In my many years of working with monitoring systems, I have had the opportunity to complete a deep dive into Prognosis from Integrated Research (IR). As many people know, selecting a monitoring solution and strategy for your collaboration environment is a challenge, especially if you are tasked with fitting into a framework that monitors your network, Windows, Unix, databases, virtualizations, storage solutions, etc.
While this post will not dive into a monitoring strategy, I will be providing an in-depth review of the monitoring tool Prognosis from IR. I will be covering its administration capabilities, end-user experience and finally, reporting.
Is Prognosis Flexible for Administrators?
Prognosis can be a powerful tool, and the more experienced you are with the platform, the more powerful it will become for you. Correspondingly, the amount of time, required skill set and resources you want to invest will differ for everyone. In reading multiple reviews about IR, one of the biggest criticisms against the tool is “everything extra is an extended solution.” While a part of that I found to be true, the tool can achieve your goals. But your own subsequent value will be a function of the time and resources you invest in learning Prognosis.
The most significant pain point I found was performing something basic like adding an SNMP MIB. For most tools, you can import this yourself. However, for Prognosis you have to use their professional services. With other features, like creating a custom display, a live canvas or a custom alert, an administrator can complete all these tasks with the proper training.
In summary, while I agree that the limited flexibility for some applications that Prognosis doesn’t support is a challenge, the items a trained/skilled administrator can complete themselves is extremely powerful. My personal recommendation is that if you invest in Prognosis, you should have a strategy in place describing how you use, manage and improve the tool: Decide whether you’ll invest in the resources to become powerful administrators, budget for using IR to support/administer/develop, or have your collaboration environment managed by a partner who will administer it on your behalf.
What Is the End-User Experience Like?
The user experience has been very positive. Compared to some other tools that I have used, Prognosis is very intuitive. An end user that doesn’t have any experience with this collaboration application will be able to use the tool to get a clear picture of what information they are looking for and, in some cases, diagnose a problem. For example, you don’t need to be a Cisco Call Manager expert to get a report that a phone became unregistered — just click on the phone’s link in Prognosis, click the unregistered link, discover the time and reason code, and then determine the problem was a connectivity issue.
Additionally, an end user can create ad hoc dashboards, which is a very useful feature. With very limited knowledge of technology or the Prognosis application, an end user can create a custom dashboard view very easily. Finally, an end user can export anything displayed on the user interface (UI) into Excel, which is great for passing on the data to another end user or a customer.
In summary, the end-user experience for navigating the Prognosis UI is definitely a strong point of Prognosis. An end user unfamiliar with the tool or the collaboration application can easily navigate the UI and get the information they are seeking.
How Is the Historical Reporting in Prognosis?
By default, the Prognosis application will provide basic reports, ranging from server health to call load, and mean opinion score (MOS) reports, either for the current day, last day, current week, last week, current month, last month or the last three quarters. These reports/data are not customizable, and you cannot schedule them; they are for ad hoc usage only.
IR does offer a solution that it calls the Advanced Reporter, which will fill the gaps of the built-in historical reporting. The solution is based on the Microsoft SQL database with its current front end being Microsoft SSRS. With this solution, you now have the ability to schedule reports to be mailed or saved in various formats. You also have the ability to make small customizations such as branding, selecting which fields are in your report or how you want it sorted, etc. With deeper Microsoft SQL knowledge, you have more flexibility in joining data sets and creating your own report definitions.
My overall opinion of IR is that it built a very powerful tool in Prognosis that delivers a very strong user experience, and near real-time capabilities. It allows end users to use the tool without putting the burden on their customer/end user to collect information. With this tool, you can perform several tasks proactively and diagnose and report on issues that the customer never knew existed.
I do recommend that if you are evaluating this tool you detail a plan for the people using it to extract optimal value from Prognosis. If you do not have the qualified or available staff to utilize this tool, or want to pay IR for extended solutions, you have the option of finding a managed services provider who can fill that gap.
If you are interested in a collaboration managed services provider that delivers valuable answers to the questions specified in this blog, you can reach out to your CDW account representative and request information on how CDW managed services can oversee your collaboration environment, and we will be happy to assist in solving your business problems.