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Old 09-29-2009, 04:48 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Boxtone

Zenprise

What do you use?
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Old 10-02-2009, 11:17 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Someone has got to have an opinion on these two. What are you using and why? What features do you like or dont? We are looking at them both for the company and need one that will work for us not against us. Which one is more friendly for a help desk. C'mon guys I know you all have an opinion.
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Old 10-02-2009, 01:37 PM   #3 (permalink)
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We use Boxtone @ our company. Its helpful in alerting you prior to your great carrier reps informing of a network outage. It has helped alot also notifying us of Exchange issues like when a mail server fails over unexpectedly. Hope this helps
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Old 10-02-2009, 05:28 PM   #4 (permalink)
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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.
  • Spotlight on Messaging
  • Zenprise for BlackBerry
  • BoxTone

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: 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.
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Last edited by KMSigma : 10-02-2009 at 05:34 PM. Reason: Clean Up Format
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Old 10-05-2009, 10:46 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Thank you both for the great feedback. So far we have not heard enough or seen the Boxtone product. We had an inital conversation with them and I was unimpressed.

Thanks!! still soliciting opinions!
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Old 10-07-2009, 04:19 PM   #6 (permalink)
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We started off with Boxtone and moved to Zenprise, currently running BES 4.X. There is a web console available for Zenprise and Helpdesk/L1 level users are very pleased with the simply interface and troubleshooting that can be done from it. The thick client enables more advanced users to performace more troubleshooting for the entire environment. The biggest difference between Zenprise and Boxtone is the troubleshooting and the end-to-end monitoring. Zenprise tells you if there are issues with Exchange, DNS or AD etc that may affect your BB user base as Boxtone is purely a BB monitoring tool telling you issues when they come up, so no predictablity unless it is BES related only. Zenprise does both. The other thing is that Zenprise has a rich yet simple troubleshooting experience. It displays step by step troubleshooting guide in a flowchart manner with all related Microsoft/RIM KB or Article numbers and patches right from the console, complete with link and references. It tells you exactly what components or patches are missing/outdated in your infrastructure .. all relating to the health and performance of BB. Reports are better IMO as well although we dont do to much of that here. So we made the move from Boxtone to Zenprise and are pretty satisfied with the results.
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Old 10-08-2009, 09:29 AM   #7 (permalink)
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After testing, here is a justification that we used to purchase Zenprise. Hope it helps.

Zenprise is a management tool for Blackberry\Active Synch devices. Zenprise will allow us to proactively monitor and auto-troubleshoot BlackBerry infrastructure and end-user problems. With this utility we can get end-end visibility into our BlackBerry and Exchange environments. This in turn can allow us to resolve problems before they are reported, without much impact to our end-users. With the Zenprise utility we can see an email through the entire life cycle of an email. That is, when a device send\receives the email, it is tracked throughout the system (Exchange, BES, RIM, Carrier, device) and will report statistics on the entire process. If there is a break in the chain it will inform us where the break is occurring. This also allows us to find possible or proven issues. The utility will also help us troubleshoot if there are any current issues reported.

Example Security Issues
There have been some Security issues that have popped up and we were able to help identify and correct them with the Zenprise utility. Some of these issues are reported below.

•Users with desktop redirector enabled have been detected. What this means is a user has installed the BlackBerry desktop manager software on their respective PCs and have the Redirector enabled. As a result we have stopped allowing the install of the Desktop manager. There were 38 different instances reported by Zenprise. We more than likely would not have caught this without the Zenprise utility.

•There was an unsupported device connected to the BES. The device was a personal Sprint device, which we may have never caught it without Zenprise. We were able to remove the device and found the root cause of issue.

•We can verify if passwords are enabled.
•We can verify if a device has the appropriate IT policy assigned.
•We can verify mailbox sizes.
•During the first week we were able to proactively find a device that was lost\stolen before the user knew it. He was able to verify that it indeed was missing.

•We can locate a device with GPS coordinates if it is either lost or stolen. (GPS needs to be activated on device)
•When a device is replaced or retired we can see if there is a personal email account setup on a device. This was a major security violation that was caught by the security team prior to Zenprise. We now have the ability to see this information. We now know in advance if a device needs to have this information wiped. This is turn speeds up activation time and helps close the security issue by helping to create an effective process for wiping devices.
•Zenprise can see if there are inappropriate installations of software.

Example troubleshooting issues

Zenprise is capable of finding many issues. However in this section we will focus on issues where Zenprise has helped us troubleshoot issues that have cropped up. If the BES services stop running an alert is generated and a text message is sent to the BES administrators. This allows immediate action to BES issues. There have been instances over the past few months where services have stopped and the end users had no idea that it happened. On the other hand there have been noticeable outages, but we were able to find a resolution quicker due to having Zenprise enabled.

