents across the enterprise. Dirig is very favorably priced at $450 with extensions ranging from $900 to $4,500.

Talking to Agents

Talking to Agents

In tests, we set up a machine to act as a depot to determine whether Dirig agents installed on our other systems had the latest policies and management components. We assigned the depot when the agent was installed on the target system.

IT managers should carefully track depot settings. When we moved the depot to a different machine for performance reasons, we subsequently spent just under an hour trying to figure out why no updated policies were being distributed. After we discovered that our re-configuration was the cause of the problem, we started a change log to track the rest of the tweaks we made to the system.

This led us into a series of tests to gauge the efficacy of the new audit log that tracked changes made to systems and policies through the GUI. This is another big step forward in terms of reducing the time and effort needed to document changes made to systems. The only shortcoming of the change log was that we didnt see an easy way to enter changes that were made before Dirig was installed.

Core tests of Dirigs system and application management functions were conducted using a Sun 280R dual-processor system running Solaris 9; a PC server running Red Hat Inc.s Red Hat Linux 7.2; and several servers running Microsoft Corp.s Windows 2000 Server with Exchange, SQL Server 2000 and Internet Information Services. The Sun system was running an Oracle Corp. Oracle8i database along with a BEA Systems Inc. WebLogic installation with the Petstore.com sample application running.

Installation was fairly straightforward on all the platforms, once we met Dirigs fairly narrow definition of a supported Linux system. We started with an old (but not ancient) version of Red Hat 7.0 that was not supported by Dirig and upgraded to Red Hat 7.2 so that it could be used in the test.

We used Dirig to monitor both systems. For metrics such as CPU and memory utilization, we used Dirigs AMX (application management extension—application in this case referring to the application server) and used FMX (Fenway management extension—which hooks into specific products such as Oracle, WebLogic and SQL Server) to monitor Java Management Extensions, Java 2 Enterprise Edition and Microsoft Transaction Server/ COM+ components.

Dirig offers SAMs (Specific Application Managers), pre-configured rules and monitors that are somewhat like those found in competitors such as Precise Software Solutions Ltd.s Precise product line.

The SAMs we used for WebLogic and SQL Server worked well and needed only a small amount of fine-tuning to function as we desired. This is normal for any management tool, including similar products from BMC Software Inc.

Dirig, like other management agent manufacturers, has a professional services organization that assists with the initial planning and product setup. We recommend that IT managers make an evaluation of the specific consultants as part of the buying process for any of these products. We were assisted by company representatives, and their help was essential to getting the product installed quickly and making it work as effectively as possible.

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

Dirig 3


Executive Summary: Dirig 3.5

Usability Good
Capability Good
Performance Excellent
Interoperability Good
Manageability Fair
Scalability Good
Security Good

Dirigs agent—called Fenway—is an application and server monitoring and management tool that makes taking care of heterogeneous systems a much easier task, especially now that it has added S-HTTP support. The re-branded Dirig agent helps keep systems up and running while also sending alerts when it finds problems.


Dirig 3.5 has an attractive upfront cost of $450. To get the most out of the product, IT managers will need to hire consultants and devote a high-level staff member to the initial configuration process. Ongoing costs are minimal, and the cost savings associated with use of the product should be quite high.

(+) Supports heterogeneous platforms; audit change log; supports S-HTTP.

(-) No easy way to log changes made prior to product installation.


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