Who needs it? OpenNMS is intended for large enterprises with complex networking infrastructures. Most of the value from the tool comes through customization to monitor network performance. Smaller companies may find that OpenNMS is geared more toward larger data centers.
How much does it cost? OpenNMS, while mentioned frequently by IT pros as a powerful data center utility, can also be the most expensive one in our roundup. As an open-source tool, OpenNMS is free to download and install. However, support fees start at around $15,000, and training classes run about $2,500 per seat.
Why is it better than the competition? The key differentiator with OpenNMS is scalability. Tarus Balog, an OpenNMS spokesperson, says that some customers have used the product to monitor as many as 60,000 devices on an enterprise network. Another customer monitors 1.2 million SNMP data points every five minutes, and a third processes 120,000 log events every minute. Balog says deployment time is also much shorter than with commercial options -- usually just a few days -- unless a lot of customization is required.
What are its limitations? OpenNMS is an open-source tool, but the support costs can match or even exceed what you'd expect from a commercial monitoring product. The product is customizable, but that requires a high degree of technical savvy. Even Balog admits that the product has a steep learning curve.
What do customers say? "OpenNMS changed the way [our] network and server teams worked," says Mike Huot, a systems architect at Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. The IT group "went from having to constantly hear 'It's a network/server problem' and then having to spend days proving it was not" to knowing exactly what caused the problem.
7. WildPackets OmniPeek Enterprise
What is it? An all-purpose networking troubleshooting utility, OmniPeek Enterprise allows you to perform deep packet inspections on your network to see what is causing slowdowns. The tool works for all kinds of network infrastructures, including VoIP and video networks. It also works on all flavors of Ethernet and on Wi-Fi networks. The interface uses a tree structure to view the hierarchy of networks. There are four different versions of the tool available, with different levels of functionality, for small businesses and individual network engineers on up to enterprise deployments.
Who needs it? WildPackets OmniPeek Enterprise is primarily used by network engineers in a data center to monitor and troubleshoot network problems.
How much does it cost? The software starts at about $5,000, depending on the data center's size, plus a yearly maintenance support fee that's 20% of the total cost. The software does not require add-on modules for VoIP or video, but distributed computing environments may need to add extra agents. These "OmniEngines" work across multiple locations and branch offices to monitor networks.
Why is it better than the competition? The pricing model is a differentiator because it doesn't require a separate module -- that is, extra fees -- for VoIP, video and other multimedia services. OmniPeek Enterprise also performs real-time network monitoring and includes analysis of the network data after the monitoring has occurred.