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In addition to BMC's Knowledge Module information, we collected SNMP data from Hewlett-Packard Co.'s HP OpenView NNM, IBM's Tivoli NetView, and directly from SNMP-capable network devices. This additional data provided network and system performance and topology information and let us determine how well each MoM integrated with third-party data sources.

We based our grading on five factors: event management, usability, architecture and the pricing for two different scenarios (see the MoMs report card).

MoMs use event management to reduce, focus and make sense of the sea of reports that networked applications create. Event management encompasses simple tasks, such as filtering and "de-duplication" (simply tallying reports of repeated events); moderately complex ones, such as fault suppression (essentially ignoring downstream events); and truly sophisticated tasks that give these events meaning. Normalizing, or simplifying the event description, for example, lets an operator read the description and get a clue as to what has happened.

The most difficult task, meanwhile, is to correlate events to determine the problem's root cause. Of all the products, Smarts InCharge handled correlation best. This product, with its root-cause suggestions, provides a percentage of assuredness for each possibility and helps get to the real cause better than any other MoM we tested.

We considered the products' usability as well. In the simplest terms, MoMs must be intuitive enough to lessen learning difficulty but offer enough flexibility to get out of the way of an experienced operator by offering customizable, predictable navigation and tools.

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