Consider the Cloud When Choosing Network Management and Monitoring

In my last post on choosing the best monitoring system, I talked about what good network, cloud and website monitoring systems should offer, for example, information on network traffic, end-user activities, apps, virtual machines and cloud platforms themselves.

In this post, I’d like to get into the different types of vendors and the solutions that they offer.

Let’s start with solutions from large IT vendors. You should easily recognize the names: eHealth and Spectrum from CA, IBM’s Tivoli NetCool, HP’s Network Node Manager, Ionix/Smarts from EMC, and CiscoWorks from Cisco. These solutions are like commodities – they’re widely available, and because of their large portfolio of products and services are very successful in giant, global companies. Here’s a quick rundown on both their shiny and dark sides:

Suitable User Base Positives Negatives
– Large, global corporations, organizations – stable, well-established
– scalable architecture
– rich platform support, 24/7
– numerous partner programs for selling, development, support
– pricey
– if customization needed, may require additional staff
– complex licensing models
– difficult to roll out updates


ISVs – ISV solutions (Solarwinds, WhatstUp Gold) work for organizations of all sizes. Here are the pros and cons:

Suitable User Base Positives Negatives
– Companies of all sizes, especially small and mid-size firms – easy to use (Windows-based)
– lower cost of entry than large systems
– simple licensing solutions
– work well with other vendor solutions (rip and replace not required)
– not meant to replace large legacy systems; can play only complementary role
– hidden costs in maintenance and upkeep


Open Source – Some of the more prominent network management solutions include: Cacti, GroundWorks, Nagios, OpenNMS, Zabbix, Zenoss, and Wireshark. Open source network management first became popular with companies on limited IT budgets, but they’ve since evolved, and their appeal has broadened with improved user interfaces and support services. Here are some pros and cons:

Suitable User Base Positives Negatives
– Typically large corporations, as they have resident expertise to implement, configure, and maintain solutions – as well as work with the community to resolve technical issues.
– free software
– access to user code (gives IT a head start, rather than building something in-house from scratch)
– fee based support (e.g. how-to videos, user and developer documentation) available for purchase
– enables users to report bugs and developers to create new features
– nature of open-source tech means developers can move on to other projects, adding a level of instability
– hidden costs in maintenance and upkeep
– highly customized solutions can mean smaller support base if experts leave a project


Appliance – Appliance solutions are dedicated hardware devices (for example ServerCheck) with hardened operating systems and software optimized to collect and analyze huge volumes of data at a very detailed level. Here are some things to consider for appliance solutions:

Suitable User Base Positives Negatives
– Appeals to enterprise, as well as service providers who need to analyze large data sets.
– can be dropped into critical points on network
– low-touch, easy to maintain
– provide multiple options for data to be collected and stored
– can do real-time analysis of traffic flows, root cause analysis (troubleshooting)

– offers diagnostic software to run and maintain dedicated boxes – no configuring and maintaining a server

– can be expensive for devices, as well as probes
– can’t download for evaluation
– detailed licensing, pricing information not readily available on websites
– volume pricing typically expensive


Cloud-based SaaS – Cloud-based solutions such as those from Monitis combine a low-cost of entry with ease-of-use, while still providing enterprise-wide visibility and scalability. Also unique to Monitis is its community: Monitis is in constant contact with customers, and developers are alerted early to the problems a new technology may pose and are able to incorporate changes into the product roadmap to accommodate them.

Suitable User Base Positives Negatives
– All sizes of companies, appealing especially to those on IT budget restraints, for example, small and mid-size firms.
– low-cost entry with multiple support options
– a la carte pricing, enabling users to pay only for what they need
– frequent updates, revisions due to web-based nature
– no need for packaging, delivery, patching, installation

– all users work on latest version of software

– vendors provide better service, as customers pay recurring fees and may cancel at any time,

– works well with other vendors’ products via APIs

– no need for extra hardware

– scalable

– easy instant setup

– zero maintenance cost

– user hesitancy to place private data on cloud servers
– occasional cloud platform access issues


IT organizations seeking to improve operational efficiency and network visibility should carefully choose their tools and consider new cloud-generation vendors such as Monitis that offer broad capabilities coupled with flexibility, agility, and a strong, supporting user community.

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