ManageExec keeps close tabs on NetWare

Expanding from a local area network to a wide area network calls for server monitoring tools such as those provided by Seagate ManageExec 5.0. Via a Web-based console, ManageExec can track and graph every NetWare and Windows NT server function and metric imaginable.

The product also supplies alert functions, although they pale in comparison to those of a fully-fledged alert program such as Geneva's AlertPage. On the other hand, ManageExec lets you delve deeply into the setup of NetWare and NT servers, a function outside AlertPage's bailiwick.

Once the product has been installed, ManageExec's server agents forward alerts to the Windows console and the Web console. The Windows console is oriented more toward helping the manager install the agents on additional servers and maintaining the monitoring software, rather than actually monitoring the servers.

Once connected to the Web console, ManageExec tracks and can graph server performance in great detail. The Web console refers the system manager to the appropriate pages of explanatory documentation on the Microsoft or Novell home pages. For instance, ManageExec warned me about some problems with cache size and hit rate in my server that I thought I had resolved with the previous upgrade.

ManageExec lets system managers take a proactive approach to server management. For example, one feature I have not seen in other products is the ability to define the performance thresholds at which the system is to sound the alert. ManageExec offers five alert levels, ranging from warning to critical error.

In addition to being able to specify the trigger level, the system manager can also specify what will clear an alarm. For example, after a period of high utilisation on a server, a dip in utilisation could indicate the crisis is over. It could also indicate that the drive controller is saturated. The system manager can tailor the alert-ending events to meet local needs so that alerts sound before a situation becomes critical and -- equally important -- so an alert won't clear too soon.

Stay alert

Seagate gears alerting functions toward the consoles. Although ManageExec provides some pager alerts, I found them less easy to use than those of Geneva's AlertPage. ManageExec can also send alerts to SNMP-based systems, and Seagate will add an e-mail alerting interface soon.

ManageExec's manuals were brief but clear. The only problem I had was figuring out how the paging interface worked. Because it wasn't well-documented, it took me a while to realise the paging gateway was indeed a part of the ManageExec package.

If I hadn't just installed Novell's FastCache, I would've been delighted by ManageExec's installation. However, it did require that I access the console on each of the NetWare servers I wanted to monitor, in order to start some NetWare Loadable Modules. I would've preferred the installation routine to handle the details.

A mature tool for managing NetWare and/or NT servers, ManageExec is worth the effort of downloading an evaluation package.

The Bottom Line

Seagate ManageExec 5.0

Consolidating NetWare and Windows NT server monitoring, this tool offers the best troubleshooting I have seen onlinePros: Very good alerting functions; good single-console view of the network; can view very low levels of the server; clear graphing functions help make sense of server trendsCons: Installation requires access to NetWare console; program does not allow modification of monitored server settings; inelegant uninstall processPlatforms: Management console: Windows NT 4.0; monitored servers: Windows NT 3.51 and later, NetWare 3.11 and later, Web console: Microsoft Internet Information Server, Microsoft Peer Web Services, Netscape FastTrack, O'Reilly WebSite; any Web browser that supports framesPrice: RRP for one-server licence is $1315; RRP for five-server licence is $5845; RRP for 25-server licence is $25,590Seagate SoftwareTel (02) 9955 4088 Fax (02) 9955