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Sentry Software

90 Posts authored by: Cyril Pantoli
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Last September, we went to Vegas for BMC Engage and we heard of Bob Beauchamp being a gamer and more precisely a confirmed Pokémon Go trainer. His words didn't fall on deaf ears. We thought that we could give BMC CEO a hand to monitor his favorite mobile app and maximize his chances to catch ‘em all. We challenged ourselves to achieve this goal in less than 24 hours using only BMC and Sentry solutions.

 

Bob Beauchamp BMC Engage 2016 opening keynote - tweet.pngBob Beauchamp speaking on Pokémon GO's success (BMC Engage 2016 opening keynote)

 

EVERY CHALLENGE ALONG THE WAY, WITH COURAGE I WILL FACE!

Disruptive technologies always mean unprecedented situations to manage and hardships to deal with. Pokémon Go is no exception to the rule. The augmented reality game has had indeed a difficult beginning between server overloads caused by too many players connecting simultaneously, and reckless players trespassing to find a rare Pokémon thus undermining public security. If Ash only needed a cap and some courage to get rid of problems, IT administrators also need powerful and reliable tools to monitor these disruptive technologies and thus avoid major problems.

 

Security concern: Trainers going wild in Taiwan's capital
while trying to catch a rare Pokémon (Snorlax) which pops up

WHAT’S INSIDE OUR POKEBALL?

As you may already know, Sentry Software has developed Monitoring Studio, a knowledge module fully compatible with BMC TrueSight Operations Management. This Swiss army knife allows you to monitor pretty much anything: custom applications, non-standard technologies, or disruptive mobile apps such as Pokémon GO. If you already are a TrueSight admin, that’s the only tool that needs to be installed to tackle the issues related to disruptive technologies.

 

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Architecture Diagram: Monitoring Pokémon GO with BMC and Sentry

 

We created a Python script that leverages an unofficial API (published at GitHub.com). The script and the API have been installed on a Raspberry Pi dedicated to that critical task. Then, with Monitoring Studio, we added a connection to our remote Raspberry Pi and started monitoring it. We made use of some of the numerous monitors available in the Monitoring Studio toolbox to create a configuration capable of extracting all interesting information from Pokémon Go and displaying them in our TrueSight environment.

 

AND THE SENTRY ROAMER WAS BORN!

We entered, through command lines, the GPS coordinates of some hotspots to scan (Las Vegas, the Eiffel tower, BMC offices). Then, using string searches, we added the list of the rare Pokémons to look for. We ultimately wanted to get notified every time a rare Pokémon was found so we configured the KM to trigger an event and send us a message following this pattern: [Pokémon name] ([rarity level]) spawned near [location]. Using either Google or Pokémon Trainer Club accounts, the script now lives on its own, acts as a player, verifies connection, and checks the surroundings for the appearance of rare Pokémons.

 

Events.pngEvents panel displaying the list of Pokémons found with various information (name, time, location, rarity level)

 

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Crtitical event details: a very rare Pokémon (Snorlax) spawned near Pacific Building

 

UP OR DOWN?

One of the most critical issues Pokémon GO players had to face right after the launch of the game was server outage. Millions of trainers were trying desperately to get online and got frustrated as they were not able to play. These server issues have been solved and are now a distant memory but we found interesting to configure Monitoring Studio to report on Authentication Time and Query Time for both Google and Pokémon Trainer Accounts… at least to ensure that Team Rocket continues to blast off at the speed of light.

 

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Graphs representing Google/PTC authentication and query times

 

PROTECT THE WORLD FROM DEVASTATION & UNITE ALL PEOPLES WITHIN OUR NATION

As Pokémon GO reminds us, disruptive technologies should not be taken lightly. They can have great impacts on society as well as companies: security concerns, public server downtimes, etc., and thus should be constantly and thoroughly monitored using easily adjustable and reliable tools. TrueSight Operations Management used in conjunction with Monitoring Studio by Sentry Software is the key solution to simply and quickly tackle the challenges posed by any new technology.

