by January 3, 2008 0 comments



There are certain things which one cannot neglect while managing a network,
such as security, software/hardware failure, and change in inventory. In order
to properly manage the above-mentioned aspects, one has to keep a set of tools.

A good set of tools for a network manager are the equivalent of a Swiss army
knife with a soldier. They come in handy when you are in trouble. So, here’s one
such collection that you might find useful. In this article we will detail you
how to use them.

Network Monitoring
The only way to ensure that you don’t end up with unknown hardware/software
failures is to monitor them regularly and replace or rectify the faulty
machinery before it stops working. Additionally, you also need to keep track of
users in your network and their activity. Following are two tools that can help
you with  monitoring.

NTop
This tool captures data going through your Internet gateway and presents it
in very comprehensive graphs and charts. With NTop you can monitor the total
bandwidth usage, protocol level and user level view of bandwidth usage, etc.
NTop can be deployed on either Windnows or Linux. But the key point to keep in
mind is that you have to install NTop on the gateway for best results. So,
whatever OS your gateway is running, get that version of NTop.

A detailed view of all
systems on a network with their bandwidth consumption, protocols, and
applications usage

Installation of NTop is child’s play. For the Windows version, simply run the
installer and hit ‘next’ for a couple of times. Once installed, you will see a
NTop Xtra icon just beside the clock at the system bar. Double click on the icon
and a Window opens up.

Here click on the ‘Start NTop Service’ option and then on the launch NTop
option. An IE Window will open up with the address http://localhost:3000. This
is the location from where you can access the NTop page in future. The system is
very much self explanatory and you can use it without any hassles.

OpenNMS showing the status of
services on a machine. Red indicates error and green indicates healthy
services

To install NTop on Linux, all you have to do is go to the terminal as root
‘assuming you are using a Fedora Linux distro’ and type ‘yum install NTop.’ It
will get downloaded. To start it you need to type ‘service NTop start’ and
access it from a web browser using the same address as Windows one:
http://localhost:3000

OpenNMS
OpenNMS is an Open Source Network Management System, which runs on any OS that
supports Java and Tomcat. This software is capable of SNMP service polling, data
collection, notification, and event management.

Using this software you can monitor your crucial servers and individual
services that are running on them like HTTP, FTP, MySQL; that too in an
agent-less environment.

The installation of OpenNMS used to be pretty tedious, and you had to
configure quite a few components such as Tomcat and Java to make it work. But
now we have something called an OpenNMS Appliance. All you have to do is copy it
from this month’s DVD and run it with VMware player.

We have talked about using and installing OpenNMS in our June issue of
PCQuest. You can access the article from

http://pcquest.ciol.com/content/enterprise/2007/107062903.asp
.

Hardware Inventory
The next most important thing besides monitoring your network is monitoring
you assets. Keeping track of hardware/software and tracking their changes is
very important for any organization. This not only prevents theft or misuse of
resources, but also keeps track of faulty equipment and generates alerts in case
of failure. Below, we will look at two software with which you can do such
tracking with ease.

To submit an error with SysAid
go to its homepage, select the type of error from the menu, fill in your
comment, and submit

SysAid
It’s a complete asset management and IT helpdesk management software. With
this software and accompanied agent one can keep track of all the hardware and
software components of all the machines which have the agent running.

The added benefit of the application is that it can also be used as a
helpdesk system and users can lodge their complaints directly from the same
agent in a simple wizard manner. The installation of the SysAid server is pretty
simple and straightforward.

All you have to do is to start the installer and follow the wizard. The only
value you have to provide in the wizard is the mail server and reply to address
and the port on which the SysAid portal will be accessible.

Installation of the agent is even simpler. All you have to do is to manually
install the agent setup file on the server machine once. The only thing you will
be asked while this installation is the IP address of the server and the serial
number of the agent installation file. If you have the free version of the
software then the serial number will be provided free of cost but this setup
will only be usable for 100 users or assets or for 3 administrators.

