Alchemy Lab's Network Administrator's Toolkit consists of two tools that help you centrally manage your small network. Both tools set up quickly and provide easy-to-use monitoring and systems inventory at a very low price.

Alchemy Eye is a lightweight but surprisingly robust server monitoring tool. It monitors over 40 protocols and services, such as ICMP, SMTP, and HTTP. You can set up sophisticated monitoring lists for groups of computers, as Web Figure 1 shows. The UI displays server group status by using an intuitive green-is-good, red-is-bad convention. Eight built-in reports show summaries of problems over time. When Alchemy Eye discovers a problem, the program can send a custom alert by email, IM, or SNMP or can attempt to restart the offending service (or computer), run programs, play sounds, or create a Windows event log entry. You can also run your own VBScript or JavaScript script for custom monitoring.

Creating and managing server groups is straightforward. You can sort the list of monitored servers by server name, monitored protocol or service, or status to find problems quickly. Hovering your mouse over the summary of a problem in the UI's bottom pane provides details.

Asset Tracker for Networks collects and reports system inventory data and configuration information, such as shared folders and user accounts. A wizard simplifies setup, and the UI is largely intuitive. You can view the collected information through the UI or one of 17 customizable reports.

Asset Tracker's software license tool is relatively cumbersome. Additionally, the Help files for both Asset Tracker and Alchemy Eye point out the obvious but don't offer details for how to perform a configuration. Neither Asset Tracker nor Alchemy Eye requires a remote agent.

Network Administrator's Toolkit's low price and accessibility make it a good addition to a network administrator's toolbox. Managers of small networks will find these tools easier to use than open-source monitoring packages and much less expensive than other commercial tools. Managers of large networks or networks with more sophisticated needs might want the customizability of open-source monitoring tools or the features of larger commercial tools.

Summary
Network Administrator's Toolkit

PROS: Quick deployment to small networks; easily customized monitoring and alerting
CONS: Asset Tracker lacks drilldown, filtering, sorting, and searching features; some collected data isn't useful; sparse Help files
RATING: 3 1/2 out of 5
PRICE: $399 for 25 clients
RECOMMENDATION: I recommend this low-cost combination server monitoring and network inventory toolkit for administrators of small networks (fewer than 100 computers) on a tight budget.
CONTACT: Alchemy Lab * http://www.alchemy-lab.com/products/nat