CrossNodes Product Briefing: Networking Management Software

In the hope of making an established market sexier for the “webbies”, or perhaps to kick-start tech stocks on Wall Street, don’t look now but there’s a new buzzword in town — eBusiness Infrastructure Management. All you savvy veteran network and systems managers should feel free to laugh out loud — we did.

It doesn’t take an Einstein to figure out it’s just a new buzzword for network and systems management. The line between classic network management software and high-end systems management software has really blurred in the past few years. So much so that you can start with fundamental LAN management and grow all the way to multi-site Enterprise management without changing vendors.

Your definition of network management and systems management software depends on how long you’ve been around IT and the organization you’re in. These days the terms are often used synonymously but they started life with differences. Systems Management has been around from the days of minis and mainframes and grew out of a need to centrally manage computers in the data center. Network management software came about in the mid 1980’s as the proliferation of microprocessor-based Local Area Networks (LANs) of PCs and servers took off. By the mid 1990’s, the line between the two types of products began to blur as legacy systems were supplanted by workgroups, LANs, client/server architectures, and WANs. Now they’re our eBusiness infrastructure!

Traditional Network Management software’s purpose is to monitor a network’s components usually to diagnose and correct problems. Functions usually include:

  • Inventory/device management
  • Load balancing
  • Network mapping
  • Reporting
  • Software Metering
  • Remote Control


System Management software, on the other hand, is now to centralize the management of computer systems in the enterprise. Depending on the way IT is set up in an organization that may include network management or come under network management.

System management suites offer modules that cover network management and some or all of the following:

  • Capacity planning
  • Configuration management
  • Performance management
  • Security management
  • Software management (including distribution and version control)
  • Multi-platform management


Historically, systems management would include systems software but NOT applications. Blurring lines even farther, some vendors now have application, service, storage and web management offerings under their traditional systems management product lines.

User growth was usually the catalyst for a centralized systems management solution. As users began to number in the hundreds or more, a systems management solution allowed corporations to maximize their IT dollar more efficiently. Where larger organizations use to be the target for these solutions, the web has brought the need systems management solutions into much smaller organizations.

Just before we posted this briefing, Computer Associates (CA) announced it’s plans to break apart Unicenter TNG, one of the Grand Daddies of all network and systems management solutions, into individually priced modules. Why? CA wants to attract smaller business to the product. With the enterprise systems management software market expected to grow from $13 billion this year to $25 billion by 2005, CA targeted new install base is good timing.

Either way, these software products allow network and / or systems managers to conduct critical management business without leaving their desk. It also allows them to maximize staffing assets. For now that may be the real beauty of these suites, according to one study, every time a systems technician appears at a desk it costs the company, on average, $300.00.

We’ve provided a short list in this Product Briefing of what’s currently available on the market. Included are solutions geared to smaller networks through products capable of managing multi-location, multi-site Enterprises and most of the management tasks that go with them.

Network/Systems Management Suites

Vendor:  3Com Corporation
Product: 3Com Network Supervisor
Target Environment: Network
Vendor:  BMC Software
Product: Patrol Products
Target Environment: Network through enterprise
Vendor:  Cisco Systems
Product: CiscoWorks2000 
Target Environment: Network through enterprise
Vendor:  Computer Associates
Product: Unicenter Network and Systems Management
Target Environment: Network through enterprise
Vendor:  Digital Networks
Product: clearVISN
Target Environment: Network through enterprise
Vendor:  Hewlett-Packard
Product: OpenView Products
Target Environment: Network through enterprise
Vendor:  Intel Corporation
Product: LANDesk Poducts
Target Environment: Network through enterprise
Vendor:  Microsoft Corporation
Product: Systems Management Server
Target Environment: Network through enterprise
Vendor:  Novell
Product: ManageWise
Target Environment: Network
Product: ZenWorks
Target Environment: Network through enterprise
Vendor:  Quick Eagle Networks
Product: i-Net Management Suite
Target Environment: Network
Vendor:  Tivoli Systems
Product: Management Solutions; NetView
Target Environment: Network through enterprise
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