IBM Tivoli NetCool Review

Enables us to tailor the solution to the particular requirements of a customer

What is our primary use case?

Tivoli Netcool is being used for monitoring network and data center IT infrastructure.  

Currently, I am working on a contract for a customer with an on-premises solution using Netcool. I'm a contractor, so I work with various customers.  

What is most valuable?

Some of the things that I think are most valuable in this solution are:  

  • The scalability in terms of the amount of monitoring it can handle.  
  • The breadth in terms of the different applications, devices, protocols, et cetera, that it can monitor.  
  • The scale, in terms of the number of monitoring events that it can handle.  
  • The flexibility in terms of how you can tailor the solution to the particular requirements of the customer.  

What needs improvement?

The Netcool family of products features a lot of components for which the integration between them requires a considerable amount of expertise and time. From a customer perspective, it is quite an expensive solution to initially implement and then support.  

The product pricing itself is relatively competitive. It is more the skills that the user company needs to employ that run up the actual cost. In order to be able to implement it and maintain it properly, they need resources in terms of expertise, consultants, or very experienced permanent staff.  

There are many capabilities included in the wider product set but it seems that not much has really been developed or enhanced recently. Something I would like to see, and that should be possible, is allowing an easy way to model business services and show the health of business services. Netcool is already very good at monitoring individual components to look at the performance and availability of components, but it is not very easy to model complex business services that have multiple relationships or dependencies.  

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using the product for approximately 13 years now.  

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

There are always bugs and there are many fix packs released for the various components. But in general terms, I would say it is a fairly stable product. Some of the newer features around analytics have proved to have many bugs, but these features have been improved over the last couple of years. The base functionality is generally very stable, indeed.  

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The product is easily scaled. In our current level of usage, we probably have anywhere up to 50 users in the system at any given time.  

The users are predominantly either in a sort of IT service desk capacity or in a sort of IT administrator category. Roles can vary.  

How are customer service and technical support?

I have had experience contacting technical support for some issues. Once you get to level two and level three in IBM the support team, I find their level of expertise to be very good. Support can be problematic, though, if you find yourself predominantly dealing with the first level of technical support. It can take some time in order to get complex issues escalated. Once they are escalated, the issues are handled very well.  

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

Within the environment where I am doing the deployment, I would not know if they had been using another solution. I believe the current customer has used solutions in the past, but it is not something that I would have ever touched. The reason for the switch is that the company determined they needed a different solution to meet their needs.  

How was the initial setup?

The basic installation is moderately complex, but all the further customization and integration that you need to do to make it fit your needs is very complex. It is not a product that somebody could easily pick up without any prior training or experience.  

What about the implementation team?

This product is better installed with the help of integrators or consultants.  

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I was brought in on this project for the implementation once the decision had already been made to adopt the Netcool solution. I am not aware of which products they chose to evaluate.  

What other advice do I have?

My general advice to people considering or adopting this solution would be to ensure that the company defines and understands all of the requirements that are expected of the product at the outset before even choosing a solution. Without knowing what the actual requirements are, it may lead to choosing the wrong product. It is always best to start with considering the base functionality and then build up any customizations from there.  

Also, always try to ensure that you make the minimum number of customizations required for the product to ensure that it is as easy to support in the future as possible. Customizations may not always be compatible with future upgrades.  

On a scale from one to ten where one is the worst and ten is the best, I would rate Netcool from IBM as about a seven-and-a-half versus other competing software products. If I had to choose a round number, it would be an eight.  

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

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