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6 Best OpManager Alternatives For Network Monitoring and Management

The ManageEngine OpManager is a rather popular network monitoring and management tool. There is no denying that. But as good as it may be, perhaps you’re looking for some alternatives. Whether you’ve been using it for a while and have reached the limits of its capacities or you’ve heard of it but want to know what alternatives exist before selecting a tool, there’s going to be something for you in this post. You see, we’re about to review the very best OpManager alternatives for network monitoring and management. We’ve assembled a list of the best options and our reviews will more than likely help you figure out which one is the best match for your specific needs.

Before we can have an in-depth look at some of the best alternatives, we’ll have a deeper look at the ManageEngine OpManager. If we’re to evaluate alternatives, we need to know what we’re comparing them to, don’t we? Then, since the primary focus of the OpManager tool is SNMP monitoring and management, we’ll have a quick look at that protocol. Without going too technical, we’ll explain what it is, how it works, and why we need it. Our goal is not to make you SNMP experts but to give you enough background information to fully appreciate our upcoming reviews. And talking about reviews, this is what we have for you next. We’ll examine each of our recommended alternatives’ best and most interesting features.

About The ManageEngine OpManager

The ManageEngine OpManager is a powerful all-in-one network monitoring tool which offers comprehensive network monitoring capabilities that help you keep an eye on network performance, detect network faults in real time, troubleshoot errors, and prevent downtime. The tool supports various environments from multiple vendors and can scale to fit your network, regardless of its size. It will let you monitor your devices and network and gain complete visibility and control over your entire network infrastructure. Installation and setup of this product are both quick and easy. You can get it running in under two minutes. It requires no complex installation procedures and comes bundled with built-in databases and web servers.

ManageEngine OpManager Dashboard

The ManageEngine OpManager constantly monitors network devices’ performance in real time via live dashboards and graphs. It examines several critical operational metrics such as packet loss, errors and discards, etc. It will also monitor performance metrics like availability, CPU, disk space, and memory utilization across both physical and virtual servers.

The tool can help you detect, identify, and troubleshoot network issues with threshold-based alerts. You can easily set multiple thresholds for every performance metric and get notifications. But while alerting is important, reporting is just as much and it is another area where this tool shines. Intelligent reports will let you get detailed insights on network performance. There are more than 100 built-in reports. You can customize, schedule and export these out-of-the-box reports as needed.

SNMP Monitoring Explained

Despite the fact that the “S” in SNMP stands for simple, it is relatively complex. You don’t have to be an expert and know all about it to use it, though, just like you don’t have to be an auto mechanic to drive a car. It is, however, preferable to have at least some idea of how it works.

At its base, SNMP is a communication protocol that specifies how an SNMP management system car read and write operational parameters in remote devices. The parameters are referred to as OIDs—for Object Identifiers. Some of the interesting OIDs, from a monitoring standpoint, are those that contain critical metrics such as CPU load or disk usage, for example. And when monitoring networking devices, two OIDs are of particular interest, the bytes out and the bytes in counters associated with each interface which are automatically incremented as data is output or input.

Dating back to a time when IT security was not an issue, SNMP only has minimal security. An SNMP manager connecting to an SNMP-enabled device will transmit a “community string” with its request. If the string matches that configured in the equipment, the request will be carried out. Devices typically have two community strings configured, one for read-only OIDs and one for modifiable ones.

A Concrete Example

Here’s how most monitoring systems use SNMP to monitor bandwidth utilization. They periodically read the bytes in and out counters of a networking device’s interfaces at know intervals, with five minutes being a typical value. They then store the fetched values in some sort of database or disk file.

The rest of the process is simple maths. The monitoring system subtracts the previous counter value from the current one to get the number of bytes transmitted or received in five minutes. It can then multiply that number by eight to get the number of bits and divide it by 300–the number of seconds in five minutes–to get the number of bits per second. This information is typically plotted on a graph showing its evolution in time and stored in a database.

Why Do We Need Monitoring Tools?

There are several reasons why network monitoring tools like the ManageEngine OpManager can be useful. First and foremost, they can help you pinpoint areas of contention. When network circuits become over-utilized, their performance starts degrading. This is definitely something anyone prefers to avoid. By keeping an eye on network bandwidth utilization, monitoring tools give you a chance to detect high utilization—and fix it—before it starts affecting users.

