Product Reviews

A Few of My Favorite Things: BMC Patrol

Compaq knows a thing or two about troubleshooting large networks. Here are some of the utilities and programs it uses most and likes best for Windows 2000.

BMC Patrol is primarily an enterprise monitoring architecture, so its main job is keeping an eye out for OS or application failures. But that’s not all it does—several features make it useful for network troubleshooting and diagnostics. Let’s discuss a few.

  • Centralized console view—Patrol’s centralized graphical console is great for troubleshooting, as all your hosts and applications are available at your fingertips (see the figure).
  • Large selection of application and OS metrics out of the box—Nearly 2,000 metrics can be monitored for Win2K alone, enabling very detailed diagnostics.
  • Available online historical data for metrics—If an alert’s received showing that the C: drive on a server is full, you can pull up a graph to show when it filled up. You can then guess the approximate time stamp of the offending file and locate it.
  • Creation of multi-line graphs—Win2K DNS servers suffer from occasional poor response time. Patrol allows you to overlay DNS response-time data with CPU utilization and disk busy rates to look for simple CPU or I/O bound patterns. You can even compare it with DNS query rates, WINS update rates, dynamic update rates and so on. Up to 32 graphs can be overlaid, making it a good interface for spotting patterns.
  • Data annotations for key metrics—Suppose the CPU chart shows 100 percent utilization for an Exchange server from 2 to 3 p.m. An operator can drill down at the start of this activity and get a listing of the top 10 processes by CPU usage. This can be very handy when troubleshooting Win2K problems, since rogue processes are often a cause or symptom of problems.
  • Service and process monitoring—The Patrol service module pinpoints automatic services that have failed and also tracks CPU and memory usage. You can use the NT process module to track individual processes and troubleshoot memory leaks and CPU usage.
  • Compaq Insight Manager (CIM) integration—Perhaps the problem lies in the hardware. Patrol CIM integration finds hardware failures in the same diagnostic interface, so you don’t waste time looking for OS problems that don’t exist.
BMC Patrol
Patrol’s alerts, like the one shown here, warn you about problems affecting your network. (Click image to view larger version.)

Patrol has much information available online for the experienced user; while the online help can be quite informative, it still needs improvement for some of the more obscure metrics.

About the Author

Alistair Limb is a technical solutions architect working for Compaq Global Services in the UK. He’s spent the last six years working on enterprise monitoring solutions.

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Reader Comments:

Wed, Aug 6, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous

BMC Patrol Exprezz sucks, after upgrading we have to re-create all the configuration from the web portal

BMC Remedy sucks, after upgrading the cmdb screw up

Tue, May 23, 2006 Anonymous Anonymous

BMC Patrol/Impact Explorer can be nice, if/when it works. When it works, you can keep an eye on a lot of aspects of the enterprise. However, when it works, is sporadic at best. The Impact Explorer client is garbage. In order to get it to run reliably, if you have a distributed monitoring team, is to have a terminal server setup in the same location as the database. And then have your team connect into the terminal server and run the Impact Explorer application from there. Getting the client to remain working on a desktop at a remote site is a nightmare. Frequent disconnects, frequent xml errors, very slow performance (at an enterprise lvl with 5000+ servers). If you were looking for something to monitor less than 200 systems, this software might work. Anything larger, opt for a more robust solution.

Tue, May 10, 2005 Anonymous Anonymous

You must take the time to configure this tool. Once you learn it however the things it can and will do for you are wonderfull! If you plan to place it on a server and forget then this might not be the product for you. If you want to save time in the long run and let this product do what it is designed to do then BUY IT NOW! I have worked witht the product for 5 years it saves my company time and money.

Thu, Dec 16, 2004 Jonathan K. Redmond

Very kewl article Mr. Limb

Fri, Aug 20, 2004 Anonymous Anonymous

For my case, I have used Patrol for about 5 years, and I like it. This article only covers tiny little bit of Patrol, like the title suggested, "A Few Things". Many people may confuse themselves with BMC Patrol and many other solutions that BMC provides. If you are looking for "Enterprise Event Management" solution, BMC Enterprise Manager is the tool. The best thing I like BMC Patrol is that it provide a platform and a scripting tool that allows you to do almost any administration work you want. For a company that has mixed environment, or many flavour of OS, Patrol is a really cool tool. Patrol Classic Console is a good trouble shooting tool you want to use. In deed, we run into problem once in a while, but anyone can give an example that any software is problem free?! Look at how many "patches" or "hotfixes" you have to deal with for any OS or famous application!

Tue, Mar 9, 2004 Stephan Germany

My experience is that pure Windows monitoring works fine, we haven't had any resource exhaustion problems. We experienced problems only when we loaded lots of so called knowledge modules monitoring many application components. It caused us a headache as there was no sign what might caused occasional failures. IMHO Patrol is very handy, but it's stable only on not too complex systems.

Fri, Jan 23, 2004 Ricardo Soares Portugal

How can you monitor problems with something that creates them??? Sometimes my servers just stop responding because Patrol is consuming 50%+ of the processor and 200MB+ of RAM. If you want to live with this, then go ahead and buy it.

Wed, Jan 14, 2004 Anonymous Anonymous

BMC sucks big-time.

It's a real administrative piece of work that needs so much attention just to run correctly that you can stop doing your normal work. So unless you can put someone deticated on BMC just look for something else.

Thu, Jul 10, 2003 Scott B Michigan

I do not like BMC. IPX is 'still' required for use on a NetWare server. Our NT Support group frequently complains about it. They've called it a few colorful names.

Wed, Jul 2, 2003 Jay M Anonymous

I'd recommend BMC PATROL for small to medium sized environments (upto 200 servers) and using a good design setup. For larger enterprise monitoring and management I would point you to a dedicated Enterprise view like Patrol EnterPrise Manager or Micrmuses Netcool Omnibus technology. Patrol is not hard to administrate and if you know what your doing.....the benefits it provides interms of central information, monitoring and management platform far outway any negative experience people have. The review above doesnt go far enough to talk about BMC Patrol.

Thu, Jun 26, 2003 Peter Williams Anonymous

This tool looks very good, where can I get it

Tue, Jan 7, 2003 Simple Simon Huge Enterprise

This thing is fine for asmall environment, but when you run a system of over 200 servers forget it. Its junkware!!!

Wed, Nov 13, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous

BMC Patrol is a piece of crap. It is no where nearly suited for enterprise monitoring. The product requires extensive administration to implement and maintain. Do not recommend.

Tue, Jan 1, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous

I personally prefer compaq's service

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