What IT admins love/hate about 8 top network monitoring tools

IT administrators discuss the most valuable features of eight network monitoring products – from vendors such as CA, Microsoft, NetScout, Opsview and Nagios -- and the features that need improvement.

Network monitoring systems typically look for slow, overloaded, failing or crashed servers, routers, switches and network connections – and alert network administrators to the problem. According to the IT Central Station user community, the most important criteria to consider when choosing network monitoring software are scalability, flexibility and multi-tenancy.

Eight of the top-ranked network monitoring software products are CA Unified Infrastructure Management, SevOne, Microsoft SCOM, FortiSIEM (AccelOps), ScienceLogic, NetScout TruView, Opsview Enterprise and Nagios, according to online reviews by enterprise users in the IT Central Station community.

But what do enterprise users really think about these tools? Here, users give a shout-out for some of their favorite features, but also give the vendors a little tough love.

Editor’s note: These reviews of select network monitoring software products come from the IT Central Station community. They are the opinions of the users and are based on their own experiences.

CA Unified Infrastructure Management (CA UIM)


“Through action automation (using NAS and robot actions) we got reduced operational effort, improved operative tasks, and optimization of resources.”
-- Luis M., Services Engineer at a tech services company
“Since it supports a wide range of different monitoring technologies, it allowed us to turn off GUIs from other tools and consolidate them into [CA UIM], making it a single console. Plus, the dashboards do a great job of showing us what is happening.”
-- Joao E., Consultant at a tech consulting company
“It helps us to monitor critical servers, applications services, etc. We have many databases, hundreds of probes, and thousands of applications. This tool helps us manage all these and gives us insight into what's going on in our infrastructure.”
-- Shahzada R., Solution Architect at a tech consulting company


“Some of the Java content is a little buggy, and I would definitely like to see continued upgrades and improvements in the GUI.”
-- Reo E., Service Management Engineer II at a software R&D company
“Compared to other tools, it has less out-of-the-box correlation. [While] customization can be done by LUA scripting… an advanced correlation option should also be included out of the box.”
-- Vachaspathji N., IT Administrator at a tech company
“It's too modular. If you set up an alarm for 10 different things but the actual host is down, then, in theory, you could get 10 alarms. Going forward, it would be nice if there was some kind of awareness of not just the host, but it knows what a service is and you can define it, it can suppress those kinds of alarms. That way, you only really get one alarm that is important instead of getting flooded with 10 or 15.”
-- SrSystemsEngineer3294, Senior Systems Engineer at an insurance company

You can read more CA Unified Infrastructure Management reviews on IT Central Station.



“It diagnoses and separates network issues from application issues based on flow analysis.”
-- Akash T., Solution Architect at a tech company
“The reporting capabilities provided important metrics and data that helped in the oversight of our system, network, and overall IT infrastructure, both in terms of applications and hardware.”
-- Abdul-Bari K., Senior Software Engineer at a communications service provider
“It's given us the ability to accommodate our company's entire global network infrastructure (routers, switches, load balancers, firewalls, etc.) and provide historical trending analytics for interfaces and network traffic … over a chosen time period.”
-- Ken O., Network Management Development and Support at a tech services company


“In the area of server monitoring, it has some areas for improvement. For example, when you need to measure the CPU usage on Windows servers, it does not have the option to measure the total usage of CPU, only the measure of each core or CPU. Total CPU usage is something that's important to us.”
-- InfoMngmtSrEng609, Information Management Senior Engineer at a tech services company
“The way they handle their data migration while upgrading the system needs to be simplified and standardized.”
-- Tools&AutomationMngr916, Manager of Tools and Automation at a tech company
“We would like heat mapping and more detailed data. But in a general sense the initial mission was to get a more informed viewpoint of traffic in our network, and they knocked that out of the park.”
-- Mark L., Network Engineer at a government agency

You can read more SevOne reviews on IT Central Station.

Microsoft SCOM


“It is easy to deploy and configure, has rich out-of-the-box monitoring capabilities for Windows environments, and can be easily extended with XML and scripting knowledge.”
-- Mikhail D., Senior Officer in IT department at a tech services company
“IT management experienced a big improvement after implementation of this product. We use very tight integration with service desk software. IT service [metrics] increased significantly.”
-- Oleksandr P., Chief of Monitoring Service at a retailer
“Its flexibility, and the ability to create Management Packs to monitor different programs or devices. No matter what it is you want to monitor or how you want to monitor, it can be done.”
-- Stevan D., SCOM Senior Engineer at a retailer


“SCOM agents have a heavy footprint. Would like a lighter, more-efficient footprint. It takes a developer’s mindset to fully utilize SCOM’s potential. I would like easier deployment of Management Packs and custom monitors.”
-- Robert P., Manager of Monitoring, Performance and Availability at a hospitality company
“It would be nice to see the old Management Pack Designer come back, as you could quickly design and build a MP without a deep understanding of the XML code behind it.”
-- QAEng325, QA Engineer at a consumer goods company
“I would like to see true multi-tenancy support. [For] service provider types of customers, it's quite difficult to have a complete monitoring view for different tenants.”
-- Baris D., Solution Architect at a recruiting/HR firm

You can read more SCOM reviews on IT Central Station.

