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Network Monitoring Systems

If you need automatic discovery, ipMonitor and MonitorIT have it. Need help with managing adds, removes and changes in the network? NetCrunch and LANsurveyor provide periodic, schedulable network rediscovery, like much more expensive suites. All the products we tested have the expected status mechanisms, including notifications through e-mail, color statuses, triggered executables and audio cues. MonitorIT and ipMonitor did the best job keeping us informed.

To help organize large networks, some entries, including MonitorIT and Big Brother, let us group devices by service, geography and type. Engineer's Toolset, ipMonitor and LANsurveyor provide even more advanced features, such as grouping monitored devices dynamically based on a parameter (IP address, for instance).

Incredibly, LANsurveyor also performs Layer 2 mapping and IDS scanning. This helped it earn our Editor's Choice award. Coming in a close second was SolarWinds.Net's SolarWinds Engineer's Edition Toolset: It monitors, it configures, it calculates IP address, it does TFTP ... if we asked, it probably would have mowed the lawn. Honorable mention goes to ipMonitor, which provides extensive systems management from a logically designed, snappy Web interface. Our analysis of our nine entries follows. Note that all pricing is MSRP.

Neon got a good score for pricing (see Report Card) due in part to its included support and upgrades, and because at just less than $800, LANsurveyor's systems agents support software distribution and IDS scanning. If you don't need IDS scanning--a $295 option--you can get LANsurveyor for less than $500, with 20 systems agents included. Great value.

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