DX Spectrum Review

The most valuable features start with the core feature fault management. I like the fact that it is fully customizable.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features start with the core feature fault management and then the Configuration Manager; Service Manager; Watches; event management and event correlation; MIB tools; and the fact that it is fully customizable.

How has it helped my organization?

CA Spectrum as a fault management tool from a service provider perspective, turns your network management team from reactive to proactive, minimizes the network management staff number requisite, and gives you a centralized view of all your network faults. From a customer perspective, it assures you about your network health and availability. The configuration management feature relieves you the burden of manually saving all yours devices configurations. It allows you to massively upload standard configurations to a group or to all your network devices. The service manager feature allows you to look at your network devices as a collection of assets that plays a role on a service instead of looking at them as an individual network asset. I could give you much more examples.

What needs improvement?

There's always room for improvement! In order of importance, I would say that CA should start to get rid of Java on the OneClick console. They could highly improve the Configuration Management feature, the schedule manager and the watch's allowed types and formulas.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have used CA Spectrum for eight years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The most stable version I've worked with was the 8.1 and the 9.1.3 running on Windows Server 2003. Every versions running on Windows Server 2008 (R2) that I've worked after that (versions 9.2, 9.3 and 9.4) have had some issues either with OneClick/Spectro Server communication (hanged alarms for instance) or with global loss of SNMP communication with network devices, or DDMdb increasing indefinitely or with some unexplainable SSDB crashes. I haven't worked yet with version 9.10 but I am pretty sure that the 64-bit architecture was a huge improvement for the platform performance.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The DSS (Distributed SpectroServer) deployment is quite good for scalability. The only issue with it is when you need to discover connections between devices that stand in different SpectroServers (different pollers). You cannot find relations between them at all! The only workaround I know is to duplicate the devices that are doing the bridge between whatever you have in one poller and the other poller in both pollers!

How are customer service and technical support?

Although they behave differently depending on the zone you are in (US, Europe or West Asia), for basic and common issues they are good. For more advanced (models database issues for instance) or specific issues (monitoring interfaces running HSRP for example), they will struggle with it and most likely won't be able to give you a solution! If you want to fully explore the features of the platform, you will need to dig it by your own. One curiosity detail about CA regarding CA Spectrum is that as they released new versions of CA Spectrum, they start to hide the deepest features, such as the creation of different model types in the catalog database. You can still do it but, if you want documentation of it, you need to go to look for it at Aprisma and/or Concord documentation (these are the previous vendors of CA Spectrum). If you start with customization issues, even if they are well documented in the manuals, the support will most likely advice you to contact the CA Special Services and close your issue.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I didn't use a previous solution. I've always worked with CA Spectrum.

How was the initial setup?

Depending on the operating system, you may need more or less pre-install tasks (installation user privileges, hosts file configuration, then in Linux you need specific packages, disable or configure IP tables, or in Windows disable UAC, DEP, firewall, etc.). The platform installation is straightforward. Always use dedicated servers for CA Spectrum and if you have the chance to, install the platform in virtual machines making snapshots at important checkpoints. It will spare you a lot of work and troubles.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

In my former company we had a per device licensing. I'm not aware of the values.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I've been working with CA Spectrum since my first work day. I was never in a position where I could take that kind of decision.

What other advice do I have?

Try to test and tune every feature you want to implement in a controlled environment. CA Spectrum is a powerful solution that will allow you to do almost everything you ever needed to monitor your network infrastructure. Due to its many features, there are always multiple ways of achieving the same goal. Picking the most efficient is the hard task. For every monitoring/management challenges that you face, you have always the last resort alternative, which is using your own scripts/programs to interact with CA Spectrum Web Service, VNMSH, or even adventure yourself (re)writing Java code using the CORBA API.

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