Store data for future analysis and forecasting

Does your new Pentium II Xeon multiprocessor Windows NT server seem sluggish for no apparent reason? Do you need to forecast future computing demands to prepare a budget, complete with documentation, on all hardware purchases for the next 18 months? If so, you need Loan System's Sysload 4.0.

Sysload is a client/server application that gathers statistical information about your computer systems and stores the information in a centralized database for future analysis and forecasting. The program works with a variety of hardware platforms, so you can use it in a hybrid environment. The software consists of two server components and a client component. You only need the server component on the machines you want to monitor.

You install the server components—I-Agents—on each system you want to monitor, and they receive and store information regarding the machine's performance. Two types of I-Agents exist: OS I-Agents and database (DB) I-Agents.

OS I-Agents collect information regarding various OS performance statistics. These components support NT (Intel and Alpha), Novell NetWare, AS/400, and several flavors of UNIX. Each OS I-Agent consists of three background processes (services or daemons, depending on whether you run the software on NT or UNIX). These processes have a negligible impact on your NT system's load. The first process is a collector agent that monitors and stores realtime information regarding your machine's performance. The second process is a file-server service that reads the collected information and stores it in the Sysload database. The third process, the LogAnalyzer service, analyzes text files and performs functions depending on the data the files contain.

DB I-Agents collect information regarding your database's performance. DB I-Agents are available for Oracle and Sybase databases.

You use Sysload's client component—the Observer—to view the data the I-Agents collect. This component will communicate with the OS and DB I-Agents running on your network to present performance information. You can use the Observer on any machine on your network. Screen 1 shows adding new systems to the Observer configuration. Sysload reports on all the data elements that NT's Performance Monitor typically monitors, including processor activity, your file server's memory use, OS cache activity, disk activity, and network activity. Sysload can act on certain alert conditions. The program has a special scripting language to aid you in customizing how you want the software to respond to alert conditions. In addition, you can configure Sysload to automatically launch an application to perform specific functions (e.g., delete temporary files from work directories).

I installed the product on my Micronics NT Server 4.0 system. I had the software collect a week's worth of data to analyze the CPU utilization. I then used the Observer component to obtain a history of my server's CPU utilization. I found that my system was idle, with few exceptions. To test the software's response to common problems, I configured an alert condition to notify me via email if disk space became scarce. The feature worked sufficiently. I received an email message when I was running out of disk space.

Although Sysload does an excellent job of monitoring and forecasting, you need to be aware of two caveats. First, the data you analyze is only as good as the time period in which you collect the data. You need to use the product for a long enough time period to build a sufficient baseline on which to judge performance. Second, the product monitors your system but can't tell you what a particular performance metric means.

Sysload's price is $2000 for each agent you install. The Observer component you use to analyze the data is free, as long as it's for the same platform as the server components. You can download a trial version of the product at Loan System's Web site.

Sysload 4.0
Contact: Loan System * (33) (1) 43 99 28 28 or 612-571-9000 for US reseller
Web: http://www.loansystem.com
Price: $2000 per OS or DB I-Agent
System Requirements: 75MHz Intel or Alpha Pentium processor or better, Windows NT 3.5 or later, Windows 98, or Win95, 16MB of RAM, 10MB of hard disk space, TCP/IP network protocol