Strengths: Easy to install and use
Weaknesses: No logging or reporting function. Configuration can be done through straight HTTP sessions
Verdict: The product is missing a few key features. While the idea for the device is sound, the missing features restrict the device to specialised applications
The Netcordia NetMRI product is an appliance-based solution. The hardware is actually quite compact, so the system has a very small footprint. The product uses simple network management protocol (SNMP), secure shell (SSH) and Telnet to discover information about systems on the configured network.
It does not use a software-installed client to monitor the devices. This allows the device to see the network traffic for all endpoints and not just workstations. NetMRI moves endpoints that are sending non-policy compliant packets to a separate VLAN from other privileged users.
The user interface is among the easiest to use for products in this category. Almost no time is needed to become familiar it. Hopefully, in the future, the NetMRI product will include a central logging and reporting feature to help administrators create trends of policy violations on the network.
The installation of the NetMRI is quite easy, as the appliance is configured through a web browser. It also has keyboard/mouse/video interfaces on the device, but the installation guide mentioned nothing of using these ports, so we had to leave them unexplored.
The unit does have a front LCD panel, but no configuration is possible through this. While the installation was easy, having to first change the IP addresses of a workstation, then the device, and then the workstation again was a bit annoying and somewhat inefficient.
The documentation for the NetMRI product was a printed installation guide that quite adequately described the process. The guide made mention of a user guide for further configuration of the NetMRI device. However, this was not included in print format, nor was it enclosed on a CD, and we could not find a way to download the file from the Netcordia website.
The support for the NetMRI product is included for the first 90 days after purchase and this can be extended with purchase support options.
The price for this device is on the higher end of products in this category. The appliance does not offer the wealth of features of other products to offset the high cost, so the NetMRI product is geared toward organisations that have a specific need.