by December 5, 2002 0 comments

A network manager’s dream: working in a company where the network’s always up and running. Network users are satisfied because the support staff always answers their queries in time and accurately. Servers never go down because the network-management software makes accurate predictions about likely failures. There’s no budget constraint to improve the IT infrastructure. Well, enough of dreaming. Time for a reality check. Network administrators will always be fixing network traffic jams. Users will keep complaining about their slow nodes that need upgrades, and keep installing unwanted applications. Server performance will keep degrading
every now and then, and new security threats will keep emerging, requiring continuous
downloading and installing of patches and updates.

Inventory PCs on the Network
The latest effort by the four Linux majors is being positioned as
a high-end server for business needs
Meter Licenses
Use a license meter to save on costs when buying software licenses
for your network
Scan ‘n’ Secure your Network
Use these tools to find out how secure your network is
Monitor Mission-critical Apps
Use app-monitoring software to keep track of important
applications on your network

Given the reality check, the network administrator must always be on alert, and have a lot of support in terms of tools and techniques for auditing the network. Thankfully, there’re plenty of those out there for auditing just about every aspect of a network, right from PCs, to networking hardware and even applications. Our story looks at the different types of network-auditing tools, and how network administrators should use them to their benefit. Broadly speaking, network auditing can be divided into PC auditing, network-security scanning, application monitoring and license metering. There are a lot of software in each category, both free and commercial.

PC-auditing software varies from tiny floppy-based utilities that scan single PCs to full-fledged network asset-management software. Network-security scanning includes intrusion-detection tools that will continuously audit the network for security vulnerabilities. Likewise,
application-monitoring tools are important to keep a tab on the applications running on your network that are critical for your business. Lastly, license metering is required to control the usage of pirated software on your network.

These together form the right balance of tools one needs to keep a network going.

In the pages that follow, we’ll talk about each of these in detail, along with hands-on examples of some popular tools. So, maybe there’s still hope to reach the dream we talked of in the beginning!

Anil Chopra

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