Entuity 12.5 Network Management Product Review

We’ve found an absolute gem – a feature-rich, eminently scalable, sophisticated and enterprise-ready network testing labs logonetwork monitor.

Executive Summary

Entuity 12.5 is feature-complete, reliable, inexpensive, scalable and easy to use. It supports virtually every kind of device, computer and network link. It recognizes applications, clouds and virtual machines. Entuity 12.5 excels at keeping a network up and running with maximum uptime and availability for critical servers and connections.

Entuity 12.5’s greatest strengths are its breadth of support for network objects, its highly-scalable federated architecture and its sophisticated Web browser-based user interface.

Entuity 12.5 is a single product that you operate with a single console – unlike most other network monitors. It’s enterprise-ready, easy to install and intuitive to use.

Entuity 12.5 earns the Network Testing Labs World Class Award for best enterprise level network monitor.

We regret overlooking Entuity 12.5 when we reviewed enterprise-level network monitoring products for Network World magazine earlier this year. We’d hoped that BMC, which resells Entuity, would have submitted it for review. However, BMC demurred. We thus missed an opportunity to evaluate and discuss Entuity.

We’ll remedy that in this review.

The ideal network management accurately discovers devices, computers and applications on the network. It works on networks of any size. It uses computing resources frugally. It can work within the framework of a global directory (LDAP, for example). It graphically depicts the entire network, subsets of the network and individual devices. It monitors the status and health of every device or computer on the network. It can glean its data from a variety of sources, including agents and SNMP-enabled devices. It works as well with IPv6 as it does with IPv4. It can accept and use sophisticated, complex descriptions of thresholds. It can send alert notifications via email, pager or text message to different individuals or groups depending on the nature of the problem. It can perform root cause analysis to identify a problem device or computer that’s causing a cascade of network error messages. It supports every kind of device on the network. It works within virtual environments and cloud-based environments. It integrates with help desk software and with other monitoring tools. It produces useful, easy-to-understand and timely reports. It’s highly scalable and reliable. And the ideal network management is easy to use.

We found Entuity 12.5’s network object recognition sophisticated and accurate. Its federated architecture was highly scalable and easy to extend across an entire enterprise. The single-console Web browser-based user interface was intuitive, comprehensive and easy to navigate. Furthermore, we could access all Entuity’s functions via a single console – we didn’t need to run different Entuity modules on different computers and learn different skills for each.

Entuity 12.5 earns the Network Testing Labs World Class Award for best enterpriselevel network monitoring product.

Features and more features

Entuity 12.5’s advanced, mature feature set includes:

  • Federated architecture – Scalable, extensible and reliable technology
  • Browser interface – Single console operation from anywhere on the network
  • Auto discovery – Accurate identification and classification of network devices
  • Network inventory and topology data – Useful display of network device details
  • Sophisticated thresholds – Ability to signal alerts based on static and/or dynamic conditions
  • Root cause analysis – Quick, accurate identification of problem causes
  • Integration – Works well with other products, such as BMC’s ProactiveNet Performance Monitoring (BPPM)
  • Integrated NetFlow – Built-in basic NetFlow functionality; optional Integrated Flow Analyzer available
  • Reports – More than 100 predefined reports plus a custom report/graph builder

As we tested, we were impressed by the breadth and scope of Entuity 12.5’s features. We found it to be enterprise-ready in every aspect of its operation.

Finding fault

Entuity 12.5 uses what its developers term True Cause Analytics to locate the primary source (root cause) of a network error that’s triggered a cascade or cluster of connectivity faults. True Cause Analytics continuously collects, digests and evaluates data on the ever-changing myriads of relationships among devices to gain a thorough understanding of the network. To isolate and locate the true cause of a network problem, True Cause Analytics builds and maintains dependency chains of network objects and their linkages. It monitors the changes in object states (i.e., vectors) in each chain, noting and analyzing the differences in these states. Entuity 12.5 then determines the true cause of an event cascade/cluster and alerts the administrator.

