University of North Texas

Distributed Computing Support Management Team

Network standards group



Network Management Software


The Best Buy for The Money

Submitted for approval and action on Friday, October 3, 1996




Executive Summary

We found Novell's ManageWise product meets most UNT network monitoring/management needs at this time. However, if fell short when monitoring the NDS component of Novell NetWare v4.x. It has no ability to monitor NDS partition and time synchronization. These items remain crucial to the effective management of a Novell NetWare v4.x network.

We find the NetPro product DSExpert fills this shortfall. Novell, in fact, bought DSExpert for their own internal network use (http://www.netpro.com/pr/novellds.htm). The product does not duplicate any functionality found in the ManageWise product and provides a NDS "plug-in" for clean ManageWise integration.

The DCSMT-NSG recommends implementation of the ManageWise product on the UNT campus. Furthermore, it recommends the purchase of the DSExpert product for critical NDS partitions on an as-needed basis. NetPro plans to provide pricing information in the near future. The list price for the product currently stands at $1,300 per server.


Objective

Find a software tool which can manage a majority of the network services on the UNT campus. This tool should meet or exceed the following criteria:

I. Ability to determine specific node causing a problem

II. Monitor server resources over and extended period of time

III. Good reporting capabilities

IV. Ability to repair malfunctioning remote node(s)

V. Repair broken client nodes in-band

VI. Repair broken server nodes in- and out-of-band

VII. Ability to design/document the physical and logical network

VIII. Ability to prevent unauthorized console from monitoring and/or managing systems

IX. Include multilevel alarm types and thresholds for this such as:

X. High server utilization

XI. NDS replicas out of sync for more than an hour

XII. Low disk space

XIII. Redundant checkpoints of monitoring devices

XIV. Multiple platform and protocol support

XV. Ability to "plug-in" to Novell NetWare's NDS is a plus

Once a product is found which meets the above criteria, UNT network managers can actively prevent sever problems from happening to any given customer's environment.


Picking Competitors

Through several trade journals and web searches, we narrowed the competitors down to the following:

XVI. Novell's ManageWise

XVII. Computer Associates' CA-Unicenter

XVIII. Seagate Software's LANAlert

XIX. Frye's Frye Utilities for NetWare

XX. IPswitch's WhatsUp

XXI. HP OpenView

XXII. IBM/Tivoli's TME 10


Product Comparison

We originally sought to develop a weighted table using the initial criteria. However, the visible difference in capabilities between the products made this unnecessary. Instead, we provide a brief summary of each product below.

IBM/Tivoli's TME 10 product is absolutely fantastic for a company which does not use Apple products, has only one central computing support organization, and can afford $210 per client for licensing. It objectifies every component of the network (requiring substantial initial setup). With the interface, a very inexperienced person can easily create new users on multiple systems, distribute software, and monitor system performance. However, UNT does not "centralize" desktop computing and does not have that kind of funding available for use in this endeavor.

The HP OpenView product was nearly impossible to get for this review. This may demonstrate a lack of support by the vendor for this product. Additionally, once installed, the products merely tracks the IP traffic on a network. It can accept SNMP traps sent to it from any of the software we evaluated, but it is ill-suited to the task of NetWare management.

IpSwitch's WhatsUp is a great buy for the money to monitor an IP-based network. It can monitor any number of WWW, FTP, and Gopher servers as well as any IP-based host, switch, or router on a network. At $149 per workstation this is a great buy for the money. However, it lacks the ability to monitor IPX, AppleTalk, and NetBEUI. For that reason it is not well suited for the UNT campus.

Seagate Software's LANAlert product is actually a suite of non-integrated 3rd party products. This causes variations in the amount of multiple platform and/or protocol support. The server component is based entirely on NetWare v3.x. It's features fail to meet the amount of things which ManageWise accomplishes. Additionally, it would cost UNT additional money whereas the ManageWise product is "free" with our license from Novell.

Computer Associates' CA-Unicenter is untested on the UNT campus. The company refuses to provide a "live trial" version. They insisted we should look at a video. Then, they insisted we should see the product on their site. Rich Anderson went on-site in Las Colinas to see the product in action. The product has a fantastic front end, but fails to provide the fundamental NetWare support UNT requires. The product is mainly geared to the same market to which the IBM/Tivoli TME 10 product is geared.

ManageWise is the only network management software product which meets a majority of UNT's needs. The table below demonstrates this more clearly:

Description Result (Good/Fair/Poor)
Ability to determine specific node causing a problem Poor
Monitor server resources over an extended period of time Good
Good reporting capabilities Poor
Ability to repair malfunctioning remote node(s) Good
Repair broken client nodes in-band Good
Repair broken server nodes in- and out-of-band Fair
Ability to design/document the physical and logical network Fair
Ability to prevent unauthorized console from monitoring and/or managing systems Fair
Include multilevel alarm types and thresholds Good
Redundant checkpoints of monitoring devices Fair
Multiple platform and protocol support Fair
Ability to "plug-in" to Novell NetWare's NDS is a plus Good

However, MangeWise falls short in one key area--NDS. The product lacks support for monitoring NDS partitions. NDS partitions hold all object information. To improve fault tolerance, Novell replicates portions of this database to various servers. However, this database contains no "rol-back" functionality. This means time synchronization must also be maintained between servers. Failure to maintain synchronization can cause unpredictable results and irrecoverable damage to multiple computing support areas. Because as many as 3 distributed computing support groups share the same partition, UNT needs a method to prevent one server from causing problems with the rest of the campus network.

The DSExpert product fills ManageWise's product limitations by monitoring all of these areas. From this group's prospective, it provides the following key benefits:

XXIII. DSExpert provides direct help for all those cryptic NDS error codes.

XXIV. DSExpert enables managers to thread several DSTrace screens on the same console.

XXV. DSExpert integrates very cleanly with ManageWise and has SNMP support.

XXVI. DSExpert provides several levels of alerts and responses.

XXVII. DSExpert enables you to monitor trends over time periods.

There are too many features of this product to cover them here. Please refer to this URL for more information: http://www.netpro.com/products/dse.htm

Summary

The UNT campus should implement ManageWise for monitoring, management, repair, and trend analysis of the Novell NetWare network. However, the UNT campus should also deploy DSExpert in areas where production is key (Faculty/Staff and administrative offices). Only by coupling these two products do you attain a complete solution.


Appendix A - DSEXPERT Pricing

Product

Part Number

Total Price

Price/Server

1 Server Agent Pack

dx5

$499.00

$499.00

5 Server Agent Pack

dx5

$2,295.00

$459.00

10 Server Agent Pack

dx10

$4,390.00

$439.00

25 Server Agent Pack

dx25

$10,479.00

$420.00

50 Server Agent Pack

dx50

$19,960.00

$400.00

Unlimited Phone Support (1-20 servers)

n/a

n/a

$70.00

Unlimited Phone Support (21-50 servers)

n/a

n/a

$65.00


Document created by Richard Anderson on October 2, 1996.

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