Monitor key segments of your network automatically

\[Editor's Note: Platinum Technology purchased Geneva Software, the company that made AlertPage Enterprise 4.1. The software package is now available as ProVision Network Monitor. ProVision is an integrated set of systems, database, and network management tools.\]

AlertPage Enterprise 4.1 is a multi-platform monitoring tool that lets you automatically monitor system performance and services and other key segments of your network. The software lets you monitor data from numerous sources, including Windows NT, Novell NetWare, UNIX servers, and Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP)-
enabled devices.

AlertPage monitors NT services and performs actions based on rules you establish. If the software detects a service interruption, it restarts the service and pages the systems administrator or sends an email alert. The ability to restart the service automatically is useful. This ability is also dangerous. For example, if your SQL Server system shuts down unexpectedly and AlertPage restarts the system, you could end up with corrupted data.

AlertPage has a comprehensive Management Information Base (MIB) containing more than 6000 SNMP traps. The software includes an Event-To-Trap Translator that lets you convert NT events into SNMP traps you can monitor with SNMP software. If you run a large network, you can use this feature to consolidate your monitoring and notification systems. The installation process is standard and automated; you just click OK.

The configuration process is not as simple as the installation process. You must configure the devices you want to monitor, the alerts you want to report on, and the method the software uses to alert your staff when a problem arises. Even in a small environment, this process takes time. AlertPage includes an integrated GUI configuration and management program to speed up the configuration process. Screen 1 shows the Device Status Monitor Profile, which is part of this program.

AlertPage includes several automated discovery processes to help you set up the software. These processes determine which servers are on your network and which IP addresses you are using. A device group consists of several devices clustered together based on an arbitrary criterion (e.g., they have the same events, they're assigned to the same person). When you set up your device groups, a Discover Servers option automatically interrogates your network and locates the NT and NetWare servers. The Discover IP Addresses option compiles a list of active IP addresses on your subnet. Finally, the Discovered SNMP Agents option shows the devices you can monitor on your network using SNMP.

You configure filters to your alerts in two ways. You can use a severity-based filter or a text-based filter. If you use a severity-based filter, the software ignores alerts below a certain severity level and lets another filter process them. A text-based filter lets you suppress or send an alert based on the text contents.

Alarm Notification Techniques
When you process an alarm, you're in the notification stage. AlertPage uses several techniques to notify you about an event that causes an alarm. For less severe situations, you can configure AlertPage to email the systems administrator or forward the alarm information to another SNMP program. In emergencies (e.g., if your database server goes down), the software can send an alphanumeric page. Alphanumeric pages provide detailed information about the event.

In my test environment, I set up several alarm instances to monitor the status of my SQL Server database and NT server. For example, I started and stopped services to simulate a database failure and a system failure. I turned my NT server off to simulate a power failure. AlertPage properly performed the notification actions I configured.

A Good Choice
AlertPage let me easily configure my system for event monitoring. If you work as a systems administrator in a busy network environment, consider investing in this tool.

AlertPage Enterprise 4.1
Contact: Platinum Technology * 630-620-5000 or 800-442-6861
Web: http://www.platinum.com
Geneva Software * 847-562-0012 or 800-315-0952
Web: http://www.genevasoft.com
Price: $1000
System Requirements: Windows NT 3.51 or later, 166MHz Pentium processor or better, 32MB of RAM, 85MB of hard disk space, 9600Kbps modem