Entuity 12.5 correctly identified the root cause of all the network errors we threw at it, and it promptly notified us each time.

Entuity’s monitoring, we found, is comprehensive and thorough. It has a sophisticated threshold facility that can easily and precisely express what’s normal – and what’s not – on your network at specific times of the day. We also noted that Entuity does a superior job of managing a network’s performance by accurately and realistically representing and monitoring Service Level Agreements (SLAs).

Scalability and performance

Entuity 12.5 scales easily across a growing network. Adding an Entuity server to a new subnet extends Entuity’s reach to that subnet or domain, and Entuity’s federated architecture means that the individual Entuity servers communicate with each other when, for example, you tell it to show open (unresolved) events or tell it to produce a report.

We found that each Entuity server used less than 5% of our network’s bandwidth (in some cases, far less) to monitor each subnet, even when we taxed Entuity by causing multiple concurrent slowdowns and outages for it to detect. Impressively, Entuity 12.5 also used its server computer’s resources frugally, which allowed us to install other applications on that same server. We saw no degradation in performance when, for instance, we additionally used the Entuity server as a file server, Exchange server or Web server.

Ease of Use

Via its Web browser interface, Entuity 12.5 has a single console for managing all its functions. You don’t need separate consoles, each with its own user interface and its own idiosyncratic set of skills, to operate Entuity. This simple fact gives Entuity 12.5 a substantial advantage over virtually all other network monitoring products.

The user interface is intuitive, friendly, productive and responsive.

Figure 1 shows the Entuity 12.5 user interface. It has meaningful icons, a grasp-at-firstglance view of network objects and pop-up windows for object-specific tasks. It strategically uses multi-level drop-down menus and tabs to organize tasks in a way that aligns perfectly with a network administrator’s workflow. Every Entuity operation is within easy reach of just a few mouse clicks.

Figure 2 depicts Entuity’s Component Viewer window.

The Web browser interface uses Java and Ajax (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML), a group of interrelated Web development technologies that programmers use to create highly interactive Web browser-based applications. We were especially delighted to see that Entuity 12.5 comes with the appropriate Java Runtime Environment (JRE). We didn’t have to rely on Microsoft to supply a JRE with Windows Server 2008, on which Entuity runs.

Entuity makes extensive use of the Ajax multipurpose browser-based framework of tools, widgets, controls and methods. Entuity’s interface offers a rich set of widgets that resemble elements of native desktop applications. For example, it has built-in support for keyboard navigation, focus and tab handling and drag & drop.

The Ajax-based Entuity Web browser client and its server component exchange information bi-directionally, with either side initiating the conversation. This communication occurs asynchronously (i.e., in the background), and it’s unrelated to the display and behavior of the current Web page the user sees. Both the Entuity client (the browser window) and the Entuity server update each other in real time.

Figure 1. The Entuity Web browser-based interface.

Figure 2. Entuity’s Component Viewer.

Reports

Entuity 12.5 includes over 100 predefined reports in several categories:

  • Network Activity
  • Administration
  • Availability
  • Branch Office Perspective
  • CIO Perspective
  • Configuration
  • Connectivity and Routing
  • Green Reports (reports which aid Green IT initiatives)
  • Inventory
  • Planning
  • Services
  • Virtualization

Additionally, you can use Entuity’s Report Builder to create a new report definition.

Figure 3 is Entuity 12.5’s report category selection window.

Figure 3. Entuity’s report categories.

The following list shows some of the individual predefined reports.