Capacity planning is another major benefit of network monitoring tools. Network circuits—especially long distance WAN connections—are quite expensive and will often have limited bandwidth. While the bandwidth may have been OK when the circuits were first installed, bandwidth will eventually need to be increased. By monitoring the evolution of your network circuit’s bandwidth utilization, you’ll be able to see which ones need to be upgraded and when.

Network monitoring tools are also very useful for troubleshooting poor application performance. When a user complains that some remote application has slowed down, looking at the network utilization will give you a pretty good idea whether or not the problem is caused by network congestion. If you see low network utilization, you can likely concentrate your troubleshooting efforts elsewhere.

The Best OpManager Alternatives

Let’s have a look at some of the best ManageEngine OpManager alternatives we could find. Some of our top tools are paid ones and others are free tools. All of our picks are excellent products and choosing one over the other should, more than anything, largely be a matter of personal preference. And correspondence between the product’s feature set and your specific needs. With most paid products offering a free trial, try as many as you like and take the opportunity to see first-hand if they suit your needs.

1- SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor (FREE TRIAL)

SolarWinds is one of the best-known vendors of network and system administration tools. It is famous for its many excellent network administration tools. Among the most famous SolarWinds products are the NetFlow Traffic Analyzer and the Server and Application monitor. SolarWinds is also recognized for making a handful of excellent free tools, each addressing a specific need of network and system administrator. The Advanced Subnet Calculator and Kiwi Syslog Server are two excellent examples of those free tools.

SolarWinds’ flagship product is called Network Performance Monitor, or NPM. It is a full-featured network monitoring solution with great functionality. The SolarWinds NPM polls any enabled device using the SNMP protocol to read their operational metrics and interface counters. It stores the results in an SQL database and uses the polled data to build graphs showing each WAN circuit’s usage.

SolarWinds NPM Summary

The SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor boasts a user-friendly GUI. With it, adding a device is as simple as specifying its IP address or hostname and SNMP community string. The tool then queries the device, lists all the SNMP parameters that are available, and allows you to pick those you want to monitor and display on your graphs.

Prices for the SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor start at $2 995 and vary according to the number of devices to monitor. A detailed quote can be obtained by contacting the SolarWinds sales team. If you’d want to try the product before purchasing it, a free 30-day trial is available, as it is for most SolarWinds products.

2- PRTG Network Monitor

The PRTG Network Monitor from Paessler AG is an agentless network monitoring system. Paessler claims that the PRTG Network Monitor can be set up in a couple of minutes. Our experience shows that it can take a bit more than that but that it is still very easy and quick, thanks to an auto-discovery feature that will scan your network, find devices, and automatically add them. The tool uses a combination of Ping, SNMP, WMI, NetFlow, jFlow, sFlow, but can also communicate via DICOM or the RESTful API.

PRTG Screenshot

One of the strengths of the PRTG Network Monitor is its sensor-based architecture. You can think of sensors as add-ons to the product except that they are already included and don’t need to be added. There are add-ons for virtually anything. For example, there are HTTP, SMTP/POP3 (e-mail) application sensors. There are also hardware-specific sensors for switches, routers, and servers. In all, there are over 200 different predefined sensors that retrieve statistics such as response time, processor, memory, database information, temperature or system status from the monitored devices.

The PRTG Network Monitor offers a selection of user interfaces. The primary one is an Ajax-based web interface. There’s also a Windows enterprise console as well as mobile apps for Android and iOS. One nice feature of the mobile apps is that they can use push notification of any alerts triggered from PRTG. More standard SMS or email notifications are also available. Although the server only runs on Windows, it can be administered from any device with an Ajax-compatible browser.

The PRTG Network Monitor is offered in two versions. There’s a free version which is full-featured but will limit your monitoring ability to 100 sensors. Note that each monitored parameter counts as one sensor and, for example, monitor 24 interfaces on a network switch will use up 24 sensors. If you need more than 100 sensors, you must purchase a license. Their prices start at $1 600 for 500 sensors. You can also get a free, sensor-unlimited and full-featured 30-day trial version.

