Today I’m turning the blog over to my good friend, Matt Barton of Devon based Ostrich IT as Matt reviews GFI Software’s latest version of their popular log data analysis and IT management tool, GFI EventsManager 2013.
Matt recently took over the running of MSPComparison, the web-site dedicated to reviews of Managed Service Provider (MSP) tools, so if you’re looking for reviews of the latest tools and honest opinions from your MSP peers on whether those tools will be a good fit for you – check out MSPComparison.com
Over to you Matt!
GFI EventManagers 2013
A common trend within the I.T industry these days is centralisation. The ability to perform as many tasks as possible from one location has many benefits.
Cost saving is the obvious one, but having your staff in one central location allows for better management, consolidation of tasks and camaraderie that you gain from being part of a group, rather than being stuck in a remote office.
It’s with the idea of centralised management that GFI are working towards with their new EventsManager 2013 application.
Working alongside their other offerings for the internal or MSP support team, Event Manager monitors, alerts and reports directly from the event logs of the selected machines within the network.
Installation is straight forward with any pre-requisites taken care of for you. If you haven’t already requested a trial license code you’ll be advised to get one as part of the install. Even though you can finish the install without one, you won’t be able to access the software until you present it with one of the golden codes.
Unlike some monitoring applications, no reboot is required and once installation is completed (it checks for any latest updates after install is done) you are good to drive straight in.
The benchmark for any tool is how easy it to get going? You want to get the basics out of the way, show yourself some quick wins, and then schedule time to actually getting to know the product. This is one area that Event Manager Monitor shines.
As soon as you’re in the product, Wizards galore embrace you more than a weekend at Hogwarts. Walking you through the scanning of the network and selecting all suitable machines. Be aware though at this point as to what your license count is. If like me your network has hundreds of machines and your license is for less than 10% of that, you will spend a long time unselecting items that you cannot or do not want to monitor. Also double check that what you want to monitor is actually selected. Adding devices after the initial Wizard seems to be near on impossible.
Syslog and SNMP traps are all included as part of the logging process, allowing you to keep tracks of all manner of items within your business. From the printer running out of toner, to hack attempts on your firewall.
You could leave the install there and have it as a central repository for your logging needs – enabling a swift and easy method of filtering down through numerous layers to resolve those tricky on-going glitches on your network.
Additionally, you can add in checks, alerting and verifications of the units that you’re connected to.
This is achieved through a simple process where your monitored devices can be checked for all sorts of actions from disk space and health, through to the existence of files or the functionality of your SMTP feeds.
Like all good data collection applications, the true power is getting the information out. This is one area where you can spend your whole day, week or month in! With a vast pre-set of defined reports and the ability to create custom ones, the ability to collate, generate and then present you with hard facts and figures is an easy one.
In addition, the quick status windows, allow you to see at a glance what is going on deep within your network. Picking up as standard, user logins, software installs and updates through to network activity.
Difficulties managing separate networks
One of the major downsides though is the area of collecting data from separate networks. You can consolidate all your data within the one system, but only manually. Exporting and importing is the name of the game here leaving you with the option of having separate independent views (including all the reporting, monitoring and everything else you buy this product to perform) or a schedule of manually taking the data from one install and updating it into the master database. Not great in this connect world of our and a huge mistake on the part of GFI that I believe could limit the market for this tool with MSP’s.
Overall, GFI EventsManager 2013 is easy enough for the smaller business to get started with and powerful enough for the larger infrastructure to gain a valuable insight from. As long as they can work within the connectivity issues mentioned in dealing with multiple networks (and while this is a problem for most MSP’s, for most IT departments looking after a single network – it isn’t an issue) both SMB’s and Enterprise clients will find this a very useful tool.
You can find Matt on Twitter @OstrichMatt
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