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Middle Managers

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We invited BMC Software, Castle Rock Computing, Computer Associates International, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Ipswitch, Linmore, NuLink, RedPoint, SolarWinds.Net, Visualware and Wild Packets to participate in our tests. NuLink never responded; products from BMC, IBM, Linmore and RedPoint couldn't squeeze under the $10,000 ceiling; and Visualware's and Wild Packets' offerings were not ready in time for testing.

That left Castle Rock, CA, HP, Ipswitch and SolarWinds.Net. We gathered the software in our Syracuse University Real-World Labs®, took over the network and put these products to work.

Foundation for Growth

Our testing didn't require vendors to scale or support third-party databases or distributed processing, functions that would be de rigueur for high-end network management. However, most of the products offer some features that would let them grow with your network.

We limited discovery to a set of important nodes--primarily routers and switches--though we did include servers and a few clients as part of a test application (a multitiered Web app) we monitored. All the products easily kept tabs on these 1,000 interfaces--in some cases they began by discovering more than we wanted, sometimes even when we didn't ask them to. In addition, all the entries except Ipswitch's WhatsUp Gold have distributed-polling capabilities that let them poll a plethora of devices while going easy on WAN bandwidth.

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