 

Wait no longer to meet tomorrow's challenges: discover the incredible wealth of the Monitoring Studio toolbox now!

 

LEARN MORE

Pokémon GO

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Hitachi Disk Arrays KM for PATROL 1.4.05 is now available to download. It includes the following new features, improvements, and fixed issues:

  • Support for Hitachi VSP Gxxxx Series.
  • Host information is now available for mapped volumes.
  • The password algorithm encryption is now handled by the PATROL Agent.

 

» Read the product’s Release Notes for an exhaustive list of changes, improvements and fixed issues.

 

→ Download

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Sentry Software is proud to be a featured speaker at the BMC Engage 2016 conference, being held Sept 6 – 9 at the ARIA® Convention Center in Las Vegas.

 

We cordially invite you to join us and attend our two sessions:

 

Managing Storage Capacity Needs with BMC TrueSight Capacity Optimization

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  • Date: September 7, 11:00 am-11:45 am
  • Type: Hands-on Lab
  • Room: Bristlecone 8
  • Speaker: Christopher Pugh

→ Learn more

 

During this session, you will learn how to:

  • Report and analyze storage capacity utilization in EMC, NetApp, HDS, IBM, etc.
  • Diagnose possible risks of saturation and oversubscription
  • Identify which storage system is best suited to provide additional capacity to new servers
  • Reclaim unused storage capacity
  • Report storage consumption per server (charge back)

 

Operational Analytics with TrueSight and Sentry Monitoring Studio

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  • Date: September 9, 9:00 am-9:45 am
  • Type: BMC/Partner Breakout
  • Room: Ironwood 8
  • Speaker: Bertrand Martin

→ Learn more

 

During this session, you will learn how to:

  • Bring in infrastructure data using Nagios plugins natively in the TrueSight console
  • Use Sentry Monitoring Studio to easily build collectors
  • Build collectors for business metrics

 

 

We look forward to seeing you in Las Vegas!

 

→ Register Now

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The latest version of Veritas NetBackup KM for PATROL is now available to download. It includes the following new features, improvements, and fixed issues:

  • The status of the NetBackup media servers is monitored from the master server
  • All Ksh scripts used in the KM for UNIX/Linux platforms support Bash
  • Calendar-based backup policies are excluded from the calculation of the next scheduled backup to avoid false alarms

 

Read the product’s Release Notes for an exhaustive list of changes, improvements and fixed issues.

 

→ Download

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BMC Software and Sentry Software recently announced the End of Life for SharePoint KM for PATROL. For all our customers who wish to continue monitoring their SharePoint environment, we provide a substitute product: Monitoring Studio.

 

What’s Monitoring Studio?
Monitoring Studio is a Knowledge Module for PATROL and BMC TrueSight Operations Mgmt that can monitor almost any technology (application, server, device, etc.) for which there is no out-of-the-box monitoring solution. In a few clicks and without any coding, 100% of technologies can be covered in the BMC monitoring environment.

 

How to Monitor SharePoint with Monitoring Studio?

sharepoint_with_MS.pngTo help administrators monitor their SharePoint 2013 environment, Sentry has created a specific configuration to be imported in Monitoring Studio.

Among many other features, this specific configuration monitors:

  • Content Database(s)
  • Event logs
  • Performance metrics
  • Windows processes
  • All the SharePoint Service instances of the entire SharePoint farm
  • The HTTP availability and status of all the sites in Microsoft IIS.
  • All the Application Pools in Microsoft IIS and their corresponding Windows processes.
  • The status of the SharePoint Services (IIS ADMIN Service, SharePoint Administration Service, SharePoint Search Host Controller Service, SharePoint Timer Service, SharePoint Tracing Service, World Wide Web Publishing Service).

 

Please note that this pre-built configuration can be customized to suit any specific need.

 

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Monitoring Studio KM for PATROL 8.7.00 is now available to download. It includes new features and improvements and more especially the possibility to:

  • import Monitoring Studio configuration files into a CMA policy
  • reset the value and clear alerts on all time-based parameters when no file is present in the monitored folder
  • extend signature files to subfolders

Read the product’s Release Notes for an exhaustive list of changes, improvements and fixed issues.

