The good news is that there are plenty of options out there below the $10,000 point that can help organizations monitor their environments efficiently. And providers of lower-cost choices often will let customers try out full or limited versions of their products to see if these tools meet their needs.
The seven items listed here, in alphabetical order, are our favorites.
BelManage is a configuration management database for systems. Its WAN architecture lets users automate management of desktops, servers, and laptops using a single database and intranet server. Belarc creates a central repository, including software, hardware, and security configurations. With its automated discovery capability, BelManage can help companies record critical information on enterprise-wide systems, but it doesn't track networks.
Price: Base system starts at $5,000
Hobbit Monitor, which is hosted by SourceForge.net, uses extensions to monitor hosts, network services, and Web services, as well as disk utilization, log files, and processes via agents installed on the servers. A central server builds Web pages showing the status of networks and services, with drill-down capability to check on problems. Alerts can be sent via e-mail, SMS messages, or pager alerts. Lack of a commercial version with support could be a deal-killer for many, but Hobbit's worth a look.
The Jira bug- and issue-tracking service desk product can be used in a variety of ways. Its robust reporting capabilities help IT managers track unresolved high-priority issues, issues per customer, and average resolution time. It also handles customized metrics, enabling in-depth management and reporting. For best results, this product should be deployed in companies with IT departments that have some SQL and Web design skills.
Price: $4,800 for enterprise license
SolarWinds' Orion NPM
The Orion NPM management suite monitors the health of network devices, servers, and applications, and gives you real-time in-depth network performance metrics for routers, switches, servers, and other SNMP-enabled devices. Orion also provides a customizable Web interface that supports multiple views by user and department, as well as map views of your network.
Price: Starts at $2,475