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.

BMC's Performance Manager Console includes nine components: Central Operator Windows, Central Operator Web, Console Server, RTServer, Infrastructure Monitor, Configuration Manager, Console for Unix, Console for Windows and Migration Tools. Distribution Server remotely installs or uninstalls Patrol components across multiple systems from a single, centralised console, and Performance Manager Portal is an agentless tool that monitors Web-based transactions, as well as IP-based devices and computers.

PMC's three-tier architecture includes application server, database server and Web server components. All modules are part of BMC's Business Service Management strategy, which targets applications and their associated network infrastructures.

Together, the Performance Manager Portal and Performance Manager Console identify, diagnose and report simple and complex network problems related to specific application environments, such as Apache Web Server, Compaq Insight Manager, Dell OpenManage, BEA WebLogic, IBM WebSphere, JBoss and SAP.

Behaviour tracking
In addition to monitoring specific applications, the system tracks operating- system behaviour, including performance, resource consumption and server capacity. It also kept an eye on Active Directory components and events, combed through Windows event logs for items that could trigger alerts based on event type, source, event ID, user or category. The system could also baby-sit individual processes and services to ensure they were running, and noted the consumption of resources. SNMP alerts (traps) could be processed to track network events and errors.

Although the system works without agents, Performance Manager Portal comes with those that you can optionally use. In our tests, agents could provide more information about each monitored system than the agentless environment provided, such as identifying runaway processes inside servers.

The Performance Manager Portal, Performance Manager Console and Distribution Server run on Red Hat Linux, Sun Solaris, Win 2000 and Win 2003.

Business-eye view
BMC's Performance Manager Portal is a Web-based console that displayed views of the network infrastructure elements, as well as views of the business applications corresponding to those elements. BMC designed the dual network and business views to help customers more quickly identify and fix problems.

Although switching between views was simple enough, we found the dual views didn't appreciably aid us in determining the problem. When a router fails, for example, its relationship to the business environment isn't as important as deciding what's causing the failure and knowing how to solve it. However, Performance Manager Portal gave us a level of business intelligence, as it clearly showed us the status and health of the infrastructure elements and how those elements contributed to our overall business environment. We also felt that Performance Manager's user interface wasn't as responsive as the HP Home Base interface.

The Performance Manager Portal includes console interfaces for administering, operating, configuring and distributing the Performance Manager modules. Via the Portal, we could see the network, servers and applications as objects displayed in an expandable and collapsible Object Tree. Clicking on objects drilled down to details regarding the health of applications, services, servers and devices. The Portal and Performance Manager Console module provided us with the same breadth of reports as HP's Home Base.

BMC gave us printed and online documentation, and its products were easy to install and begin using.


BMC's software gives a level of business intelligence, as well as network and app awareness.