→ Download

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Are you a Star Wars fan? Then, you probably already know what the dark side of the force is. But have you ever heard of the dark side of storage? Also called Dark Storage, this notion refers to allocated but unused storage capacity which often results in storage waste and useless spending on storage hardware. Dark storage would represent roughly 30% of storage resources. This growing plague strikes indiscriminately large, medium, or small-sized enterprises across the galaxy… well, at least the globe. It’s there around you and you may not even know it.

Jedi, let’s try to understand the nature of our enemy and let’s see how the Sentry Software’s connectors for BMC TrueSight Capacity Optimization can help you eliminate it. It’s time to take your lightsaber to defeat the dark side of storage!

 

DARK STORAGE: THE UNSUSPECTED MENACE

Dark storage is synonym of storage inefficiency. The term was firstly introduced in 2008, and is yet today more relevant than ever. Indeed, Gartner has indicated that only 20% to 40% of storage capacity was being effectively used.

The dark storage menace arises in a subtle manner. Normally, the usual process is as follows: storage administrators configure storage volumes that are then mapped to a host server, recognized by the hardware, presented as volumes, and finally utilized by applications and users. But in reality, at each stage of this process, storage inefficiency can exist and prevent the available space to be optimally allocated resulting in dark storage.

Dark storage can frequently be attributed to human error: administrators who do not always follow all recommendations, or simply decommission their older storage hardware without afterwards doing the appropriate follow-up related to it. Sometimes, the administrators who are in charge of storage and those who are responsible for servers can be different people and a firewall may exist between them. Storage admins can consequently hardly know the actual available storage capacity in their data center and dark storage could be left undetected.

Other factors can contribute to making the detection of dark storage even more complex: capacity management made through thin provisioning on disk arrays, virtualization that can obfuscate capacity management by adding an abstraction layer to storage resources, compression, de-duplication, etc.

To put it briefly, available storage capacity often exists but remains invisible to users as well as admins. And therein lies the problem: companies may engage wasteful spending in ordering new storage equipment instead of making the most of their existing idle storage and maximizing storage utilization.

Small wonder then that storage admins and capacity planners wish to be able to detect dark storage and look for powerful tools in order to reduce the part of storage and money wasted due to inefficient capacity allocation. 

 

Jedi, the time has come to join the light side of the force…

 

SENTRY TOGETHER WITH BMC: AND THE FORCE AWAKENS!

Various capacity management tools that are capable of detecting dark storage and other utilization-related issues exist but, contrary to TrueSight Capacity Optimization used in conjunction with Sentry’s ETLs, these solutions rarely cover all existing storage systems.

Sentry’s ETLs for TrueSight CO are designed to help administrators detect unidentified dark storage and better assess their storage utilization for a wide range of platforms: EMC, NetApp, Hitachi, Dell, HP 3PAR, etc.

By default, several TrueSight CO dashboard views are available to let admins quickly monitor the overall capacity for all their storage systems and verify the resource utilization for volumes. IT admins can for example easily identify unmapped or unused volumes allocated to decommissioned servers and then take the necessary actions to reclaim unused storage capacity.

 

Reclaiming Unused Storage Capacity by Identifying Unmapped or Unused Volumes

 

In addition, Sentry’s Storage Capacity Views and Reports for TrueSight CO offers out-of-the-box reports integrating numerous analyses and models on storage allocation. These reports include valuable graphs displaying for example: Storage Capacity, Available Capacity, Consumed Capacity, and Subscribed Capacity metrics for each available storage pool.

 

Generating Reports with Storage Capacity Views and Reports for TrueSight CO.png

Generating Reports with Storage Capacity Views and Reports for TrueSight CO

 

But there is more, with Sentry’s Storage Capacity Optimization solution, administrators can:

  • Identify the capacity actually consumed per host and know which storage system or which storage pool this capacity has been allocated from.
  • Determine which storage pool from which storage system is best suited to host the storage capacity required.
  • Analyze storage capacity utilization at the storage systems and storage pools levels to better control storage costs.
  • Prevent oversubscription situations and unrecoverable data loss and corruption.
  • Guarantee enough remaining space to answer allocation requests as quickly as possible and know which disks can be used to extend the capacity of storage pools.

