Thursday, January 30, 2014

You Just Don't Find Tech Support Like This Anymore

Personally, I hate having to call customer service for help since most of the time you get some guy on the line who clearly would rather be somewhere fishing or hanging out with his buddies. Even if you manage to get the guy actively involved in the call, most of the time he can’t help you anyway, you’re on your own! 

It’s even worse in the software industry where you basically do everything online. You have to rely on emails and phone calls and rarely have the luxury of somebody actually going to your office. We’ve all experienced it before, you call Tech Support to get a hand with some software that you just purchased and it turns out that you always get some automated message, voice mail or phone menu. Good luck if you try sending an email, you’ll most likely get a reply in a few weeks and by then you’ll have grown so frustrated with the software and the unreliable support that you’ll just opt for uninstalling a solution that you paid good money for. 

Well I was sure that this scenario would unfold again when I was looking to purchase a SCOM add-on named Xian Network Manager 2012 from a company called Jalasoft. What this does in a nutshell, is that it extends Operations Manager’s network monitoring capabilities and provides you with an array of features that SCOM just doesn’t have. As you can imagine, I hit my first roadblock during the installation, since I wasn’t very familiar with the product. So I thought, God here we go! I gave Tech Support a call fearing that I would get yet another answering machine, but to my surprise I got an actual person on the line. I was then quickly transferred to an engineer who was able to pinpoint the problem in a few minutes and get me back on track. 

A few days later I hit a second snag. I thought to myself, “no way are these guys gonna be as efficient this time around”, so I gave them a call just to test my theory. I was in awe when I was greeted by the same person as last time who again transferred my call to another tech support expert. I was happy to find out that this guy was just as efficient as the last one. We quickly set up an online meeting  along with some members of their development team where they personally took a look at my setup and before long, the issue was fixed and my setup fin-tuned. 

All the while, both of the support engineers and developers I talked to where polite and patient with all of my demands. That’s just something you don’t find nowadays, and for free. I hadn’t even bought the software at this point, I was only testing to see if I would go forward with it. 

Well I decided that Xian Network Manager was a good fit for my organization so I wanted to begin the purchasing procedure which I thought would be as painful as a penicillin shot. You won’t believe it, but their Sales Team was just as responsive as their Tech Support staff. I was able to purchase the software in a matter of hours and received an Invoice the very same day that I sent my Purchase Order. I was even able to have my environment up and running with a temporary license until my wire transfer cleared through. 

All and all I was so pleased that I just had to write this article for all the people that feel there is no hope when it comes to Tech Support. Cheer up!!  There are still companies out there who take pride in offering quick and effective support with a personal touch. 

Robert Seidl- Consultant

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Why Xian NM and not open source to monitor your network's health and performance?

We all like open source solutions! Sure we do! However, before adopting a company wide strategy with an open source software make sure to run an in depth cost and benefit analysis. Is the time and resources investment worth it? Is the solution scalable? Easy to manage?  Often times you'll find that it's better to purchase, just as Gartner's VP of the IT Operations Research Group suggests.

When it comes to network health and performance monitoring, we feel that we have something to say. Xian NM 2012 is a robust solution that's been around for a while, complementing and powering up Microsoft System Center Operations Manager.

So what to look for in a network monitoring tool (not just in ours)?

  • Ease of installation and deployment: Install Xian NM on any OpsMgr server without the need of installing additional and complex requirements or steps.
  • Simple network discovery: Discovering a device simply consists of running an 'Add device' wizard within the Xian NM console where you provide the IP address and community string of the network device you want to monitor. No complex scripts nor additional steps to make sure your device appears later on in the OpsMgr console.
  • Many out-of-the-box rules: Monitoring is also wizard driven where many rules are already available out of the box and you simply define the alert thresholds and schedule of the rules, without having to know OIDs or scripts that provide the data you need. Since there are tons of rules available, it is up to you to decide how deep the network devices monitoring can go.
  • Custom rules: In case there is need of additional or more in depth monitoring, Xian NM lets you create as many custom rules as desired. The combination of these rules and the default ones offer an advanced monitoring alternative.
  • Scalability and performance: Xian NM lets you monitor up to 2,000 devices and since the Xian engine works outside the OpsMgr infrastructure, no performance issues or problems are inflicted on it.  OpsMgr only needs to receive data from Xian NM.
  • Support of many device models: Xian NM supports several device models with out-of-the-box rules. For example, we support most Cisco devices families. Besides this, adding support for new models is quick and simple.
  • Easy to fine tune: Editing the parameters of any monitoring rule is simple and consists of a couple of clicks that immediately propagate to OpsMgr without deep knowledge of scripting or SNMP.

Learn more about Xian NM!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

What lies ahead for the Xian Suite in 2014?

Credits: Tracey Capone
This year is an exciting year for us! Among the new features and improvements in our road map for the Xian Suite, we can highlight the following:

Xian Network Manager
  • Support for Sflow & Jflow

The current version of Xian NM 2012 already supports Netflow versions 5 and 9, an important flow protocol, but there are other flow technologies that provide traffic analysis data as well. Among the key ones are Sflow & Jflow and the Xian NM team is already working on adding support for Sflow towards the end of the second quarter of 2014.  Next on the list is Jflow so that Xian NM can support the main flow technologies!

Try Xian NM Free

 Xian Wings
  •  HD support for Android
Xian Wings HD will support any tablet running the Android OS and all of the Wings features, such as dashboards, remote power shell, and notifications will be available in this platform too. Estimated delivery date is end of Q2.

Try Xian Wings Free

Xian SNMP Device Simulator

The Xian SNMP device simulator is been revamped with a range of new cool features:
  • SNMP Dump recorder
The simulator will be able to record the behavior of a real device during a certain amount of time to mimic it later on.
  • Direct IP address creation
It'll be possible to add or remove IP addresses for simulation directly from the application.
  • Static and dynamic values
The simulator will generate static or dynamic values for the values returned to any system interacting with the simulator, so that different behaviors are simulated.
  • Quick and unrestricted SNMP dump loading
The internal structure is been modified to improve the performance of the Xian SNMP Device Simulator. This means that it'll be able to load SNMP dumps much more quickly and allow several simulated devices to run simultaneously. 

Try the Xian SNMP Simulator Free