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.
- By Alistair Limb
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
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.
like the one shown here, warn you about problems
affecting your network. (Click image to view
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.
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.