A framework-based network management system (NMS) doesn't necessarily have to consist of scores of modules that support a supercomplex, hypereclectic computing and network environment. For lots of networks (or if you want to get your feet wet), the framework plus a few modules may be all you need. We call these tools framework express, or framework lite.

The ProIT Operations Management Software is similar to monitoring products such as Argent's Guardian and Microsoft's Operation Manager. Yet the base product is still a framework to which you add Management Packs. Each Management Pack monitors a specific application or platform.

ProIT's discovery feature is its AutoMap Dependency engine. Like Network Node Manager's discovery feature, ProIT's AutoMap quickly and accurately found and identified our network components, and it noted network paths and device dependencies as it searched.

ProIT includes three primary components: Infrastructure Services Management (ISM), Applications Services Management (ASM) and Business Service Management (BSM). ISM contains ProIT's core management and monitoring processes, including AutoMap discovery, a notification engine, monitoring engine, a knowledge base for help desk support, operational workflow support and basic reports that show performance and utilisation statistics. ASM focuses on specific applications, and is the main interface point for ProIT's Management Packs. ASM also maps dependencies, tracks assets and prepares business availability reports.

BSM contains dashboard displays that show the integration of business and management information. It also supplies reports about application detail, service-level management and business vs. network integration, as well as consolidated system views.

Self or remote monitoring
Like OpenView, ProIT has a self-monitor that ensures the system is running. If you subscribe to PerformanceIT's optional external monitoring service, the vendor will remotely monitor each of your ProIT instances from its network operations centre.

Each ProIT Management Pack monitors an application, operating system or device, and it comes preconfigured with thoughtfully selected thresholds out of the box. We especially liked being able to apply a Management Pack and its thresholds simultaneously and consistently to an entire group of devices or servers, without having to configure each one. ProIT has Management Packs for various operating systems, including Windows, HP-UX, Solaris, AIX, Digital Unix, Red Hat Linux, SuSE Linux, Debian Linux, Novell NetWare and OS/400.

Device support includes those from Cisco, HP, Foundry Networks, 3Com, Extreme Networks, Nortel, Enterasys, Alcatel, Lucent and Juniper. The ProIT Management Packs also support specific applications, including Microsoft Exchange, SQL Server and Oracle databases. ProIT runs on Windows 2000 Server and Windows 2003 Server.

X marks the spot
ProIT's Web-based user interface gave us four types of network maps: X-type, in which device icons are logically organised into an X shape with gateway devices at the centre; concentric, in which devices are drawn in concentric circles radiating from the gateway at the centre; ring, in which devices are drawn in a single circle; and table, in which devices are drawn in rows and columns. ProIT showed the direction of dependencies along network paths, and it differentiated between direct dependencies and secondary ones by drawing direct dependencies in bold, and secondary ones in grey. Next to the map, it displayed devices without clear dependencies, letting us investigate why the device appeared not to have any dependencies.

Like the HP and BMC systems, ProIT showed us network health and device status information on its maps. Clicking a map element drilled down to detailed statistics and status information. The user interface was more responsive than Performance Manager's, but not as responsive as the Home Base interface from HP.

ProIT includes several preconfigured management reports, as well as SLA management, availability management, capacity planning and trend-analysis reports. The SLA reports were particularly well designed, showing us the current and previous period's (usually a month) statistics for historical trend assessment. Other reports showed us application, server and network uptime statistics, profile information for asset tracking, event-log analysis, alarm histories and utilisation data.

PerformanceIT gave us both printed and online documentation, and the software was easy to install and start using.

OUR VERDICT

Management Packs allow ProIT to monitor a wide range of apps, operating systems and devices, with simple set-up to cover a group of targets in one go. Drill-down capabilities yield stats and status data.