With all this information at hand, storage administrators and capacity planners will be able to achieve smooth storage administration and plan for additional storage capacity only when really needed.

 

CHOOSE WISELY, CHOOSE SENTRY

By now, you should be more familiar with dark storage and know how to defeat it. Ensuring enough remaining storage space to answer allocation needs and guaranteeing that consumers use allocated storage efficiently is not an easy task. Nevertheless, the ability to recognize and report dark storage contributes to making Sentry’ ETLs for TrueSight Capacity Optimization the best existing solution to simplify any storage manager’s job. Recognized for its professional expertise and technical excellence, Sentry and its renowned Storage Capacity Optimization solution will ultimately help you:

  • Reduce waste in allocated but unused storage capacity
  • Lower storage costs by increasing utilization
  • Anticipate future storage requirements
  • Make more timely purchases

 

And remember that with Sentry and BMC, the Force will be with you… always.

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The latest version of IBM SVC-Storwize KM for PATROL is now available to download. It includes improvements as well as several fixed issues, such as:

  • The way IBM SVC-Storwize KM determines whether the PATROL Agent is configured via CMA or Classic Mode has been improved
  • In order to optimize the monitoring on large environment, you can now customize the discovery and the collect processes timeouts by using two new configuration variables: discoveryOperationTimeout and collectOperationTimeout.
  • The password algorithm encryption is now handled by the PATROL Agent.

Read the product’s Release Notes for an exhaustive list of changes, improvements and fixed issues.

→ Download

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The latest version of Monitoring Studio KM for PATROL is now available to download. It includes major new features and improvements, such as:

  • Nagios Plugins Integration: Full monitoring of metrics resulting from a local or remote Nagios plugin execution via the new Nagios Plugin Monitor.
  • Nagios configuration: Import of entire Nagios configurations into BMC TrueSight Operations Management.
  • E-mail alert actions configuration through CMA by configuring the SMTP server and Group Alert Actions in CMA.
  • Remote UNIX/Linux host monitoring: Possibility to use private key and passphrase-based SSH authentication for connecting to remote UNIX/Linux hosts.
  • Host Cloning: To replicate monitoring settings from one host to another. This feature greatly facilitates the set-up of several hosts that need to be monitored in a similar manner.

 

Read the product’s Release Notes for an exhaustive list of changes, improvements and fixed issues.

→ Download

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NAGIOS AND THE PLUGIN LIBRARY

Nagios is an open-source monitoring solution. Despite its many shortcomings, there is one good thing in Nagios: its library of plugins available for free in various areas such as Cloud, Email, Blog, E-commerce, Hardware, Security, and many more. Including for example: Amazon AWS, Cloudera, Hadoop, OpenStack, Windows Azure, or Cisco Jabber.

 

TRUESIGHT AND THE NAGIOS PLUGINS

When IT administrators using BMC TrueSight Operations Management need to monitor a large number of technologies: they now have the option of leveraging one of the existing Nagios plugins!

 

Sentry Software and BMC offer them the ability to use natively any of these plugins in their TrueSight environment without rewriting all over again and in just a few clicks.

 

MS92_CMA_UI.pngMonitoring Studio 9.2 TrueSight OM User Interface
Nagios Plugin Configuration

 

NAGIOS PLUGIN INTEGRATION: TRUESIGHT OM ENVIRONMENT

The architecture diagram below represents a typical TrueSight Operations Management environment:

Monitoring_Studio_9.2_diagram_architecture.png

Monitoring Studio is just a standard KM that is loaded and running on the PATROL agent. It is the module that allows admins to execute a Nagios plugin to monitor their servers and applications (both local and remote).

It is important to note that Nagios Server is not needed to use Nagios plugins in TrueSight Operations Management.

