I've looked at several applications for Monitoring the BlackBerry environment. Let me give quick reviews of following applications and will give you my take on them.
I'll say a little about each here and I hope that it helps your decision. Let me preface everything by saying that I'm probably NOT talking about the most recent versions and that I'm an outsider of thier companies looking in. Product: Spotlight on Messaging Description:
- Spotlight on Messaging
- Zenprise for BlackBerry
Quest's Spotlight on Messaging which is the follow-up to Spotlight on Exchange has been expanded now to include BlackBerry monitoring. The one caveat that I saw when we were reviewing it is that it is *primarily* an Exchange Monitoring Product and not BlackBerry. For many organizations out there, we monitor Exchange extensivly and didn't really need another tool for that. That being said, it does have the benefit of "pseudo-constantly" running the Exchange Best Practice Analyzer on your environment. It's not a true ExBPA, but it will monitor everything that is normally monitored including FPTE's (Free Page Table Entries) which many products do not. FPTE's have been a pain point in our organization. Pro's:
Very good end to end monitoring of Exchange including traffic flow, connections, services, and basic alerting. Very, very pretty application - looks great on a big screen in a NOC. When there is an error detected it gives you the direct link to Microsoft's KB about remedying the problem. Con's:
Quite a bit of configuration in a large environment with setting thresholds and the like, but worth it in the end. Needs to have something for helpdesk or "non-privileged" people, which is lacking. Product: Zenprise for BlackBerry Description:
Zenprise is the major platform for monitoring everything "messaging." It includes an excellent user interface (though not always intuitive), good problem analysis, and a well-done set of KB's for resolving issues within your BlackBerry and Exchange Environments. Pro's:
It is without a doubt the prettiest thing out there. If you need something to show people for 'oohs' and 'aahs' this is your product. They constantly update their knowledge base and are always expanding on what they cover. Con's:
The alerting on Zenprise was very difficult at first. Despite saying that it will "auto-baseline" it never really did so. Before setting this up, the number of "false positive" alerts you will receive is mind-numbing. Even after that it seemed to point out every deviation we had off the Microsoft standard baseline, even those where we had no option (for business reasons). It is also a database hog. Our SQL administrators were squirming in thier seats as the database grew and grew. It did have a nice helpdesk interface for reporting and testing. The helpdesk console required Silver Light, which bothered me. Product: BoxTone Description:
A BES Monitoring tool. The first system we've seen that is concerned about Exchange but the primary goal was to fix the BlackBerry side of the house. Pro's:
The database is Oracle and locally on the server and is a "black-box" so you don't need to troubleshoot that. There is no "thick" client. Everything is done (except for changes to the BoxTone system itself) via a web interface. People have ascending rights as necessary and there is a user self-service portal and handheld application (which I believe is licensed separately) so people can self-diagnose. Once setup properly, once, there is really nothing more to do. The reporting is fabulous, very detailed, and exceptionally thorough. It also uses little system resources even considering it is running a local (though it does not have to be) Oracle Database. The web console has a test for handhelds and gives "plain English" solutions for common problems detected. BoxTone auto-baselines fantastically. Con's:
Initial configuration is very difficult and really requires a BoxTone engineer, which BoxTone will supply either online or in person. Active Directory permissions can be spotty when setup. The Web Console had a few quirks about needing a particular plug-in and revision of browser. Most of our users are bound to a "standard" desktop and could not install these. Thankfully our helpdesk wasn't bound by this issue. BoxTone only minimally monitors Exchange, but enough to where it would affect "BlackBerry" health. In Summary:
Each application does have its own merit, but my money is on BoxTone. The web interface is a welcome change from an environment when everyone is running enough thick applications or remoting to servers to get information to do your job. Our helpdesk already runs probably one support application for every regular application that is on our user desktop. Adding one more thick application is overkill. For most people, monitoring of Exchange has already been done and you don't need to worry about that. BoxTone bridges the gap to mobile messaging and therefore user experience. It has an excellent built in KB for issues, testing via connected device (PIN2PIN) software, excellent reporting, helpdesk and user service modules, and alerts only when there is reason to be alarmed.