Fortinet FortiSIEM (AccelOps)


“There are things like dashboards and reports (pre-configured and custom) that let me know that things are operating the way they should be, and when they are not. Reports and alerts help identify security risks, identify performance problems, and help in capacity planning.”
-- Randy O., Infrastructure Operations Manager at a software R&D company
“With the online-based monitoring we've set up, we've been able to watch trends of attempted attacks on our network. We're also able to monitor our account issues internally as attackers attempt to log into our accounts.”
-- Howard G., Director of IT at a healthcare company
“The product doesn’t require a lot of manpower, so there isn’t a lot of tuning or management overhead required for it.”
-- EntInfoSecArchitect979, Senior Enterprise Information Security Architect at a health, wellness and fitness company


“Ping monitors are highly configurable, but it would be nice to have a simpler monitor to go with it.”
-- Thomas R., Systems Administrator at a tech services company
“Creating parsers to [analyze] unknown events or currently unsupported devices is extremely cumbersome.”
-- InfoSecTL012, Information Security Services Team Leader at a financial services firm
“The dashboards need to be improved. It gives you so much detail, but sometimes too much detail -- especially to an executive, it's too much.”
-- Michael D., Information Security Officer at an aerospace/defense firm

You can read more AccelOps reviews on IT Central Station.



“With the ability to create custom events [for specific devices or applications], administrators can … ensure you are on top of issues and stabilizing your environment.”
-- Jason K., Senior IT Infrastructure Specialist at a tech vendor
“Event creation, device relation building and customization are excellent aspects of ScienceLogic for infrastructure and application monitoring. Dashboards are another excellent feature, as that provides a visual representation to application owners and support teams.”
-- Arthur P., Associate IT Infrastructure Specialist at a tech vendor
“The ability to see precisely what's happening and how those parts are interacting with a client's IT system.”
-- Nick I., Technology Services Director at a tech services company


“The upgrade process occasionally proves to be exciting. ScienceLogic Support is always able to resolve the exciting issues promptly, but I'd rather [they didn’t] appear in the first place.”
-- Dan M., Member of Technical Staff at a tech company
“The reporting module needs work. We often find ourselves creating reports by accessing the back-end database directly instead of the built-in tools. We would also like to see improvements in the modelling capabilities for the IT service toolset.”
-- Karl F., Senior Director of Systems Integration at a communications service provider
“I would like to see ScienceLogic support Netflow so that it can be used to identify applications that could be affecting network bandwidth.”
-- Paul B., Support Engineer at a tech services company

You can read more ScienceLogic reviews on IT Central Station.

NetScout TruView


“It gives us the ability to determine the root of a problem or a network, whether it's on the network side, the database, application server, or server infrastructure. That is invaluable. It saves so much time, it’s ridiculous.”
-- Boris B., Founder at a tech consulting company
“TruView is very intuitive, and because it gives you real-time visibility and historical data, our troubleshooting flexibility is very robust and amazingly accurate. If a user complains about an issue, we can look at historical data to isolate the problem fast.”
-- Isaac B., Director of IT at a university


“One thing I would like to see is the ability to operationalize it with some templates for various groups. Right now, it's primarily used by the networking group, and then we'll point other groups to a screen that they'll use to do analysis. It would be great if we could just have a set of heuristics that server guys can use or the database guys would use.”
-- Boris B., Founder at a tech consulting company

You can read more NetScout Truview reviews on IT Central Station.

Opsview Enterprise


“The most important feature is the distributed, highly-available monitoring clusters available in the enterprise editions. As we run multiple sites around the world and every second of service disruption costs us money, this feature is critical.”
-- Noah G., Systems & Monitoring Engineer at a communications service provider.
“There are several valuable features for us, including ease of configuration for monitoring new hosts/services, worker redundancy and load balancing, and the fact that it’s compatible with the plethora of existing Nagios plug-ins available on the web.”
-- SystemAdmi381, System Administrator at a university
“It's helped us to stabilize and make sure that every single network item that we add is properly monitored. Of course, if there's anything wrong with a device, we'll know right away.”
-- Oscar A., Network Operations Center Manager at a communications service provider


“In Opsview 4.6.3, there is no provision for making bulk changes to monitored servers via the GUI, though it is possible to custom-script bulk changes via the API. Some of this has been remedied in Opsview 5, released last fall.”
-- Designer006, Designer at a transportation company
“I would love to see support for more database systems which are needed for storing configuration stuff and data.”
-- Valentin H., Cloud Architect at a communications service provider

You can read more Opsview Enterprise reviews on IT Central Station.



“The most valuable features of this product are the very lightweight code and easy-to-manage plug-ins. Apart from the main Nagios core engine, one can add several APIs and add-ons to make the Nagios engine stronger without compromising its performance.”
-- Nishith V., Senior System Engineer at a tech services company
“I think that the most important feature of Nagios is that you can write your own plug-in, so you are able to create your monitoring system based on what you need.”
-- Paolo D., Network Engineer at a business management consultancy
“Before we implemented Nagios, we did not know which servers were up or down until a customer told us. Now, I can see trends over time and it gives me perspective of what needs to be improved and we are able to work proactively, as opposed to reactively.”
-- Joseph B., IT Coordinator at a tech services company


“The configuration and reporting modules need to be improved. I'd like to have them include a basic install package, and if you don't like the packages included, have the ability to replace them with different ones from the Nagios plug-in site.”
-- Massimo D., LAN/WLAN Administrator at a construction company
“While the UI is functional, I have always thought there was room for improvement here.”
-- Brendan O., Software Test Engineer at a communications service provider
“They should develop a way to avoid restarting the entire application upon making any change; enable parallel checks; and improve SNMP support for SNMP traps.”
-- TechTeamLead698, Labs Infrastructure & Technology Team Leader at a tech services company

You can read more Nagios reviews on IT Central Station.

This story, "What IT admins love/hate about 8 top network monitoring tools" was originally published by Network World.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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