 

NAGIOS PLUGIN INTEGRATION: HOW IT WORKS

Leveraging Nagios plugins with Monitoring Studio is very simple and requires 2 steps only:

1Download_2Integrate_3Monitor.png

  1. First, admins need to download the Nagios plugin of their choice (typically from Nagios Exchange)
  2. Then, they need to configure Monitoring Studio to run this plugin in their TrueSight environment

 

And that’s it! Monitoring Studio then starts monitoring the targeted technology by running the configured Nagios plugin natively.

 

CONCLUSION

The latest version of Monitoring Studio gives IT administrators the opportunity to save time and monitor the many heterogeneous technologies in place in their organization, without reinventing the wheel by using an already existing large set of Nagios Plugins in their TrueSight environment.

 

Try it for yourself, download Monitoring Studio 9.2.00 without further delay and benefit today from:

  • A better coverage of the various technologies in your organization
  • A huge amount of ready-to-use plugins
  • An enriched monitoring experience

 

LEARN MORE

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From Nagios to TrueSight with Monitoring Studio

Nagios is a popular open-source monitoring solution which is often implemented by default to monitor non-critical parts of the IT in many organizations. It’s simple, free, and has a rich set of plugins.

 

IT professionals might wonder then why they should migrate from Nagios to TrueSight. The answer is simple and obvious, Nagios has too many limitations:

 

Wrong-24.png Painful configuration

Wrong-24.png Ungainly interface

Wrong-24.png No auto-baselining, no root cause analysis, no correlation, no application mapping

Wrong-24.png Only monitors non-critical areas of IT

 

To put it simply, Nagios lacks many of the essential features of modern monitoring solutions.

Until now, migrating from Nagios to TrueSight was a time-consuming, costly, and painful project that many organizations avoided because of the costs involved. Migrating from Nagios to TrueSight used to mean:

 

Check-24.png Re-define all hosts to be monitored

Check-24.png Re-create with TrueSight standard modules the monitoring done with Nagios plugins

Check-24.png Re-define all alert thresholds

With version 9.2 of Monitoring Studio, the migration from Nagios to BMC TrueSight Operations Management is now child's play and a matter of minutes.

 

A SIMPLE MIGRATION PROCEDURE

With Monitoring Studio 9.2.00, every effort has been made to make admins’ life easier by providing them with a convenient and intuitive migration interface. The migration procedure is extremely simple and can be summarized in three points only:1Install_2Import_3Cleanup.png

  1. First, IT admins install the PATROL Agent and the latest Monitoring Studio package on their Nagios server itself.
  2. Then, they import their Nagios configuration using a user-friendly wizard that will translate their Nagios configuration into a TrueSight configuration. They just need to specify the credentials required to connect to the monitored systems.
  3. And finally, they can stop their Nagios server, and NRPE agents as they are no longer needed.

 

And that’s it! Monitoring Studio will start using the Nagios plugins natively.

 

 

BEFORE, DURING, AND AFTER THE MIGRATION

 

archdiagram1.pngAs explained previously, administrators using Nagios do not need to worry about the migration process as the latter is totally handled by Monitoring Studio itself. It is nonetheless interesting to see more in details the changes made in their IT environment.

 

First, before the migration, BMC and Nagios environments are separated and work independently: the already existing Nagios environment on one side, and the recently set BMC TrueSight Operations Management environment on the other.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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archdiagram2.pngThen, during the migration, Monitoring Studio detects and interprets Nagios Groups, Hosts, and Services that are configured on the Nagios server. It imports them, and creates the corresponding instances in the Monitoring Studio environment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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archdiagram3.pngFinally, after the migration, the objects defined on the Nagios Server will be copied to Monitoring Studio and the same plugins used by the Nagios Server to monitor the objects will be called from Monitoring Studio, including standard plugins, plugins from 3rd party and custom    plugins.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CONCLUSION

Administrators who have chosen simplicity by opting by default for Nagios, rapidly end up hampered by its lack of essential features, and hindered from doing what they really want. They wish to evolve and go further with the monitoring of their various technologies and migrating turns out to be the only solution.

