Entuity 15.5 Simplifies Big Network Management
Frank Ohlhorst reviews Entuity v15.5, which unifies complex, heterogenous networks with a fully federated network management platform.
It's commonly thought that if you have seen one network management tool, you have seen them all. After all, network management tools are usually little more than instrumentation to report on the health of a given piece of network technology. And therein lies the real problem. Most network management tools are proprietary in nature and often only designed to work with a particular vendor’s subset of products.
What’s more, effective network management requires that not only hardware and network connectivity is monitored and managed, but also the applications and services that run over the network as well. This further complicates the selection of an effective management platform, especially since some platforms are hardware-centric, while others are designed only to look at application performance. Here's where Entuity comes in.
Founded in 1997, when it was headquartered in London, England, Boston-based Entuity has set its sights on the vast network management market segment and is looking to take on competitors such as Fluke Networks Visual TruView, SolarWind’s Network Performance Monitor, Spiceworks Management Suite and Paessler PRTG Network Monitor, as well as other network management players like HP, IBM, Cisco, Microsoft, CA and Network Instruments .
A Closer Look at Entuity 15.5 and SurePath 2.5
Entuity leverages a federated architecture, which enables the product to be scaled with ease. What’s more, an abstraction layer hides most of the complexity of the Entuity management platform while a common presentation layer offers simple-to-understand controls, icons, and tasks, regardless of the complexity of the network device being managed.
The fully instrumented, browser-based primary console directly integrates all of the product's functionality, enabling any task, chore, report or discovery to be done from a single pane of glass.
The core code runs on a virtual or physical server called the Entuity server, which makes setup rather easy. The company provides ISO images of the Entuity Server to be installed on a virtual machine, creating a virtual network management appliance. Little additional setup is needed to get started, other than setting the prerequisite IP addresses, configuring basic security and running a network discovery. All steps are fully guided using a wizard-like methodology to keep things simple for even neophyte network managers. This ease of configuration, deployment, and use set Entuity apart from its competitors.
Once installed and configured, the product is able to perform an auto discovery across the network and then build a database of all detected devices, applications and services running on the network. Since networks are rarely static, auto discovery runs continually background, detecting device, application and service changes, additions or deletions. Changes to the network are revealed with just a few mouse clicks if they require any intervention.
Hands-on with Entuity v15.5 and SurePath v2.5
Together, Entuity and SurePath make a productive duo, helping administrators head off problems before they impact operations, troubleshoot existing issues more rapidly, and, most importantly answer the network question of “what if?”—in other words, how changes will impact network operations or how future upgrades should be made.
That journey to productivity begins with the product's main console. The dashboard offers insight into operations, highlights the severity of events, and provides administrators with a holistic view of network operations. Users can quickly drill down into any element, and an easy-to-navigate menu provides quick access to the product's full spectrum of functionality.
Instantaneous online reporting is one of the core capabilities of the product. With just a few mouse clicks, users can delve into the most esoteric elements of functionality to expose trends, problems and normal operations. That in turn provides snapshot views and historical views of network events for further investigation. This comes in handy for solving poorly defined network or application performance issues.
Entuity also offers other tools that can enhance the detective work of network troubleshooting and diagnostics. One of these tools is the ability to create scenarios that leverage user defined polling. In other words, the polling process can be executed based upon the requirements of the administrator, to make sure device information is captured appropriately.
Case in point is Entuity's perspectives and insight reporting, which offers a more in-depth view of activity, performance and events that incorporates ML (Machine Learning) heuristics to establish normal usageand baseline information so that anomalies can be detected and potential problems forestalled.
For example, the “Virtualization Perspective (TM)” provides insight into how traffic is directed to VMs, as opposed to overall network traffic. That makes it much easier to judge bandwidth constraints around applications hosted on VMs, which in turn makes it much easier to figure out how to segment the network to improve VM performance without impacting non-VM access.
Naturally, illustratable perspectives can be a powerful tool for getting networking projects funded or justifying expenses on equipment, personnel or services. With that in mind, Entuity has created a “CIO Perspective” report, which summarizes the condition of the network, broken down by critical services, an invaluable tool for most any network manager.
What’s more, the product offers integration with both BMC and Oracle management platforms, making it a valuable enabler in environments running those platforms. Entuity’s ability to share information with external platforms and to gather additional data creates a more comprehensive management suite. As those complex management platforms grow, Entuity has the ability to keep pace, thanks to a robust architecture that can scale the solution across multiple servers.
Of course there’s more to Entuity than perspectives and analytics. There is also the function of management, where network administrators are able to flex their connectivity muscles.
For example, network managers need to know how the devices that comprise their network are functioning. They need to know how those devices have functioned in the past and how they currently function; they also need to understand how those devices will function in the future. Reports such as “Device Metrics” provide the fodder for those assessments. This and many other reports are fully customizable to provide administrators with the information they need to deal with the situation at hand.
As mentioned before, event management is a critical capability of any network management platform. Entuity incorporates a fully configurable rules-based event management system (EMS).
Entuity, especially when paired with SurePath, provides the big picture of the network without discarding what may be valuable minutia, allowing administrators to monitor, investigate and react to any network (or application) connectivity issues. Administrators are able to customize reports, create new reports, drill down into data sets and perform many other tasks that may make the product indispensable for those managing complex, heterogeneous networks that feature critical applications, virtual machines and many other aspects of the modern network infrastructure.
Entuity also incorporates a forward-looking approach, one that should be able to address the changing landscape of networking. For example, the product incorporates support supports both AWS and UCS, allowing it to extend to hybrid cloud implementations and include the various elements that the cloud can introduce into a heterogeneous network. Further futureproofing is supported by Entuity’s incorporation of a RESTful API, a feature that delivers a modern approach to performing administrative tasks. Organizations with large networks will find the feature very useful, since it can automate regular maintenance tasks, such as adding devices and executing workflows.
Entuity brings actionable knowledge into the network manager's sphere of influence, making it easier to head off potential problems before they manifest themselves as service interruptions. What's more, Entuity gives network managers the ability to observe, normalize and predict network traffic, making it a good tool for those needing to keep applications up and running, while addressing challenges of scale.
Frank is an award-winning technology journalist, professional speaker and IT business consultant with over 25 years of experience in the technology arena. He has written for several leading technology publications, including ComputerWorld, TechTarget, PCWorld, ExtremeTech, Tom's Hardware and business publications, including Entrepreneur, Forbes and BNET. Ohlhorst was also the Executive Technology Editor for Ziff Davis Enterprise's eWeek and formerly the director of the CRN Test Center.