3- WhatsUp Gold

WhatsUp Gold is another well-known name in the field of monitoring tools. It used to be an up-or-down type of monitoring tool but it has evolved into a full management tool with proactive monitoring for network traffic, applications, virtual environments, and device configurations. Today, this tool has almost everything you can expect from an enterprise-grade monitoring tool, and it’s all available via a very intuitive GUI.

WhatsUp Gold features an auto-discovery engine that will find your devices and add them to the monitoring console. It will not only find your networking equipment but also physical servers, virtual servers, cloud servers, and applications. There’s even a map view that’s clickable for more information on each device.

WhatsUp Gold Dashboard

WhatsUp Gold also has an excellent alerting system to let you know about problems before users notice them. Through the tool’s Alert Center, you can opt to use predefined thresholds or set them as per your specific needs. The alerting system lets you create action policies which define what happens when a monitored parameter changes state. Alerts can be transmitted by email, SMS, Slack, or IFTTT posts. The system can also restart services and trigger web alarms.

While a free edition of WhatsUp Gold is available, it is limited to monitoring a maximum of five devices. For more devices, paid licenses are available in three levels of increasing functionality with a pricing structure based on the number of devices to be monitored. There’s also a free, full-featured trial version that you can use for a limited time.

4- Cacti

Cacti is a free and open-source complete network monitoring tool. Its main components are a fast poller, advanced graph templates, and multiple data acquisition methods. This tool also features user access control built right into the product. The product boasts an easy to use albeit antique-looking web-based user interface. Another advantage of the tool is how it scales very well from the smallest single device installations up to complex networks with many different WAN sites.

Cacti Screenshot

Cacti uses SNMP to fetch data and stores it in a SQL database. It is primarily written in PHP and can be modified to suit your needs. One of the product’s strongest features is its use of templates. There are built-in templates, for example, for Cisco routers that already includes most of the elements you might want to monitor on such a device. But there are not only device templates; there are also graph templates. Together, templates make configuring the software much easier. You can also build your own customized templates if suitable ones don’t already exist. Also, many device-specific templates can be downloaded from device vendor’s websites and many community-driven Cacti forums offer them for download.

5- Observium

Observium is a low-maintenance monitoring platform with auto-discovery. It supports a wide range of device types, platforms and operating systems including, among others, Cisco, Windows, Linux, HP, Juniper, Dell, FreeBSD, Brocade, Netscaler, NetApp. I doubt that you can find a WAN router that’s not supported. Observium’s primary focus is providing a beautiful, intuitive, and simple yet powerful user interface showing the health and status of your network.

Observium Screenshot

Observium has more than just bandwidth monitoring. For instance, there’s an accounting system that will measure total monthly bandwidth usage in the 95th percentile or in total transferred bytes. It also has an alerting function with user-defined thresholds. Furthermore, Observium integrates with other systems and can pull their information and display it within its interface.

Observium users love how easy it is to set up and how it almost configures itself. Although there doesn’t appear to be a download section on Observium’s website, there are detailed installation instructions for several Linux distributions that do include the links to get the right package for each distribution. The instructions are very detailed and installing the software should be easy.

The product is available in two versions. There’s the Observium Community is which available for free to everyone. This version receives updates and new features twice a year. There’s also Observium Professional which has additional features and comes with daily updates. Both versions only run on Linux.

6- Zabbix

Zabbix is another free and open-source product which has a highly professional look and feel, much like you’d expect from a commercial product. But the good looks of its user interface is not its only asset. The product also boasts an impressive feature set. It will monitor most network-attached devices in addition to networking equipment. It would be a good option if you want to monitor servers in addition to your WAN circuit’s bandwidth.

Zabbix Dashboard

Zabbix uses SNMP as well as the Intelligent Platform Monitoring Interface (IMPI) for monitoring devices. You can use the software to monitor bandwidth, device CPU and memory utilization, general device health as well as configuration changes. As you can see, it does way more than simple WAN monitoring. The product also features an impressive and completely customizable alerting system. It will not only send email or SMS alerts but also run local scripts which could be used to fix some issues automatically.

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