  • SLA Summary – Service Level Agreement compliance
  • Service Availability – Summary of service availability over time
  • Service Delivery Perspective – Overview of the combined availability of all services
  • Service Event History – Chronologically ordered listing of individual services events
  • Service Inventory – Configuration of individual services and sub-services
  • Application Availability – Details of application reachability
  • Device Reachability – Device reachability status
  • Infrastructure Availability – Details of Infrastructure Device reachability and uptime totals and outages
  • Network Delivery Perspective – Summary of availability for services, applications, servers and infrastructure devices (see Figure 4)
  • Network Delivery Summary – Summary of availability for services, applications, servers and infrastructure devices
  • Outages Report
  • Port Operational States
  • Server Availability – Details of server reachability and uptime totals and outages
  • Uptime Reachability and Reboots – Summary of device uptime, reachability and reboots
  • Hypervisor and Virtual Machine Inventory – Inventory of hypervisors and virtual machines
  • Impact of Virtualization on Access Switches – Switch resource utilization compared to changes in virtual/physical host traffic on switches over time
  • Switch Traffic by Virtual/Physical Mix – Traffic through switches based on the virtual/physical host connections
  • Switches with Connected Hypervisors – Summary of switches and their connected virtualized infrastructure
  • Virtual/Physical Host Traffic Mix Over Time – Daily traffic for connected virtual/physical hosts over time
  • Virtual/Physical Host Traffic Mix by View – Switch traffic for connected virtual/physical hosts listed by view
  • Virtualization Perspective – Daily traffic for connected virtual/physical hosts over time
  • Virtualization Traffic Trends – Trends of switch traffic, resource utilization and connected virtualized infrastructure
  • vSwitch Inventory

Entuity 12.5’s plethora of reports excels at revealing the important information about the network. In our tests, we used these reports to establish baselines, show available and unavailable devices, log device availability histories, produce executive summaries, identify trends and help us spot conditions that could result in future network problems.

We particularly liked the ability, with a few mouse clicks, to group monitored components (such as devices, ports, applications and IP SLA tests) into individual collections (services). For its many service-related reports, Entuity 12.5 then calculated and reported availability (and generated alerts) for each group when service state changes warranted. This was yet another example we found of how Entuity is more flexible and more configurable than most other network monitoring products.

We also appreciated Entuity’s ability to export reports in HTML, PDF, Excel, RTF and comma-separated formats.

Figure 4. Entuity’s Network Delivery Perspective report.

Discovery, inventory and topology

Entuity 12.5 accurately discovered our various subnet components.

Gathering information from ICMP ping operations, SNMP queries and other actions, Entuity 12.5 perfectly enumerated our routers, switches, servers and clients. These included, for example, Red Hat Enterprise servers and 3Com OfficeConnect routers. We gave Entuity’s discovery process ranges of IP addresses to define the network, and, in other tests, imported network definitions. After the initial network scan, Entuity thereafter looked for and catalogued new devices on the network using a schedule we specified.

Entuity focuses more on network infrastructure, including servers and connections, and less on client (end user) machines. However, Entuity 12.5 automatically discovered, displayed, maintained, and made available for host location searching all the client machine connections to the access layer switches.

Entuity 12.5 can monitor a myriad of platforms, including Solaris, HP-UX, SCO, AIX and a wide variety of Linux flavors. It discovers and monitors BlackBerry Servers, Lotus Notes, Oracle and other mission-critical applications.

Using either SNMP v1/v2c or SNMP v3, Entuity identified and monitored such diverse platforms, applications and devices as Banyan Vines, Brocade, Checkpoint, Cisco, Compaq, Dell, H-P, Intermec, Legato, Liebert, NetWare, Nokia, Nortel, Lotus Notes, Omnitronix, Sonic, WebSphere and WebLogic.

Entuity 12.5 worked equally well with both IPv4 and IPv6.

Figure 5 shows Entuity’s network mapping window as well as its Live Status inset window.

Figure 5. The Entuity network topology map with Live Status

Additional Remarks

Not every organization needs the level of network management that Entuity offers. If you have a network with a small number of devices in a single location, and if your business would not suffer greatly from prolonged network downtime, you likely don’t need Entuity. Similarly, Entuity may be the wrong choice for those looking for just application performance monitoring or for those who just want to monitor telco-specific equipment.