•Activation times for first level support have decreased by 10- 15 minutes.
•BES was unable to connect to SRP address. The Network team was notified and issue was resolved.
•When Database went down we called RIM. Part of our contingency plan is to call RIM if any major issues arise. I could see on Zenprise that there were issues connecting to the DB and it generated a report from the BES log files. However, RIM had us go through the logs to see what the issue was. In the meantime, we had already called the DB team and they were able to determine that the DB was down. They were able to get it up quickly with no noticeable user downtime. Zenprise had the answer the whole time. Issue was resolved before RIM was able to verify the problem. If not for the Zenprise system the BES would have eventually been completely down. If product is purchased it will be added to the contingency plan.
•A VIP group was created that includes all of the Executives. This group allows us to provide even better proactive support. 24 times the system alerted to us when one of the executive’s device went out of coverage. Cellular Transport was able to call the users and see if they were having issues. Several times the executives were very happy with the response. Some didn’t even know they were down. There were others that were traveling but still appreciated the proactive response.
•BES was able to determine that the original install years ago was not installed using the proper service account. This is a major issue and explains some of the flukiness that goes on with the system. The new server will be installed with the proper account. We probably would have never found without the utility.
•CDO.DLL version on BES is older than the one on Exchange. We updated to a newer version which resolved some calendar issues.
•BES was experiencing activation timeouts. Zenprise suggested that we install an update. Problem was resolved.
•BES server was unable to resolve SRP address. We troubleshot the DNS name resolution to RIM’s network. Problem was resolved.
•Non responsive MAPI thread on BES server. This message popped up when the Exchange system went down. We were able to verify that there indeed was Exchange issues. This reduced troubleshooting time since we did not have to investigate if the issues were in regards to the BES.
•There are uppercase delimiters in the legacy Exchange environment. This issue has been reported to the Network team.
•A user called in being unable to receive email. Zenprise showed that the mailbox was full.
•BES SNMP object is misconfigured or not functional. SNMP service was restarted.
•BlackBerry-enabled mailbox is hidden from Exchange Address Lists (GAL). Issue has been reported to the Network team.
•Enterprise activation experiencing activation timeouts. There were many activation issues that the first level support had to endure. Most of the issues we were able to use Zenprise to troubleshoot. This reduced troubleshooting time and helped get the customer back up and running quicker.
•If an email cannot reach any device within 2 minutes (can be adjusted) an alert is notified.
•We have been able to save about 10 licenses that were not being used.
•We can see the email latency and troubleshoot if needed.
•The utility shows that our current BES is pretty much taxed.

Conclusion
In short Zenprise allows us to proactively provide high levels of service to our BB users who need to be able to always have access to their email and calendar. We cannot afford to not have this utility since our wireless device numbers are growing daily and the business dependency with wireless devices that now exist. We need to provide the best service for our customers. Higher service levels increase the enjoyment customer’s wireless experience. We are indeed going to be able to “Do more with less” if we purchase this utility.
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Old 10-11-2009, 08:05 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default My 2 cents

After reading everyone's input, I'd have to say that the decision really is between BoxTone and Zenprise. I guess it depends on the costs and on your needs.

My organization already has a ton (and I mean TON) of alerting for Active Directory and Exchange. I've even helped write a few VBScripts to pull non-standard variables from WMI for the Exchange Environment.

That being said, it's all about what you need. We only needed BlackBerry monitoring. We currently don't support any other devices for mail.

Our helpdesk loved the BoxTone interface for troubleshooting and reporting. They loved the way the Zenprise interface ran, but it lacked function (again, I may be speaking of an older version - we haven't looked at them each in over a year). My main problem was getting the alerting right. Unless Zenprise has changed thier previous practices, there was no legitimate baselining. If we had a mail server go down, I didn't get 1 alert that the server was unavailable, I got 35 that database X was down, SMTP connector was down, this was down, that was down etc.

Here's the deal - we (messaging team) didn't need alerting, we had our own. We needed something that allowed the helpdesk (and possibly the user community) to be proactive.

We're currently going to review all the products again after our 5.0 Migration project is complete and I'll add a few notes if this is still an active thread.
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Old 10-12-2009, 09:23 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Can't we do most of what's above with Blackberry Monitoring Service? When device release 5.0 finaly arrives?
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Old 10-13-2009, 01:28 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Monitoring Service

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stainless Steele View Post
Can't we do most of what's above with Blackberry Monitoring Service? When device release 5.0 finaly arrives?
I can't speak for all the niceties about HHOS 5.X, but I will tell you that the BlackBerry Monitoring Service is lacking.

It seems to be an "add-on" that RIM added at the end, but didn't do too much about incorporating with the rest of the environment. It's ok for Server Health, but never lets you know if devices are not quite right. Stick with one of the big two and you will be happy.

Not to discount what RIM does, but they've been promising good Reporting and Monitoring since BES 3.6.
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Old 10-13-2009, 02:52 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Frankly BerryStats offers more then the BES Monitoring RIM provides.

Thanks to all for the idepth feedback on this.
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Old 10-16-2009, 11:06 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Any of these products as useful for all of the people *not* on Exchange? I know there are plenty of Domino and GroupWise users out there...
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Old 10-16-2009, 03:42 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ludicious View Post
Any of these products as useful for all of the people *not* on Exchange? I know there are plenty of Domino and GroupWise users out there...
BoxTone works with Domino, the others not so much...

P.S. I love all the "pro Zenprise" guys with one post - so precious
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