Network and Voice Management Software

Date: 20th March, 2008
By: Peter WilliamsCarl Potter
Format: InComparison

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We cannot overstate the importance of an integrated toolset for seamlessly managing and supporting the whole enterprise network and voice infrastructure. Problems occur, so the best tools need to: a) very rapidly pinpoint and correct existing faults and degraded performance, b) prevent problems occurring in the first place where possible, and c) handle network changes easily and automatically to minimize risks to live operation. To reduce management complexity, the ideal software set will also be easy to implement, update and use.

These are the factors providing the basis for Bloor's software evaluation criteria for reviewing four leading companies—CA, EMC, HP and IBM. We provide an overview of their strategies and technologies for network (fault and performance) management and voice management in major enterprises, and compare these companies' strategic directions, technology strengths and overall completeness. Here is a summary of our main findings:

Overall: All four companies provide very capable solutions for managing enterprise networks but varying degrees of capability for voice networks. In our view CA's Network and Voice Management (NVM) solution rates highest overall in enterprise network and voice management. IBM matches CA in terms of completeness with HP behind primarily because of its lack of VoIP. CA's NVM suite rates highest for technology through its relative stability, broad functionality and a clear lead in integrated VoIP functionality. IBM and CA offer wide distributed and mainframe network support, with HP and EMC strong across distributed networks.

Strategy: Our top-down view, of necessity, goes wider than network and voice management into IT service and systems management strategies. All four vendors have well-defined strategies which seek to extend their systems management reach into the network and voice space and also provide a significant business/application context for service management. Overall IBM rates slightly ahead of HP and CA through its well-grounded strategy which centers on ITIL best practice and increasing automation throughout its product stack.

Technology: Despite strong competition, we believe CA's NVM provides the best enterprise network and voice management technology overall. Its network performance, fault and VoIP management are well integrated with strong root cause analysis and SLA tracking. CA was first to add integrated VoIP management, and maintains its lead despite EMC and IBM now adding VoIP capabilities.

Completeness: CA and IBM come together just ahead of HP. CA scores highest for its end-to-end view, boosted by wellintegrated VoIP management. IBM's strengths include: global reach, quality of customer support and depth of knowledge through its global services consultancy. CA and HP also have a wide global presence while EMC is behind but closing the gap; for instance, it recently purchased specialist consultancy Business Edge. IBM has new, unproven VoIP software, EMC's VoIP capability is partly through an OEM deal and HP lacks a complete VoIP offering.

The main criticism in terms of fitness for purpose is offering complexity and the consequent steep learning curve to gain full benefit; this applies especially to IBM and HP, although HP's NNMi 8.0 is addressing ease-of-use while IBM is working hard to ease installation.