Mission Critical's Monitoring Product Manages Network from One Point
Mission Critical Software Inc.’s One Point Operations Manager is an all-seeing, all-knowing security and event log monitoring system for Windows NT and Windows 2000 systems. When setting up a network today, security is viewed as a necessary evil and implemented as a last resort. But it won't be long until security is the first requirement of these installations. Mission Critical Software is trying to make that transition relatively painless.
In Windows NT and Windows 2000 networks, security logs contain essential information that determine a variety of conditions. Problems arise if logs are not safely stored. Bigger problems arise if logs are ignored. One Point Operations Manager allows busy system administrators to monitor a large network of computer systems, both servers and workstations, and fix problems before users are aware of them. This reduces expensive downtime and keeps the workflow moving.
One Point Operations Manager employs a Microsoft SQL Server back-end database to store data to build its logs and reports. It monitors the logs on all the systems on your network, collects events considered important by the administrator, and sends the information to the database. Using SQL queries and built-in reporting, administrators can easily investigate a server, user, or action across the entire monitored network using a Web interface. With many built-in reports and graphs, the product helps automate routine monitoring and reporting needs. Using these reports, IT managers can stay ahead of the growing demand for computing resources and ensure that users have the best possible performance and system availability. Operations Manager can also send out appropriate responses, such as notifying a security administrator, disabling an account, or shutting down a compromised computer.
We found installing One Point Operations Manager to be a nontrivial and time-consuming task, but well worth the effort. The prerequisites are lengthy, including Microsoft SQL Server 7.0, Microsoft Management Console, Microsoft Transaction Server (MTS), Microsoft Data Access Components (MDAC), and Microsoft Access 97 or 2000. The entire installation took about eight hours from start to finish: a classic case of "no pain, no gain." We don’t want to imply that Mission Critical didn’t supply adequate installation instructions. We found the documentation that came with One Point complete down to the last step. The documentation includes a solution guide that provides a high-level overview of the product, a concepts guide for understanding the products architecture and terminology, and an installation guide that includes architecture planning and specific installation procedures. It is imperative that all three guides are reviewed prior to installation or you will end up starting over once you understand where the product is going. Believe it, this happened to us. This isn’t a product that should be installed by the uninitiated or the ill-informed. Mission Critical offered to have someone come onsite to help guide our installation and configuration of One Point so we would be able get the most out of the product in the shortest possible time.
One Point Operations Manager uses a system of rules called ActiveKnowledge to process collected information and guide its responses. Included in the product is a rules library of more than 8,000 rules, covering performance, security, and application conditions along with recommended actions to be taken when those rules are triggered. There is a big learning curve for this product, but it can do some seemingly impossible tasks with ease and grace. We installed rules to monitor all of our online servers, our Web servers, domain name systems, and critical applications. In one case, we set up a rule to restart one application that had a habit of crashing due to a memory leak. The Web server monitoring would alert us when information was collected and stored. We monitored our backup software to ensure proper completion. There are predefined rules in the library for a large collection of industry standard products and other Mission Critical products.
Mission Critical’s use of the Microsoft Management Console (MMC), even for Windows NT systems, is a smart move. Introduced with the Windows NT 4.0 Option Pack, MMC is now the standard tool for all system management within Windows 2000. No viable tool for Windows NT or Windows 2000 should be doing anything other than providing snap-ins for the MMC. We found Mission Critical’s use of the MMC to be full-featured and consistent with the way the MMC is used in other products and in Windows 2000. In addition, One Point provides a Web portal interface for viewing alerts and queries. An administrator can monitor network health from anywhere on the network with a Web connection and browser.
We lived with this product for more than two months, tweaking it to do exactly what we needed. We couldn’t find anything that we wanted to monitor that could not be achieved with this product. Overall, this is an excellent choice for monitoring any size network when operations monitoring is of a critical nature.
One Point Operations Manager
Mission Critical Software Inc., Houston
+ Powerful capabilities to monitor entire enterprise
+ Robust library
+ Uses SQL Server 7.0 to store data
+ Uses MMC
- Difficult to install
- Long "learn to use" time
Out of the box, One Point Operations Manager can monitor
 Windows NT Server
 Windows 2000 Server
 Microsoft Exchange Server
 Microsoft SNA Server
 Microsoft Transaction Server
 Lotus Notes
 Internet Information Server
 Microsoft System Management Server
 One Point Directory Administrator
 One Point Resource Administrator
 One Point Exchange Administrator
 One Point Operations Manager