Network Management Cafeteria-Style
The Jewish Home and Hospital of N.Y. uses an assortment of products from a variety of companies to manage its network.
|Assorted Network Management Products |
Aprisma Management Technologies
Compaq Computer Corp.
Computer Associates International Inc.
Somix Technologies Inc.
It would be great if any management suite matched the hype, that is, it actually managed every aspect of your enterprise. In the real world, of course, that's never the case, as the Jewish Home and Hospital of New York (JHH) discovered.
JHH's four T1-linked campuses serve up a complex mix of Windows, Unix, AIX and OS 4. And its IT department is in the midst of rolling out hundreds of laptops attached to medicine carts, which will access pharmaceutical databases via Enterasys wireless LANs.
JHH installed Computer Associate's Unicenter in 1998 and Peter Bloom, Director of Technical Services, especially liked the way Unicenter's Advanced Help Desk, and the Asset Management Option, which he uses for remote desktop management, handled management chores.
Unicenter also managed the hospital's Compaq servers as well as the AS/400 and RS/6000s, and its broad feature range made it the logical choice to become the central management system for the entire network.
But JHH couldn't obtain all the network data it needed. "The Computer Associates' software lacked the ability to manage some of our devices, especially bandwidth utilization and T1s," says Bloom.
Bandwidth was becoming a real challenge. Any slowdown between the Manhattan headquarters and JHH's Bronx and Westchester campuses, and Bloom heard about it. "We have 1,300 users and when stuff is down they respond quicker than most software packages," he explains.
But "my biggest problem is identifying what is causing slowdowns on the traffic flow," says Bloom. The service provider, Verizon, would deny responsibility, saying nothing was wrong at its end. And Unicenter could not provide the hard data to prove otherwise.
To get to the bottom of the network bottlenecks, Bloom deployed WebNM. This Web-based suite contains modules for alarm management, hardware and software inventory, remote desktop administration and trouble ticketing, but what sold Bloom were its performance and service level reporting tools.
"We needed a system that would not only monitor bandwidth," he says, "but would pinpoint problems on the LAN or WAN, and tell us whether they're application- or hardware-based."
A Somix consultant spent a few days installing and configuring the software on site, teaching and showing staff how to use WebNM. He loaded the suite on an existing shared application server, imported network maps from Spectrum and set up the graphs and alarms. Once done, Bloom found the precise data he'd been missing.
"With Unicenter I might see performance degradation, but not know what caused it," he says. "The first time I brought Somix up it showed me that two T1s were down. I called Verizon and got them to fix it."
The application showed him that certain T1 utilizations were causing traffic jams on one of the frame relay connections. He's now changing those to a point-to-point connection. In addition, the software allowed him to track nagging bottlenecks back to old Novell servers. Taking them off the network immediately improved traffic flow.
|WebNM ||Somix Technolgies Inc. ||www.somix.com ||Manage network traffic. |
|Unicenter TNG ||Computer Associates International Inc. ||www.cai.com ||Monitor and manage servers; deploy software; manage assets; automate help desk. |
|Compaq Insight ||Compaq Computer Corp. ||www.compaq.com ||Provide server performance information to Unicenter TNG Manager. |
|Spectrum ||Aprisma Management Technologies ||www.aprisma.com ||Monitor and manage hubs in wireless LANs; map network. |
But purchasing and installing all the necessary software elements is just the beginning. Bloom says the real trick lies in selecting the best options from among the overlapping functionalities, and getting all pieces to work smoothly together.
At JHH, that means augmenting Unicenter with WebNM. "Somix provides a really broad view of all hubs, servers and printers, shows why they're up or down and gives me traffic studies on my T1s and all my legs," he explains.
JHH utilizes Aprisma's Spectrum software on Enterasys wireless nodes. It's used to map out hubs, switches, routers and whole LAN/WAN, set traps and manage the wireless hubs.
Unicenter manages the servers using CIM as well as other similar server management systems from different hardware vendors. Bloom continues to use Unicenter‘s Advanced Help Desk, Asset Management Option and software deployment modules. Although certain of the functions are present in WebNM, he feels CA offers more complete solutions in these areas. "We also monitor printers with TNG," says Bloom, "since it gives us the specifics we need such as when there's a paper jam."
What's still lacking, however, is one central control panel to unite all the pieces of software. Eventually, Bloom hopes this function will be performed by Unicenter, providing CA engineers are able to successfully reconfigure it to extract information from WebNM. "That way I will have a world view of the LAN and WAN and be able to manage it from one area," he says.
Details: Jewish Home and Hospital of New York
Team Leader: Peter Bloom, Director of Technical Services and Assistant Director of Information Services
Organization: Jewish Home and Hospital of N.Y.
Scope: Four locations with 1,300 users, 60+ servers, 160 wireless nodes and 400 wireless laptops. WebNM implementation took 3 to 4 days at a cost of $26,000. Unicenter TNG installation, re-installation and reconfiguring cost $304,000 over four years.
4 different sites with 1,300 total desktop users (Windows 95/98/2000) connected by T1s.
1 AS/400 running OS4 for pharmacy and longterm care software.
2 RS/6000s running AIX for financial and dietary applications.
4 Unix servers MUMPS (Massachusetts General Hospital Utility Multi-Programming System).
60+ servers running NT 4.0.
160 Enterasys Wireless Nodes inside hospitals giving 400 laptops access to the mainframe.
Solution: Supplemented existing Unicenter TNG package with:
Somix Technology's WebNM to monitor network devices and bandwidth utilization.
Compaq Insight Manager to monitor servers.
Aprisma Spectrum to take care of wireless nodes.
Results: When WebNM went online it immediately spotted two downed T1s. The proof it provided allowed JHH to report the problem and get them fixed by the service provider (Verizon).
Future Challenges: Re-installing Unicenter to integrate it with Somix application.
Get a real handle on what you want to monitor with the software before you seek the solution.
Your Request For Proposal should include your full plans so vendors know what they're up against. Vendors, in turn, should put every single aspect of their solution in writing.
Follow-up monitoring of the vendor is extremely important, to ensure there's no disconnect between the salesman's promise and the reality of installation.
Milestones: Somix up and running in less than a week.