Onion Peel Software's NeRD: NeRD Extends HP OpenView Manageability

The OpenView suite from HP is a good solution, but it still has room for some improvements. The Network Reporting Depot, or NeRD, from Onion Peel Software is one solution that can help smooth over some of OpenView’s rough spots.

OpenView is great at providing a comprehensive, enterprisewide network view, says Doug Allison, Vice President of Business Development with OPS. But it sometimes doesn’t natively provide the granularity of information that network managers often need.

NeRD works by leveraging OpenView’s object database as a means to collect and present information pertaining to enterprise LAN and WAN interfaces. NeRD is module-based, and customers can order additional modules to suit their network environments. NeRD ships with a base module, that includes LAN/WAN reporting statistics support.

"The initial release includes all of the LAN/WAN reporting statistics, and we’re working on Frame Relay, ATM and router specific modules," says Allison. "Following these, we plan to release a server module, which will have the ability to look cross platform, and our expectation is to support NT from a collection standpoint and still run on HP-UX." And because NeRD integrates with HP’s Network Node Manager, Allison says that the product minimizes traffic on, and disruption to, enterprise networks.

Allison says that NeRD’s pricing schema is salutary for most IT budgets, as it is priced on a per module and not a per device basis, which means that as the size of an enterprise network grows, the cost of managing it with NeRD remains the same.

"It runs on both Solaris and HP-UX and on those platforms, it’s dependent upon the operating system having Network Node Manager on it," he explains. "Our second release will be a Linux-based product that will be able to run without Node Manager."

According to Rob Enderle, a senior analyst with the Giga Information Group, tools like NeRD can often help to augment inherently complicated network management frameworks such as HP OpenView and make them easier to administer as well.

"IT spends most of its time trying to get its arms around its network environment and frameworks [like HP OpenView] and provide a comprehensive ability to do that," Enderle says. "The complexity of these frameworks has been that implementing them and actually using them has been prohibitively time-consuming."

Because NeRD can provide a nitty-gritty, low-level view of what goes on in LAN and WAN environments, Enderle indicates that it could be an invaluable way to extend the management efficacy of the HP OpenView environment.

"Any tool that can assist in the management and reporting in these environments is really what’s needed," he observes. "Otherwise, for a lot of low-level things [network administrators] have to go out and do physical discovery."