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Rolling Review: NetIQ Aims to Balance Simplicity, Flexibility

The Upshot

NetIQ AppManager seeks to monitor, report on and diagnose application problems common to enterprise networks. With AppManager, NetIQ is looking to make application performance management an efficient process by balancing ease of installation and use, for fast ROI, with the ability to customize the product to keep pace with change.
AppManager was introduced in 1996 and is one of the first Windows application agents. NetIQ has stayed true to form and expanded on what it does best with AppManager 7. The product competes in the APM space against appliance-based and agentless synthetic transaction systems.
While NetIQ touts the ease of deploying, maintaining and configuring agents in AppManager 7, organizations with multiple domains may have some hiccups. We did see advances in the product's visualization capabilities, most notably Service Maps, but IT will need to invest possibly considerable time to manually build and maintain these.

NetIQ AppManager

NetIQ has been in the APM game longer than most, but it's being challenged by a huge roster of rival application performance management vendors. And no wonder: This is a growth market, according to Forrester, which expects vendors to net almost $2.10 billion by year's end. Seems there's no time to wait on sluggish apps.

One challenge for new and established vendors alike is keeping their APM products easy to use in the face of increasing network complexity, while still providing for customization. NetIQ's AppManager 7, part of the NetIQ AppManager Suite, uses agents to provide monitoring, reporting, analysis, diagnostics and resolution of common application issues and mostly succeeds on the ease-of-use front, as we found in our testing. To further enhance the product's appeal, NetIQ offers optional modules geared toward monitoring such technologies as IBM WebSphere, Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle and VMware ESX Server. We also evaluated NetIQ's Analysis Center, using it to analyze collected performance data and run complex reports.

Invisible Touch

This article is the fourth 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.

NetIQ advertises a zero-touch capability that allows administrators to deploy agents from a central console. For this feature to work, however, the management server needed to be in an Active Directory domain with the client systems. Unfortunately for us, our testbed is distributed (see RR kickoff for details), so we had to install our agents manually.

We were most interested in trying out AppManager's ability to monitor end-to-end transactions, and we were not disappointed. We configured AppManager to monitor a multitiered application, end-to-end, using a combination of synthetic transactions and an agent that looked at the performance of both the overall system and individual applications, such as Web servers and databases. NetIQ's Knowledge Scripts are the main technology behind AppManager monitoring. Knowledge Scripts are VB or PERL scripts that contain the instructions for the agent to gather the data being requested. They ship with a number of preset thresholds to report performance problems and faults. Thresholds can be adjusted to suit your needs, but we found a lot to get started with right out-of-the-box.

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