CA Spectrum Review

Monitors countless machines for us; we know when something is down and needs fixing


What is our primary use case?

Monitoring. We set it up so that other people can watch everything and let us know if something goes down, or processing needs to be restarted. Then, sometimes, it just does that on its own. Air conditioner overheating. Stuff like that.

For the most part it has been good. There were snags in the beginning, learning curves, and the like, but it's relatively easy.

How has it helped my organization?

The monitoring just comes to us: "Oh, there's something wrong with that machine." It tells us. There are some 50,000 machines or so, all doing different things. And if they go down we hear about it.

It's improved things because we know when something's down and we know when something needs to be taken care of and when not.

What is most valuable?

The fact that I don't have to sit and watch things. They get monitored, and then I hear about them and take care of them as needed.

What needs improvement?

If they could interact with the MIBs of vendors better, and have a lot more pre-loaded ones, that would be amazing for us right now.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's up most of the time. It's good. At first there were a couple snags here and there, but lately, it's been great.

One issue, after two weeks, we had to pass it up, escalate it, suddenly, and the next person went and solved it. Most of the time it's been solved or we've talked to engineers. Most of the time it's been good. No one's perfect.

There were problems with it going down, or generating extra tickets. But mostly, that got worked out after a little while, with tech support and us going back and forth getting solutions to the problems. It's been great recently.

What has surprised me most about CA has been the inner knowledge of some of their techs. I had no idea what was going on and they were like, "Hey, we got it."

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It's great. You can just keep adding stuff.

How is customer service and technical support?

I would say it's a lot like other tech support. Some of it is great, and some of it is unreasonable. The ones that know their stuff, know their stuff. And the ones that are learning, are learning.

Which solutions did we use previously?

A couple other solutions. It cancelled some of those out. 

We switched because it was a bigger thing. We swapped so we could have support for just one monolithic thing, as opposed to a lot of little things. 

It just had more support, we could call somebody. It was very complex business software. We probably still don't use 40% of the solution at this point.

How was the initial setup?

I would say mixed bag.

We wanted to make it so it was automated with a text file, so we didn't have to watch the little bar the whole time and answer those questions. We wanted all the configuration in one little file. So we had to figure out where that was and how they do that. Once that got done, then automation of getting it deployed to new environments, if we need to, is very fast. We just change a line or two in the text file and say, "Do this," and walk away. It's great.

What other advice do I have?

My most important criteria when selecting a vendor are

  • knowledgeable tech support
  • reasonable forums
  • documentation.

I give it an eight out of 10 because it's not perfect, but it's better than a lot of what's out there. There is still a lot of work you need to do on it. Even though it's a vendor product there is still a lot of support you have to have to get certain things. 

Again, we have a very diverse environment; Cisco stuff, air conditioners. To get all that to work to it's full potential with this product, monitoring-wise, is work. So if there was more interconnectivity already in it that would help. For instance, we had devices that were added six months ago that weren't operating to their full potential. Then we would realize, "Oh, this one needs to be done." So we have to run these end processes. Again, the are a lot of devices. Not all of them are doing this, but enough that we have to sift through them, manually, and get this one working and that one working. So that's why it's not a 10.

In terms of advice, I would tell people to load all the MIBs before you add the devices. Literally.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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