According to Forrester Research, new Internet appliances will radically alter and simplify network management. These devices, represented by the NetBotz range, are sensor-based devices that are beginning to integrate the once exclusive world of the Internet into the physical world.
NetBotz has developed a family of network-monitoring devices that prevent data centre problems such as OS crashes and faulty server fans, as well as monitoring environmental issues. These rack or wall mounted devices monitor network arrays of servers using SNMP (simple network management protocol). The status of various servers is automatically collected and presented to users on a Web page, or it can be forwarded to enterprise management systems such as HP OpenView or IBM's Tivoli.
NetBotz does more than merely listen and report on the network, however. The systems sport cameras that are triggered by motion events such as rack doors being opened. This allows maintenance staff to easily determine who was responsible for downtime - if it was caused by human interference. The company is also busy creating software agents that will be able to interpret proprietary SNMP information that will enable NetBotz to monitor everything from fan speed to power usage and chip temperatures on almost all hardware platforms.
Forrester believes the appliance-based approach to network management headaches will be a hit. For one, the appliances are available at a low cost and are easy to install - a simple Web browser is all users need to obtain full use from these plug-'n-play devices. The approach also provides smaller companies the ability to effectively manage their IT systems, while easily integrating with larger system houses with NetBotz in their data centres.
NetBotz monitors both the technology as well as the physical conditions in the server room. Whether it is a power supply about to overheat, an airconditioner about to wear out, or a disk drive that is close to capacity, NetBotz can be the data centre's eyes and ears.
For companies delivering IT services according to an SLA, keeping trained staff in the data centre at all times in case something goes wrong is not an option. The costs are too high and these people's skills could be better used elsewhere.
Remote, Web-based network monitoring offers organisations the opportunity to cut costs while ensuring their systems are closely monitored at all times, and a technician is merely a browser away.
Forrester sees these devices as harbingers of the next generation of the Internet.