For bigger setups, you need to purchase the full version of the application
from http://www.ilient.com/helpdesk-software-prices-hosted.htm. It will cost you
around INR 20 per user or asset.

Once you are through with the setup you can push the agent file to client
machines from the same server by using agent interface. All you will require
here is either username or password of all the client machines or all the client
machines have to be a part of a central domain controller.

We had discussed this tool in great detail in our JAN 2007 issue. You can
access it from http://pcquest.ciol.com/ content/ search/showarticle.asp?a tid=92893.

Alchemy Eye
This is an application that keeps an eye on server availability and hardware
components. In case of any failure or change in hardware components, it
immediately sends alerts to the administrator via email or phone (SMS).

Alchemy Eye can tell you which
applications and hardware are installed on all workstations on your network

The installation is very easy and all you have to do is to follow the
installation wizard. Once the installation is done, start the application, go to
the File menu and click on the ‘Scan Network’ option. Once the Scan Network
wizard appears, provide the IP range of machines you want to detect. So, for
instance, if your network address is 192.168.1.0 and you have 100 machines in an
IP sequence, then you will do a search from 192.168.1.1 to 192.168.0.100.

Once you have provided the IP range, select the services for which you want
to do a scan from the bottom of the Window and click on the start button to
initiate the search process.

This could take a while depending upon how many machines are on the network.
Once the scan is done it will list all the live machines in your network. It
will also list the services running on each machine, as well as the OS.

Once you scan your network with
LANSurveyor, it creates a map of your network with all devices and links

You can then set a watch on the desired services for the machines. ICMP-ping
is enabled for all the machines by default. Once you are done with this, press
on OK and the main Window will appear. From the main Window you can see the
status of the machines and watched services.

On a mouse rollover movement you will be able to see the descriptions of
errors on machines if any. If you want to drill down and see what all
applications and hardware are there in a given machine, then just right click on
the machine’s IP and click on the ‘View Computer Inventory.’ Here a wizard will
open. Follow the wizard with default settings and an agent will get installed on
the client machine. Now you will be able to see all the errors, hardware,
software, etc in the machine.

Network Management
Monitoring is useful but what do you do after monitoring the information,
issues, and errors? The next step is to manage this information in a better way
and manage the faulty devices as well. So below are two software that can help.


Name

Cost

In CD\

Link
Ntop Free yes
http://openextra.co.uk
OpenNMS Free yes http://OpenNMS.org
SysAid Free for 100 users yes http://ilient.com
Alchemy Eye 299 USD No

http://www.alchemy-lab.com/products/eye/
LAN Surveyor Paid (Quote on Request) 30-days trial ttp://www.neon.com/LSwin.shtml

LANSurveyor
This is one of its own kind and a feature rich application for mapping your
network. The software is available for download as a full version 30 days trial.
You can get it from http://neon.com.

To use, first copy the software from this month’s CD and run the setup
wizard. The installation is very simple and doesn’t require any special
knowledge. Just follow the wizard and it will be done in minutes. Once it’s done
run the application and it will start up a wizard.

Here you have to provide details of your network subnet. For example if you
have a class C network 192.168.0.x, then you will most likely want to search all
the machines between 192.168.0.1 to 192.168.0.254. Provide the values to the
system and also tell the number of hops you want LANSurveyor to look for.

At the bottom of the page you can even define which types of nodes you want
to discover on your network such as ICPM response nodes, NetBIOS clients, SIP
clients, etc.

Once selected, click on the OK button to start the search process. Depending
on the size of your network and the class of your subnet the search will take
from a few minutes to a few hours. Once the search is done you will be presented
with a map of your network with links and connections. In this map you can even
select and create alerts for error on any machine or link response. You can even
purchase and download the neon agent from their website and install them on your
nodes to get a complete inventory and response detail of your devices.

Anindaya Roy and Vijay Chauhan

No Comments so far

Jump into a conversation

No Comments Yet!

You can be the one to start a conversation.

Your data will be safe!Your e-mail address will not be published. Also other data will not be shared with third person.