Figure 12: The NOC at Harvard
With its web based Dashboard utility, the Pulse is surprisingly powerful and functional. The Pulse communicates over 168-bit encryption to a centralized service, enabling a network manager or administrator to access a very informative network Dashboard from anywhere they have an Internet connection. The Pulse even enables remote access to network devices behind a firewall, if you choose to set it up.
Moreover, the Pulse provides a nice level of redundancy, enabling alarming of your network even if the network itself goes down! The built-in analog modem provided excellent network alarming capability, successfully notifying of a loss of broadband connectivity.
In my opinion, it would be helpful for Belkin to offer a dial-up option to the subscription for those who use broadband exclusively and don't maintain dial-up service for redundancy.
The Pulse is priced from $1,499 for a 1-year, 10 server subscription to $5,999 for a 3-year, 50 server subscription. This works out to about $150 per year, per server at the entry level, to about $40 per year, per server for the 3-year, 50 server product.
As mentioned at the beginning of this review, the Pulse is based on technology developed by Jumpnode. Jumpnode sells its product through resellers and OEMs, not direct, hence the Belkin Pulse. Belkin informed me that once the Pulse is launched, Jumpnode will no longer offer their end-user product in order to focus on custom solutions.
Jumpnode does provide a price list on their website, displaying the costs to resellers and OEMs. For example, Jumpnode lists the 1 year 10 server product at $999. But if you look closely at the Jumpnode pricing, Remote Access functionality is an add on. With Remote Access included, the subscription pricing for the Jumpnode and Belkin Pulse are nearly the same.
There are various software solutions for small network monitoring, such as DLink’s DView product, as well as various freeware, such as Servers Alive. The advantage of the Pulse is that it is a stand-alone device that communicates to an external service, providing a measure of reliability that an internally-running tool would be hard-pressed to match.
Loss of functionality on the network can result in a loss of productivity, sales, and revenue, and can affect many aspects of a business. Having a reliable network alarming system can provide advance warning of possible problems, as well as timely notification of various conditions, enabling proactive outage prevention and quicker resolution to outage conditions.
Alarming a network is a Return on Investment (ROI) decision. The higher the cost per hour of downtime, the shorter the ROI of an NMS. If several hours of downtime cost thousands of dollars to your business, an NMS in conjunction with good network management can pay for itself very quickly.
There are many technologies and methods for monitoring a network. Belkin’s Pulse is an easy “NOC-in-a-box” solution to network monitoring, providing the small network manager with capabilities typical in much larger networks. The Pulse makes it easy to get an alarming solution up and running quickly, and it provides a high degree of functionality.
Don't judge a book by its cover, as they say. The Pulse may look simple, but it really has a lot under the hood!