CA Spectrum Review

The Service Dashboard provides a service-oriented view of infrastructure without having to use another tool.

Valuable Features

The product is rich in features, so a lot of them are valuable.

Network Configuration Manager - Backup network device configuration, enforce policies, enforce configuration and correlate configuration changes with network status. Also has an approval workflow for changes on devices.

Certification - You can certify devices in several levels. The most complex ones give you great results for your efforts, such as a certification using a Model Type Editor for a customized model type along with Event Admin to receive alerts from another source and redirect to your new models based on Name (this allows for creating virtual environments to monitor devices without IP if you have a manager with IP/SNMP for them) or IP, creating Dynamic Alarm Titles. This gives great value, because it becomes really easy for your operations team to know exactly what is happening by just looking at the alarm console, instead of searching for the problem in the alarm description.

Event Correlation - Great to map events and to correlate them before generating alarms. It works with event pairs, event count, event series and other methods; really useful.

Condition Correlation - Great for correlating alarm conditions with devices. For example, you have a router redundancy, and you don’t want two different alarms for Device Down. You can create a domain and rules to specify that if only both of the routers are down, it will generate a new alarm with the possibility to use whatever name you want for that new alarm.

Service Dashboard - This one is particularly great, because customers love it. It allows you to give them a service-oriented view of their infrastructure without having to use another tool for that. Because it’s part of CA Spectrum, the service is affected immediately after an alarm occurrence.

Improvements to My Organization

It allowed us to move from an open-source solution using six servers to an enterprise solution using two servers to monitor the same number of elements. Also, of course, the product offered a lot of features ready to use that we didn’t have before.

Room for Improvement

The Systems Performance Agent is powerful, but, for example, if you want to run a sql query and set a threshold against the returned value, you can’t directly. You need a script with the threshold set in the script and an exit different than zero (0) to generate an alarm. This is something that almost every monitoring solution on the market has built-in. CA UIM, for instance, does that really well. What you have ready to use is the ability to execute the query and get the value for how much time it took to execute.

Use of Solution

I have used it since January 2009.

Stability Issues

I have not encountered any stability issues so far.

Scalability Issues

I have not encountered any scalability issues so far.

Customer Service and Technical Support

Technical support is very good.

Previous Solutions

We previously used a different solution, and we switched mainly because the company needed scalability.

We were using Zabbix, a similar product, at the time, and we had a custom poller written in C and six servers to make it run. However, to get it past 12k elements (the break point for this solution), we would have to redo the entire file system using GFS from Red Hat to allow simultaneous write for a shared storage area. So, when we presented the project, the company realized it was time to invest in an enterprise solution. CA Spectrum was the winner after a series of tests and PoC process with the suppliers.

To install CA Spectrum and discover the network, it required half a day, back in 2008. Some of the competitors couldn’t complete the PoC after one week.

And CA Spectrum offered also a variety of OOTB features such as an easy certification process, VLAN discovery and other stuff.

Initial Setup

Initial setup was very simple; as simple as Next - Next – Finish. The complex part isn’t the setup, but the planning (architecture and such).

Pricing, Setup Cost and Licensing

Right now, it’s device based, so count what you have and estimate your total growth for at least one year. CA works on a trust-based method.

Other Solutions Considered

At the time we decided to switch from an open source to an enterprise solution, we evaluated HP OpenView, IBM Tivoli, EMC Smarts.

Other Advice

Don’t try to do the planning without consulting a CA Partner or an expert. You will need help in other matters also; must have a good knowledge of SNMP protocol. Always read the documentation, which is very rich, and use the communities for extra help besides the support.

CA Spectrum is awesome for networks, but when paired with CA UIM, you can have everything: datacenter, networks, virtualization and on.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: My company is a CA Partner.
2 visitors found this review helpful

Room for Improvement answer: If you use the "Watch Manager" you can easily query whatever and alarm on complex threshold calculations. With Watch manager you can distribute "watches" to many devices easily and activate them based on policies or on global collections membership. "Watch Mgr" is included in Spectrum Core. Just a tip...

08 September 16
Randall HindsReal UserELITE SQUADTOP 5

My experience working with this product matches many of the statements made. That said, I find it difficult to give weight to this review. It seems as to be oriented toward selling the product and consulting services to support, rather than an "unbiased review from the tech community".

08 September 16
Joao EvangelistaConsultantTOP 20

Hi Robert, i've used watch manager several times, it's another great functionality, i meant a sql query, not just an snmp query, i'll edit that part of the review, thanks for the comment.

08 September 16
Joao EvangelistaConsultantTOP 20

Hi Randall, i think it's hard to not compare tools, as you said, your own experience matches many of the statements made, but i do value your comment, thanks for reassuring what i wrote.

08 September 16
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