For these admins, Sentry Software has developed Monitoring Studio: the perfect tool for a complete and smooth transition to BMC TrueSight Operations Management, a full agent-less monitoring solution with valuable and powerful features to fully meet any admins’ custom monitoring needs and go beyond.

 

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Most IT administrators have already heard about Syslog. Some of them may even have considered using it for monitoring their hardware. But have these admins measured the risks associated to such a choice? Are they aware of all the aspects and implications of going down that bumpy road? This article gives an overview of using Syslog as a hardware monitoring solution and draws a comparison with Sentry’s Hardware Monitoring solution.

 

SYSLOG: QUICK REMINDER

Syslog is a key reference in the world of logging that is used to collect log data from different platforms and forward it to Syslog Server. This log data can include almost any device or application activity, such as changes to system settings or user logins. The original Syslog protocol was developed in the early 1980s to record application events for debugging purposes. It quickly became a popular tool for other development projects to transport event messages between computer systems and software applications.

 

Broadly speaking, Syslog can refer to three different concepts: the application that collects events, the protocol that forwards events, and the log messages which include information such as when, where and why the event was sent.

 

MONITORING WITH SYSLOG: DANGER AHEAD

Syslog is not a vendor-agnostic solution. Although it may be suitable for a few UNIX systems, it is definitely not adapted to large heterogeneous datacenters operating multi-vendor platforms. In large environments, each different platform, model, and even driver creates different sets of syslog entries. Configuring the monitoring of a new component requires serious effort, precious time, and a great deal of money as each new added component requires an internal study to determine how hardware failures are reported.

 

The Syslog solution is what we call a passive monitoring solution, meaning that it does not perform real-time monitoring and does not proactively analyze data but merely reads the data from the log messages sent by the monitored systems. It is therefore not possible to predict potential hardware issues. When the log messages are sent, it is always too late: the problem has already occurred. Besides, Syslog uses a UDP connection for log transport lacking congestion control mechanisms which could possibly result in message transmission delay or packet loss.

 

There is no standard format defined for log messages. The content of log messages may indeed vary greatly and may not be readable by humans. As a consequence, IT admins may need to execute complex scripts or even purchase automated log-analyzers to parse syslog entries. To add to the complexity, administrators can only parse the events which already occurred in the past: any new event occurring for the first time will be skipped. Thus, many important events can be missed.

 

Choosing Syslog is agreeing to spend long hours in configuration and fine-tuning as by default, Syslog is missing some critical features needed to be a comprehensive monitoring solution. For example, thresholds need to be set manually and do not necessarily follow the recommendations provided by the vendors, and graphs are not available without third-party commercial tools.

 

MONITORING WITH HARDWARE SENTRY: A RISK-FREE PATH

Sentry’s Hardware Monitoring solution offers out-of-the box monitoring capabilities for almost all types of hardware devices: physical, virtual and blade servers, SAN switches, tape libraries, and so on. Indeed, the agent-based solution provides real-time active monitoring and constantly verifies the state of all hardware devices in datacenters. Sentry’s solution provides full coverage for a large variety of components: disks (controllers, hard disks, RAIDs, etc.), environment (power supplies, temperature sensors, fans, etc.), critical devices (processors, memory modules, network cards, etc.), or network links (network adapters, data traffic, bandwidth utilization, etc.).

 

IT administrators can effortlessly monitor their heterogeneous infrastructure into one single console since all events triggered by the Hardware Monitoring solution when a hardware problem occurs, are easy to read and seamlessly integrate into a single-point monitoring solution: TrueSight Operations Management and its powerful BMC TrueSight Event and Impact Manager. IT Admins can thus quickly check the overall health of their hardware environment at one glance.

 

Thresholds are set according to the manufacturers' recommendations but IT administrators can also freely customize them. As soon as these thresholds are breached, alarms are triggered. Admins can thus easily detect hardware failures in their servers and take action before it is too late. They are also provided with valuable graphs and detailed information about faulty components to facilitate replacement as well as relevant recommendations for faster technical problem resolution.

