A compelling and recurring paradigm for system managers concerns how to handle remote management while monitoring every possible device on the network. To address this problem, American Power Conversion (APC) is offering its Web/SNMP Management Card 1.0, which is designed for the remote management and monitoring of most APC uninterruptible power supply (UPS) products. I would recommend this product to anyone wanting to employ SNMP-based or Web-based management for their APC UPS devices.
Having just looked at Clary's USHA card, the Clary DT1000, I was curious to see how APC's Web/SNMP card would compare. What I found was that, although the Clary DT1000 was a more ambitious card, it did not meet several of its goals; by contrast, the Web/SNMP card set more modest goals and was able to meet them. Further, the card was very easy to install, set up, and use.
I was impressed by the small size of the man-ual, which also had a very well-organised structure and offered clear instructions. Additional documentation was included on the CD. But oddly enough, although the Web/SNMP card supports Web access, the online documentation included was formatted as a PDF file; I would have thought it easier to offer HTML-based documentation.
The only downside to the installation process was that I had to turn off my UPS to install the card. A hot-swap capability would have eliminated the consequent although brief downtime and would make managers in around-the-clock shops a lot happier. After you have installed the card and connected the serial interface cable between your laptop and the UPS, any terminal program can be used to configure the UPS. If you are using BootP, the Web/SNMP card can pick up its TCP/IP address automatically. I used both the serial interface and the Telnet program to configure the Web/SNMP card, and both utilities were very similar, very text-oriented, and very easy to use.
The Web/SNMP card's biggest failing is that it lacks the capability to shut down clients connected to it via TCP/IP. As UPSes become larger and more powerful, they will power more and more devices, and gracefully shutting them down when the power fails will increasingly become an issue. I hope that APC will extend the Web/SNMP card in this direction.
The Web/SNMP card also lacked the capability to track and chart long-term trends, a feature that by contrast is included in the Clary DT1000. Although I did have the option to perform trend tracking and charting by using one of APC's standard PowerChute server packages, I would have preferred to use just one monitoring and control package.
For my tests, I used a copy of LanWare's NTManager. Although I did not configure any software traps, I was able to browse the Management Information Base (MIB) and look at the values in the UPS. According to officials at APC, any MIB II-compliant MIB browser can look at the device. However, APC includes a separate MIB with the Web/SNMP card, called the Powernet MIB. I was not able to compile the PowerNet MIB, although it was not clear whether this was due to a flaw in PowerNet or in the LanWare NTManager. Based on my conversations with APC officials, I think NTManager was the culprit; but in any case, the data was accessible via MIB II.
Overall, the card's performance and price pleased me greatly; the card met all of my needs and did so smoothly. Moreover, the documentation included with the product met the high standards that I have come to expect from APC. For network managers who are interested in moving their APC UPSes into their SNMP management package, or for those who would like to manage them via the Web, APC's Web/SNMP card is definitely worth a look.
The Bottom Line
Web/SNMP Management Card 1.0
APC's easy-to-use, affordable solution smoothly manages APC devices via the Web or SNMP.
Pros: Easy to install; easy to use.
Cons: Cannot shut down nodes via IP; must turn off UPS and clients to install.
Platforms: Software: most SNMP-based management platforms; any Web browser that supports frames.
Price: To be announced.
American Power Conversion
Tel 1800 652 725