When your organization grows into an enterprise and you have to manage more than a handful of servers and desktops, Windows 2000 (Win2K) System Performance Monitor's shortcomings (e.g., no support for automatic logging into databases, a lack of extended reporting capabilities) become apparent.

In this situation, you can integrate third-party monitoring tools into your environment. Most third-party monitoring tools are more flexible than Performance Monitor is. These tools implement one of two architectures: Agent-based or Polling-based. Agent-based tools place their agent on your system, collect performance information over time, then transfer the collected performance information to a central database once a day (usually on a nightly basis). Polling-based solutions use one or more polling servers to collect performance information from target servers every few minutes and store this information in a central database.

These tools automatically centralize performance data, creatively obtain more performance information than Performance Monitor obtains, and produce predefined performance reports that help you track bottlenecks and plan for the future. Some of the most popular third-party monitoring solutions include Multiplicity (http://www.multiplicity.com), Hewlett-Packard's HP OpenView ManageX (http://www.openview.hp.com), and NetIQ AppManager's (http://www.netiq.com).