NetIQ Revamps AppManager Suite, Adds SLA Functionality

Windows NT servers seem to reproduce like rabbits, to the point where their proliferation becomes an IT management headache. In early 1997, Microsoft Corp. made management of distributed Windows NT systems one of its top priorities, tapping independent software vendors to help get the job done.

One such company, NetIQ Corp. (Santa Clara, Calif.,, publisher of the Windows NT management tool AppManager Suite, hopes that version 3.0 of its flagship product will help ease the management burden of distributed Windows NT servers, and establish AppManager Suite as the product to beat in a contentious marketplace.

"What AppManager has always done is focus on applications management for Windows NT systems," explains Tom Kemp, vice president of marketing at NetIQ. "[In version 3.0 of the AppManager Suite,] we’ve added support for Citrix WinFrame, Microsoft Terminal Server, extensive reporting capabilities, [and] service level management functionality -- so we provide specific things having to do with those environments."

New in version 3.0 of the NetIQ AppManager Suite is a revamped reporting engine that generates more than 150 prepackaged performance and service-level management reports. We’ve also added support for Dell OpenManage, HP TopTools for Servers, as well as NEC’s ESM Pro," adds Kemp.

AppManager 3.0 also includes a new Web-based user interface that lets users start and stop monitoring functions, change thresholds, run reports, view real-time graphs and close events.

Many vendors are betting that the Web-based Enterprise Management (WBEM) initiative will help ease the management of distributed Windows NT servers. Accordingly, AppManager 3.0 also features support for Microsoft’s WBEM initiative, in addition to compliance with the Microsoft Management Console (MMC), and certification for forthcoming Microsoft releases such as SQL Server 7.0 and Windows NT 5.0.

Service level agreements are a major focal point for many organizations, and according to Ching Fa-Hwang , president and CEO of NetIQ, AppManager Suite 3.0 now provides Service Level Management (SLM) functionality that can help organizations assess actual IT needs, as well as set realistic thresholds for application and hardware performance.

SLM capabilities help IT organizations make good on the stipulations of service level agreements, which are guidelines devised by IT to establish acceptable user response times for specific applications and define a realistic recovery window for the resolution of application or service problems.

"A big focus has been meeting and addressing how people can address service level agreements, but end users are forced to kind of figure out whether they’re meeting those agreements themselves," Fa-Hwang notes. Consequently, AppManager Suite 3.0’s performance, inventory and service-level management reports are accessible from either the AppManager Web Access Console or from the AppManager Report Manager.

According to Dan Kusnetzky, director of worldwide operating environments research at International Data Corp. (Framingham, Mass.), tools such as AppManager Suite 3.0 help to fill in the cracks in Microsoft’s Windows NT management framework. "Microsoft has been leading [the market] with a functional server rather than a multifunctional server approach to most large application requirements," Kusnetzky explains. "This approach allows Windows NT to appear to scale enough to handle many organizations’ application portfolio, but it also imposes a significant management burden."

AppManager Suite 3.0’s Windows NT focus and comprehensive reporting skills can help ease this management burden, however. "This approach [with Windows NT] has been one of the major shortcomings of Microsoft's story in the enterprise," Kusnetzky contends. "[A tool such as AppManager Suite 3.0], which makes it possible to treat many individual servers as a single server for management purposes, will certainly lower the cost of administration."