An Event Monitoring Solution for your Network
Argent Guardian offers reliable, comprehensive and flexible event monitoring.
- By Jim Richards
Ask a dozen people, "What makes an event monitoring package great," and
you may get a dozen answers; but everyone would probably agree that reliable,
comprehensive and flexible event monitoring and notification is a must.
The product must be easy to use, have great built-in reporting tools,
should be designed on a stable platform, and shouldn't cost you your first
born to own.
Welcome to the world of The Argent Guardian. In a world of half-million-dollar
event monitoring solutions like Tivoli and NetIQ, Guardian steps in at
a far lower cost.
Guardian is built on top of the job engine used in the company's Job
Scheduler software. This is what makes it so great. Almost every object
within the program has some sort of calendaring feature built into it.
Guardian has the flexibility to manage exactly how and when your jobs
will run. You can configure when to exclude jobs for maintenance, how
often jobs will send alerts, how quickly and how often the escalation
process happens, and even when to use a specific alert transport like
dial paging vs. e-mail. The core of this flexibility lies in highly extensible
calendar definitions called "every" definitions. These allow
you to define a customized variable of dates yearly, monthly, quarterly
and so on. These "every" definitions then get combined into
"base" definitions for use in jobs, alerts and other runtime
features of the main application. Better yet, everything is manageable
either at the server, on a remote management station or over the Web.
| If you can use Windows Explorer, you can use The Argent
Guardian. (Click image to view larger version.)
The types of alerts the system can fire are almost limitless. Guardian
can alert via a simple system beep, send a page, or run a pre-defined
script then send a page and beep the system. For example, suppose you
wanted to check your SQL logs for a specific string that appears within
a period of time. If the string is found, Guardian can be told to execute
a SQL-stored procedure and then send an e-mail notifying the on-call SQL
administrator that the issue has been resolved. The jobs can even be set
up so that other criteria have to be met before a job is allowed to execute
The main type of data the program collects is native Windows information,
which doesn't have a large impact on system resources. This is nice because
it means that the program isn't in competition for server resources with
your user applications. The program gives you the option of using client
agents, which is a blessing in the world of Microsoft. I've never met
an administrator (NT, SQL or otherwise) who said they liked agents. As
far as I'm concerned, agents are just more trash on a server that can
interfere with critical network services. If you need to connect through
a firewall, however, you can use the product's firewall agent (basically
a proxy-based service) to forward event information on behalf of the monitored
Guardian was fairly easy to implement, too. I put the package into full-production
monitoring on 80 of our servers in less than two weeks. This included
event monitoring on all critical network services and collecting uptime
metrics that are published on our intranet via the product's built-in
reporting and graph capabilities. I found the product to be highly responsive,
allowing me to change and modify what and how I was monitoring on the
fly. The GUI is clean and crisp, making it easy to use. There isn't a
lot of clutter to sift through.
Guardian's features are intuitive, and the product includes many demos
to help you figure out what they're intended to do. There are great testing
and tracing capabilities built in so you can quickly check portions of
the system to diagnose anything that isn't functioning. The package currently
ships with 23 monitoring plug-in rule components included. The plug-ins
include rules for Exchange, SQL, Oracle, APC, Cisco, Nortel and many others.
The system can also capture SNMP traps and will integrate with Compaq
Insight Manager and Tivoli.
The one thing I didn't like about Guardian is the frequency of new releases
(almost one per month). This caused a lot of problems with the QC process
and throughout my testing. I worked with the Guardian development team
to identify and fix bugs that could've been discovered with proper regression
testing. The good news is that the whole Guardian team is blessed with
an above-and-beyond mentality. The tech support is outstanding (they actually
call you back); if you don't get what you're after they'll send you right
to the main developer.
The more I dove into this system, the more I liked it. If you're looking
for a system that will notify you when you want, about exactly what you
want, and take only the actions you want, you must check out Guardian.
You can download a 30-day evaluation version from its Web site at www.argent.com/products/download.cgi?product=monitor.
This is a full-release version that will monitor up to 100 servers.
Jim Richards, MCSE, MCP+Internet, is a network engineer in Boston, Massachusetts. He can be reached at email@example.com.