Why consider a commercial tool set when you can make one? After all, you can often create small management tools to meet specialized needs that commercial products might not address. In-house tools’ might also be more cost-effective than commercial packages. However, commercial tools for system and network management can provide numerous desirable features (e.g., graphical network maps, scalability to manage hundreds or thousands of servers or networks, automated long-term collection of performance information, OS health and event log monitoring, alert generation). The following commercial products provide extensive system and network management functionality: Hewlett-Packard’s (HP’s) OpenView Network Node Manager and OpenView ManageX, BMC Software’s PATROL, NetIQ’s AppManager Suite, IBM’s Tivoli, and Computer Associates’ (CA’s) Unicenter TNG.

We’ve found that the best solution is a combination of commercial technologies, in combination with internally developed tools, across several large enterprises, and we’ve learned that you must consider several important factors when you select commercial management tools. First, make sure that the commercial tool meets the bulk of your requirements. (The product probably won’t meet all your needs, which is why you also need in-house tools.) Second, how easily can you roll out the product, and how much training will your team need before you can capitalize on your investment? We recommend that if you can evaluate demonstration software first, do so. If you can wait to purchase management software until you’ve tested it in your lab, ensured that it will integrate with your existing in-house or third-party tools, and successfully rolled it out to your production environment, you’ll know you have a winner.