Network Node Manager for Windows NT

HP OpenView's flagship sails in NT waters

Network Node Manager (NNM) is the flagship of the HP OpenView suite. NNM for Windows NT is a 32-bit port of the UNIX-based implementation that offers all the capabilities of its UNIX counterpart. NNM for NT is not the same as the NNM in HP OpenView for Windows Professional Suite, which HP targeted for workgroup-size networks.

NNM for NT is a powerful network management tool. When you first run NNM, it uses standard discovery utilities and protocols, such as ping, Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP), and Address Resolution Protocol (ARP) to discover all the active nodes in your immediate network. With this information, NNM creates a network map to illustrate your network's topology and contents. Screen 1 shows the map NNM discovered in my test environment.

NNM is not limited to your immediate network. You can point NNM at routers or give it specific network ranges, and NNM will discover information about additional networks or network segments. You can then maintain the information about additional networks as part of your main network map, or you can create and save separate maps.

Besides laying out your network, NNM lets you look inside each node. NNM shows you which computers are Web servers, FTP servers, and more. Because NNM uses SNMP as the basis for its management, it can manage a broad array of networking products: routers, bridges, network printers, intelligent hubs, or any device that supports SNMP. NNM can detect nodes that do not support SNMP, but NNM cannot manage them.

Your level of control over a node depends on the capabilities of the SNMP agent on that node and the operating system (if any) the node is running. For example, if you select an NT node, you can run a variety of standard NT tools (e.g., Event Viewer, Registry Editor, Windows NT Diagnostics) on that node to gain more information. This level of information is not available for Windows 95 or other desktop operating systems.

In the Lab with NNM
NNM installed easily on a 133MHz Pentium with 64MB of RAM. HP designed NNM to run as a network management console, so if you want to track or trap network problems, don't run other applications on the console.

NNM replaces the standard NT SNMP agent software with the HP SNMP agent software, which reports more information to the NNM console than the standard NT SNMP agent software; so, also consider implementing HP's agent on your NT workstations. NNM works with other vendors' SNMP agents, but you will get more information if you use HP's agent.

Watching NNM go through the discovery process was scary. If you've ever played with hacker tools, you know where hackers get some of their ideas. NNM dutifully probes your network, using discovery tools to locate each system on it. Because NNM uses standard open protocols, nothing is fishy about its discovery methodology. Currently, NNM can detect both TCP/IP and IPX systems, but not NetBEUI-only systems.

After NNM discovers all the nodes in your network, it monitors them for changes. For example, if someone turns off a computer, NNM sees that node drop out of the network and changes the color of that computer on the map from green to red, signaling a problem. NNM supports various alert capabilities, so it can also notify you by email.

Most networks consist of multiple segments, and NNM lets you view your network from different perspectives. A high-level view represents your main network segments, or you can look at specific nodes on specific segments. NNM propagates any problem in a network segment up to the high-level view, and you can easily navigate from the high-level view to the detailed view.

When your network has a problem, you simply navigate to the node and use NNM's diagnostic tools to analyze the problem. You can also use NNM as a monitoring tool to view statistics for nodes or network segments, and you can set up traps to alert you when certain conditions arise. For example, NNM can tell you when you exceed a threshold of network errors or reach a specific level of network utilization.

The information you can monitor on a per-node basis depends on the SNMP agent you've installed and the Management Information Base (MIB) available to the agent. The basic SNMP agent included with NT supports only a limited amount of information. As I mentioned, NNM's SNMP agent supports more information; however, to get detailed information out of a node, you must install one or more MIBs on that node.

A MIB is a database that tells an SNMP agent what statistical information and management options are available for a specific type of node or service. For example, MIBs are available for Internet Information Server (IIS) and SQL Server for detailed statistics about their performance. NNM includes several MIBs, and you can get additional MIBs from other vendors, including Microsoft. MIBs are the key to getting detailed, service-specific information via NNM.

NNM is reliable and easy to use, and you can integrate it into any size of network. You can easily combine NNM with other system and network management products, including Microsoft Systems Management Server (SMS) and CA/Unicenter. If you need a rock-solid, SMNP-based network management product, look at NNM.

Network Node Manager for Windows NT
Contact: HP * 800-637-7740
Price: $4995 (for 250 nodes)
System Requirements: Windows NT Workstation or Server, 3.51 or 4.0, 32MB of RAM, Pentium 120MHz processor, 80MB of available hard disk space, 70MB of available paging file space, SVGA display set at 800 X 600
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