 

Finally, the vendor-agnostic solution enables IT admins to create and schedule several reports on the data collected from monitored devices. The solution can for example perform a hardware inventory with detailed information about each device’s characteristics, provide detailed reports about the capacity of the monitored systems, estimate the power consumption of a server, or generate an Ethernet and fiber port traffic report.

 

REACH THE FINISH LINE (in one piece)!

Although using Syslog for basic hardware monitoring may be convenient within small and homogeneous environments, the solution seems inappropriate to larger heterogeneous datacenters and quickly reveals its limitations and shortcomings. Many administrators who are responsible for managing datacenters and solving associated problems for their customers have in the past faced the ‘road closed’ or “dead-end” signs related to the immense complexity of syslog-based monitoring solutions. They have now turned the corner by opting for BMC TrueSight Operations Management in conjunction with Sentry’s Hardware Monitoring solution: a reliable single-point monitoring solution that transforms the way you manage the hardware health of your infrastructure and helps you take incremental steps towards the objectives of your Business Service Management strategy.

 

And you, would you risk the accident or would you choose to follow the road that has been mapped out for you by Sentry and BMC?

 

 

SyslogHardware Sentry + BMC
  • Passive monitoring solution
  • Considerable effort to configure
  • Hidden costs and expensive to maintain
  • Difficult to implement accross multi-platform infrastructures
  • No graphs, reports, or thresholds available
  • Requires third-party commercial tools to be fully useable
  • Real-time active monitoring solution
  • Easy to configure
  • Transparency of prices and economic benefits
  • Vendor-agnostic solution for heterogeneous datacenters
  • Consolidated graphs and powerful thresholds
  • self-sufficient solution

 

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Hardware monitoring is traditionally such a tough task that some IT departments avoid it altogether and prefer sending staff walking around in the server room to check the color of the LEDs in the server racks! That’s the prehistory of server management...

 

Traditionally, in less-prehistoric companies, big IT environments rely on the hardware monitoring tools provided by the server manufacturers. The immediate advantage is that such solutions come free of charge. Apparently so. The challenge is that the more different platforms they have, the more complex the monitoring of these servers gets.

 

WHY FREE VENDOR-SPECIFIC SOLUTIONS AREN’T SO FREE

Hardware vendors (well, most of them) provide some sort of hardware monitoring solutions in the form of agents and consoles. Windows administrators all know HP Insight Management. Sun administrators all know Sun Management Center (SMC). Some people may also mention IBM Director, but it’s far less common.

 

Those solutions are available for free. The issue is that each vendor-specific monitoring solution is specific to one vendor. Sometimes it’s even worse: it’s specific to one server series from one vendor!

 

HP Insight Management, for example, was specifically designed to monitor HP ProLiant servers (actually, it was Compaq at the time, but let’s forget about prehistory). But HP Insight Management cannot monitor IBM xSeries servers. Neither can it monitor IBM AIX systems, nor Sun Solaris servers, nor Dell PowerEdge. It is even bad at monitoring HP-UX systems, as it only integrates with HP-UX’s STM (Support Tools Manager) which fails to gather critical information from the out-of-band management card of such systems (status of power supplies, temperature sensors and fans, notably). And while HP claim they can monitor Dell or IBM servers with HP Insight Management, it is only as a basic SNMP MIB integration. You will then still have to define which SNMP variable is important and the meaning of each possible values of such variables. Painful.

 

The case is easier with IBM Director and Sun Management Center as they don’t even pretend to be able to monitor something else than their own servers.

 

It gets worse. Not all manufacturers have something similar to HP Insight Management. What about IBM AIX? What about Fujitsu-Siemens, NEC and Dell? For such systems, administrators have to write their own scripts to check hardware failures on their servers.

 

All companies have servers from different vendors: HP, IBM, Dell, Sun, NEC, Fujitsu. These companies need to integrate all of the corresponding vendor-specific hardware monitoring solutions (either provided by the manufacturer, or written on their own) into their IT management systems: monitoring consoles, notification systems, incident and problem management, asset management, etc.

