9 Management Apps That Won't Bust Your Budget

Open source world delivers enterprise capabilities at a price that's hard to resist.

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Savvy IT professionals know that open source management applications can be excellent go-to tools when budget dollars are scarce. Plus, many open source tools have advanced to handle enterprise environments, say industry watchers. (See related story, "Why invest in open source management apps now?") Here are nine tools that could help ease an IT pain point at no cost.

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Key features: Big Sister Network Monitor is an SNMP-aware monitoring program with a Web server front-end and client-server architecture.

The application provides: distributed monitoring of networked systems; real-time views of status; notifications of critical events; historical view of status changes; and displays of system performance data. More info.

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Key features: This Web-based network management tool uses SNMP to collect connection and configuration data for large networks. With the application, network managers can locate the switch port of an end-user system by IP or MAC address. Data is stored in a SQL database, and Layer 2 topology protocols such as Cisco Discovery Protocol provide automatic network topology discovery. More info.

Related story: DIY tips for IT pros: How to cut costs and get more from your gear

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Key features: IPplan includes DNS administration, configuration file management, customizable circuit management and hardware information storage. The application is said to be able to handle a single network or multiple networks and overlapping address space. More info.

Related story: Managing IP addresses with free tools

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Key features: This network discovery and configuration tool eliminates the need to telnet into switches and perform MAC address lookups by continuously running through the MAC address tables on switches, cataloging devices it discovers and populating the data into a local database. More info.

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Key features: This network protocol analyzer can perform deep-packet inspection of hundreds of protocols; conduct live capture; perform offline analysis; and provide VoIP analysis. The application runs on Windows, Linux, Solaris, FreeBSD, NetBSD and OS X, and network managers can browse captured data via a GUI. More info.

Related stories:Management MVPs: IT managers' most useful products

Podcast with Combs

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Key features: Kismet is an 802.11 Layer 2 wireless network detector, sniffer and intrusion-detection system. It works with any wireless card that supports raw monitoring (rfmon) mode and can sniff 802.11b, 802.11a and 802.11g traffic. More info.

Related story: Reloading the WiFi shotgun

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Key features: This PHP-based network management system uses a MySQL or PostgreSQL back-end database as it monitors standards-compliant SNMP devices, servers and TCP port. If network managers are willing to write custom code, JFFNMS can also provide Cisco-centric monitoring features. More info.

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Key features: Designed for server monitoring, Nagios' claim to fame is that code from commercial products including GroundWork Open Source is based on the open source application. The status monitoring and alerting system also provides a number of plugins and supports SMTP, POP3, HTTP, NNTP, ICMP, FTP and SSH. More info.

Related story: Nagios, lots of network management for nothing

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Key features: The network traffic probe can sort network traffic according to protocols, display traffic statistics, show IP traffic distribution among protocols, and identify e-mail addresses of computer users. More info.

Related story: 13 free tools ease IT management

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