Entuity grants network admins a third Eye
Shortcomings and high price hinder Eye of the Storm 4.5's potencyFollow @pvenezia
Far too many enterprise networks today lack an essential tool: comprehensive monitoring. Most have some form of connectivity monitoring, such as simple ping tests to ensure that remote sites and Internet access are functional, but the proactive monitoring commonly stops there.
Entuity’s Eye of the Storm 4.5 offers a turnkey solution to this problem. Eye is a Web- and Java-based monitoring package designed to get deep inside a network’s routers and switches, inspecting device metrics such as memory and CPU utilization, and port data, such as bandwidth usage, errors, and more.
In practice it functions well, but it is occasionally obtuse in navigation, reporting, and file-based configuration; it’s also light on advanced functions, which is puzzling given the product’s $50,000 price tag.
The biggest problem Entuity faces is that there’s a plethora of comparable open source network-monitoring solutions out there, from MRTG (Multi Router Traffic Grapher) and Cacti, to Big Sister and Nagios. This is largely due to the fact that network monitoring is easy pickings for Perl and PHP, with modules and classes written specifically to gather and parse data from a variety of network devices, and the ubiquitous nature of SNMP.
That said, many open source tools require slightly more elbow grease to install and deploy, which may be a stumbling block for smaller companies or for admins without the skills or desire to invest the time in an open source solution. And of course, there’s no company behind those products -- which can be good or bad, depending on your point of view.
A definite feather in Eye’s cap is its broad device support, ranging from Cisco, HP, and Nortel through much less popular (or even discontinued) devices from companies such as Netopia, Marconi, Timestep, and Xyplex. The full list of supported devices numbers well over a thousand.
Eye has roots in open source. The database back end is MySQL 3.23.58, leveraging the cross-platform nature of that database whether deployed on Windows or Linux. Eye can be installed under Windows or certain Linux versions, including Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3.
I installed Eye on a dedicated RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) 3 server with 512MB RAM and a single 1.7GHz Pentium 4 CPU, which is near the minimum recommended spec. I hooked up the appliance to a production network with several fully populated Cisco 6509 Layer 3 switches and a large array of Cisco routers connecting several remote sites and handling several connections to the Internet.
Installing the tool on Linux is fairly straightforward. Eye isn’t useful immediately, however: It takes a few days for the polling processes to gather enough data on the network. After installing Eye on the RHEL 3 system, I left it alone for several weeks, collecting data from the routers and switches I’d added to the system.
This is one of Eye’s weaknesses. To begin monitoring the network, all of the switches and routers need to be manually populated in the Web UI, or uploaded as a CSV file. Given that Eye can’t support every managed switch or router available, the list of these devices and their manufacturers, although extensive, is finite. This means that Eye should have the capability of discovering other switches and routers on the network via protocols such as CDP (Cisco Discovery Protocol). Many open source packages have this capability, so the lack of this feature is rather glaring.