 

So, if we take a company with HP ProLiant, HP-UX, IBM xSeries and IBM pSeries (AIX) servers, and this company already put in place an asset management system, an incident management framework and a notification system, the integration diagram would look like that:

free_hw.jpgUnfortunately, when considering about going with another hardware vendor, like Dell or Sun, it is important to have in mind the price of integrating the monitoring of the hardware of these new servers into the asset management, incident management and notification systems. This major fact adds to the complexity and has a cost.

complicated.jpg

So, this “architecture” gets more and more complex for each new vendor or type of server that has to be integrated.

And this gets even worse if a company wants to add a new event management system. Because all of the vendor-specific monitoring products need to be integrated with the new component. This “free” solution is more and more looking like it has some not-so-well hidden costs!

cost.jpgActually, some companies do realize that and avoid purchasing new cheaper servers from another vendor simply because they won’t be able to integrate these servers in their management tools at a reasonable cost!

 

That’s exactly what some server manufacturers want: tie in the customer to their specific platform so they can’t go get cheaper prices elsewhere. That’s what we call a lock-in. And this also explains why such server manufacturers will never provide a solution able to easily monitor servers from their competitors.

 

BMC platforms combined with the Sentry Software’s products form the only monitoring solution that is truly vendor-agnostic. Servers from Dell, HP, IBM, Sun, Fujitsu and NEC running Windows, UNIX or Linux are equally monitored in the BMC TrueSight Operations Management (formerly known as BPPM) environment.

value.jpgIf the IT department wants to buy a new type of servers from a new vendor, they can be assured that it will be covered with BMC TrueSight Operations Management and, in turn, will be fully integrated into the bigger picture with the incident management, the asset management, the event management, etc.

complexity.jpgAs a proof from the market, the largest IT outsourcers, whose job is to manage the heterogeneous IT environment of their customers, all rely on BMC Software and Sentry Software solutions to monitor the diverse hardware platforms of their customers.

 

SO, HERE IS HOW THE THINGS COMPARE:

Patchwork of vendor-specific monitoring solutionsBMC + Sentry
warning_16.jpgComes free of chargeli-green-check.pngLicense fee
warning_16.jpgGaps in the monitoring coverageli-green-check.pngCovers 100% of the IT infrastructure, including storage!
warning_16.jpgHidden cost: Painful integrationli-green-check.pngEasy integration with the management tools
warning_16.jpgHidden cost: Avoiding new (cheaper) vendorsli-green-check.pngEasy integration of new vendors
warning_16.jpgHidden cost: May require custom developmentli-green-check.pngOne single standard software solution
warning_16.jpgHidden and therefore hard to evaluate costs: budget and cost planning nightmareli-green-check.pngCosts reduced to almost just the license fee

As always, beware of the hidden costs behind so-called “free” solutions!

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Sentry Software is proud to announce that Monitoring Studio 9.1.00 is available to download. It includes many new features and improvements as well as several fixed issues, such as:

  • Export/Import Configuration: It is now possible to back up an entire Monitoring Studio configuration, or export a single Group configuration with cleared host information, credentials, or Group Constants to create a Monitoring Studio template which can easily be customized when importing it on another monitored system.
  • SNMP Polling: Monitoring Studio supports SNMP v2c and v3.
  • Database Query Analysis: Oracle Exadata databases are now supported.
  • Command Lines Analysis: It is possible to execute a command locally on the PATROL Agent while monitoring a remote host.
  • Files and Folders Remote Monitoring: The path of the file or folder to monitor supports environment variables.

» Read the product’s Release Notes for an exhaustive list of changes, improvements and fixed issues.

 

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  The latest version of NetApp Filers KM for PATROL is now available to download. It includes many new features and improvements as well as several fixed issues, such as:

  • The product can automatically determine the NetApp Data ONTAP Mode (7-Mode or C-Mode).
  • The LinkStatus parameter provides more accurate information about the Ethernet Ports’ status.
  • When users did not have the rights required to request the NetApp API, an improper error message was logged preventing the real cause to be identified.

 

» Read the product’s Release Notes for an exhaustive list of changes, improvements and fixed issues.

 

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