CA Spectrum Review
Some of the valuable features are NCM, REST API, and distributed landscapes.

Valuable Features

  • NCM
  • Discovery: Scheduled, on-demand, synchronized with eHealth
  • Spectrum integration with CABI, eHealth, SOI, and EEM
  • Modelling of custom device models
  • MRTG graphs in real time for interfaces
  • Dynamic Global Collections
  • Distributed landscapes
  • OCC console client
  • Web UI console
  • Integrated GIS maps
  • Self-certification
  • Condition correlation
  • Event configuration
  • OOB Probable Cause database
  • MPLS Transport and VPN managers
  • Watches and thresholds

Improvements to My Organization

CA Spectrum allowed our client, a Tier 1 TELCO, to manage their E2E network infrastructure. The distributed architecture and eHealth integrations enabled a powerful solution for providing Hosted Managed Services to an Enterprise customer. It proactively monitored Enterprise: GMPLS, IPVPN, ISDN, LTE and Leased Line services against set SLAs and maintained a top quality of service.

The easy integration of topology views to a web portal allowed the client to expose actual real time performance and health status of enterprise infra setups. This greatly benefited the client by providing a "wow" factor to their consumers/customers.

Room for Improvement

  • NCM: Needs to be more user-friendly and refined. The ability to quickly see changes across various time configured backups helps to quickly identify changes which could be a root cause to a prevalent problem due to incorrect configurations.
  • MRTG graphs need to be more intuitive.
  • The GIS map feature needs to be enhanced and synced with topology views of containers and global collections.
  • The probable cause database needs to be enhanced.
  • As Cisco and Alcatel lose out to cheaper competition like Huawei, ZTE, etc., device certifications need to be updated.

Use of Solution

We have been using this solution for four years.

Stability Issues

Scheduled discoveries with modelling of large numbers of multi-element devices like switches, MUX, SAN, IP-DSLAM used to freeze up the SpectroServer in r10, although such issues were not faced in r10.1.

Scalability Issues

We didn't encounter any issues with scalability.

Customer Service and Technical Support

CA Spectrum Technical support is very good, especially the ready availability of extremely skilled technicians across the globe, 24/7.

Previous Solutions

I am not aware of any previous solutions.

Initial Setup

The setup of the distributed SpectroServer is complex for large environments, including the integrations with distributed eHealth environments.

Pricing, Setup Cost and Licensing

It is very pricey. With the current trend of enterprises moving towards cheaper and more modern looking solutions like ManageEngine, SevOne, ServicePilot, and Paesller.

CA needs to cut down its pricing strategy.

Other Solutions Considered

HPE OV and CA IM2.0 were tested, but were found either lacking in scalability or user-friendliness, including the lack of a modern, crisp UI.

Other Advice

It is a great product. It is easy to setup if technically strong resources are available. It reduces the cost of underlying hardware due to the higher monitoring capability per server. Always stick to a distributed approach as it helps in fault tolerance due to the unavailability of HA/DR.

1. NCM – Network Configuration Manager – It is very helpful in maintaining the configuration backups of network devices in a multi-vendor ecosystem involving large number of devices. Device configuration changes can be identified on real time and helps administrators to identify unapproved changes and recover from faulty changes leading to device downtime quickly. Reference configurations are helpful in setting a device configuration and naming convention benchmarks and enables admin teams to work without dependency on resources, as the proper and standardized configurations can always be referred to during making changes to devices.

2. Discovery – CA Spectrum’s discovery utility allows IT/NOC teams to find and model the network and view the topology in the Universe and Global Collections views. Bulk discovery is possible to be run using seed files providing the device IP address and using pre-configured policies containing the list of SNMP community strings. This way large networks can be discovered and modelled in one go. It allows us the flexibility to choose the elements to be modelled and how to model them. The inventory data can be exported in desired file format for further review and distribution to key stakeholders. Device changes can be re-discovered into CA Spectrum using the scheduled discovery feature, ensuring that device changes do not place a device model in risk of getting out of live monitoring and avoiding incorrect alarms.

3. Spectrum Integrations –

a. CA BI – CA Spectrum uses CA Business Intelligence (CABI) for reporting purposes. The flexibility offered by CABI to design user defined reports and display data in a variety of info graphical formats lets admins design reports which can display to management in a glance the state of entire network/ sections of the infrastructure. CABI leverages the powerful SAP BO technology which offers a complete suite of information management, reporting, query and analysis tools in a user friendly and intuitive UI.

b. eHealth – CA Spectrum – eHealth integration offers functionality to map existing eHealth elements with the Spectrum device models to allow eHealth generated performance based alarms to be shown on Spectrum alarm dashboard against the relevant device element model. This creates a single pane of glass view for the NOC teams to view all fault and performance alarms in a single dashboard and helps in reporting and carrying out triages to determine RCA of faults. Also, detailed OOB designed eHealth reports are made available to users of Spectrum on a single click and discoveries can be scheduled on eHealth using only CA Spectrum system. Thus, it eases the system administrator’s job while providing a in-depth analysis of the entire network’s state and performance in real time.

c. SOI – Integrating CA Spectrum with CA SOI is now easy using the CA SOI connector. It helps to collect CA Spectrum data into CA SOI, convert it to a common format and expose the data for visualization, analysis,, management and reporting to organizations senior management. It helps to get a management view on a distributed and large network into a single dashboard view including Cis and alerts consolidated into a single frame. The entire infra can be broken down into logical business services and thus impact of faults can be analyzed on services running / hosted / provided by the underlying infrastructure easily.

d. EEM – This integration enables SSO feature for CA Spectrum. Single Sign-On (SSO) lets CA Spectrum users integrate with LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) and Active Directory user management systems.

e. API – CA Spectrum provides web based and REST API for integrations. We found it very useful in creating a custom solution to monitor dynamic IP based devices. It can also be used in embedding CA Spectrum information in web sites or third party apps and fetching data into CA Spectrum especially updating custom attributes of device models with data from external systems.

4. Dynamic Global Collections – Global Collections allow us to model network views from any modelled elements in Spectrum. By specifying rules based on device naming convention/IP address/device type etc. we can dynamically add models into various global collection views as and when they are discovered and modelled in Spectrum. These views are very helpful in breaking down the entire network into logical segregated views based on any criteria which fulfills your business use case.

5. Interface Information - You can view information about the interfaces of a device model by selecting the model and selecting the Interfaces tab in the Component Detail panel. The Interfaces tab displays a list of the configured interfaces and sub interfaces for the selected device, along with the parameters of the interface models. The % utilization (In/Out), packet, errors/discards (%) rates can be viewed in graphical format and thresholds can be set to generate alarms.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: We are a preferred Global Partner and a major vendor of CA products.
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