Entuity 12.5 is without a doubt an enterprise-ready network monitor. It manages multiple locations and diverse divisions. It enables IT organizations to manage their networks proactively. It equips IT staff with automation functionality that lets them spend less time managing the network and more time focusing on other IT initiatives.

Conclusion

Entuity 12.5 is a gem. It’s rich in features, utterly reliable, highly scalable and a breeze to use. Entuity 12.5 recognizes and monitors just about every sort of network component, it offers sophisticated static/dynamic thresholds, it accurately pinpoints root causes and it produces reports – real-time and historical – that are clear, useful and informative. Entuity 12.5 is without a doubt an enterprise-ready network monitor.

We recommend it without reservation. Your IT organization would be well-served by taking a close look at the highly capable Entuity 12.5.

Network Monitoring Report Card

Grade scale is A through F, with F = Failing and A = Perfect

report card

Testbed and Methodology

We evaluated Entuity 12.5’s ability to:

  • discover and enumerate network devices, network links and host computers
  • support a variety of device manufacturers and device types
  • integrate with a global directory
  • graphically depict the network
  • monitor network node status (availability)
  • show network performance and health
  • use complex, sophisticated thresholds to detect problems
  • emit alerts and notifications when network problems occurred
  • integrate with a help desk tool to manage trouble tickets
  • support virtualized environments
  • produce useful, informative reports

In particular, we wanted reports to establish baselines, show available and unavailable devices, log device availability histories, produce executive summaries, identify trends and help us spot conditions that could result in future network problems.

Our test environment consisted of six Cisco-routed Fast Ethernet subnet domains with T1, T3 and DSL links to the Internet. Virtually all our testing took place across 512 kb/s frame relay, T1 and T3 WAN links.

On each subnet, we installed Entuity 12.5 on an HP Proliant computer running Windows 2008 Server. Our lab’s 150 computing platforms included Windows 2000/2003/XP/Vista/Win7, Macintosh 10.x and Red Hat Linux (both server and workstation editions).

The relational databases on the network were Oracle, IBM DB2 Universal Database, Sybase Adaptive Server 12.5 and both Microsoft SQL Server 2008 and 2012. The network also contained two Web servers (Microsoft IIS and Apache), three e-mail servers (Exchange, Notes and Sendmail) and several file servers (Windows 2003 and Windows 2008 servers). Our virtual computing environments consisted of VMware, XenServer and Microsoft Hyper-V.

About the Author

Barry Nance is a networking expert, magazine columnist, book author and application architect. He has more than 29 years experience with IT technologies, methodologies and products. Over the past dozen years, working on behalf of Network Testing Labs, he has evaluated thousands of hardware and software products for ComputerWorld, BYTE Magazine, Government Computer News, PC Magazine, Network Computing, Network World and many other publications. He’s authored thousands of magazine articles as well as popular books such as Introduction to Networking (4th Edition), Network Programming in C and Client/Server LAN Programming.

He’s also designed successful e-commerce Web-based applications, created database and network benchmark tools, written a variety of network diagnostic software utilities and developed a number of special-purpose networking protocols.

You can e-mail him at barryn@erols.com.

About Network Testing Labs

Network Testing Labs performs independent technology research and product evaluations. Its network laboratory connects myriads of types of computers and virtually every kind of network device in an ever-changing variety of ways. Its authors are networking experts who write clearly and plainly about complex technologies and products.

Network Testing Labs’ experts have written hardware and software product reviews, state-of-the-art analyses, feature articles, in-depth technology workshops, cover stories, buyer’s guides and in-depth technology outlooks. Our experts have spoken on a number of topics at Comdex, PC Expo and other venues. In addition, they’ve created industry standard network benchmark software, database benchmark software and network diagnostic utilities.