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Rolling Review: NetQoS SuperAgent

The Upshot

NetQoS' SuperAgent helps IT monitor end-to-end performance and report on how well the network is delivering services to end users. SuperAgent focuses on providing the best overall view of what's happening on the network by baselining and analyzing all components of complex applications at the packet level.
Historically, network analyzers were used to troubleshoot discrete problems and isolate potential bottlenecks. For this Rolling Review, we're focusing on a new generation of analyzer that seeks to support complex applications using the same underlying technology, while reducing the overall complexity of managing a holistic APM system. This approach will be attractive for organizations looking for appliances that work without agents; see more detail on this product category at the Kickoff for this Rolling Review.
SuperAgent is an easy-to-use application performance appliance that helps IT quickly pinpoint potential problems. However, because it does not have its own SNMP agents, SuperAgent can't pinpoint issues arising from a problematic application process or from factors outside your network. For this level of detail you'll likely need a traditional software-based system that includes agents.

NetQoS SuperAgent

In the second installment of our application performance management Rolling Review, we take a look at NetQoS' SuperAgent appliance, which measures application performance by monitoring TCP packets as they travel through the network. SuperAgent, which is part of the NetQoS Performance Center suite, promises to clearly show how well the network is delivering services to end users and provide an overall view of what's happening on the network.

We found that SuperAgent varied in how specific and accurate its reports were, depending on the nature of the trouble. If an issue was related to network performance, the appliance was very good at identifying the exact problem. For server performance issues, alerts indicated there was problem; however, without an SNMP agent, it could not provide significant detail. If your monitoring environment includes a critical application that does not support a generic SNMP agent, SuperAgent is not for you.

This article is the second of a series and is part of NWC's Rolling Review of Application Performance Management . Click on that link to go to the Rolling Reviews home page to read all the features and reviews now.

The real value of this tool emerges when in the hands of a network engineer working to troubleshoot a performance issue within the network. The appliance allowed us to drill down and get very discrete packet-level performance data. While it does support executive views, this is not the product's strength: SuperAgent's high-level views quickly reach a level of detail that will leave most CIOs and IT generalists scratching their heads.

In all but the simplest environments, multiple SuperAgent appliances will be required. NetQoS supports as many as five collectors per management console and up to three management consoles per Performance Center. NetQoS SuperAgent licenses are sold by appliance, not usage. NetQoS told us that each individual appliance can support up to one gigabyte of traffic across the span interface.

List price for the SuperAgent standalone appliance is $38,500. For a distributed setup, a Master Console is $39,500, plus $22,500 for each additional collector. Performance Center is bundled into the price.

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