Microsoft offers several tools that can be used for network monitoring, and these can be economically supplemented by Nagios and MRTG, powerful free software that runs under Windows or Linux.

Network MonitoringNetwork monitoring typically consists of observing a network’s resource utilization in order to identify data traffic bottlenecks or troubleshoot hardware or software problems. Microsoft offers several tools that can be used for network monitoring, and these can be economically supplemented by powerful free software that runs under Windows or Linux.

Network Monitor, also known as NetMon, is a utility included with Microsoft’s Systems Management Server (SMS). SMS is intended primarily for change and configuration management, but you can use NetMon to capture and analyze network traffic patterns.

Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM), which is intended for monitoring various application servers across a network, can also track the usage of other network devices such as printers and routers.

Both SMS and MOM are useful in providing insight into problems that affect network throughput and reliability, but for more in-depth network monitoring capability engineers often use two popular, powerful and free tools: Nagios and MRTG.

Nagios screenNagios is a host and service monitor that operates under Windows or Linux. The monitoring daemon runs intermittent checks on hosts and services you specify using external plug-ins which return status information to Nagios. When problems are encountered, the daemon can send notifications to administrative contacts in a variety of ways (email, instant message, SMS, etc.). Current status information, historical logs and reports can be accessed via a web browser.

Some of the major features of Nagios include:

  • Monitoring of network services (SMTP, POP3, HTTP, NNTP, PING, etc.)
  • Monitoring of host resources (processor load, disk and memory usage, running processes, log files, etc.)
  • Ability to define network host hierarchy, allowing detection of and distinction between hosts that are down vs. hosts that are unreachable
  • Contact notifications when service or host problems occur and get resolved (via email, pager, or other user-defined method)
  • Ability to define event handlers to be run during service or host events for proactive problem resolution
  • Support for implementing redundant and distributed monitoring servers
  • External command interface that allows on-the-fly modifications to be made to the monitoring and notification behavior through the use of event handlers, the web interface, and third-party applications
  • Retention of host and service status across program restarts
  • Scheduled downtime for suppressing host and service notifications during periods of planned outages
  • Web interface for viewing current network status, notification and problem history, log file, etc.
  • Authorization scheme that allows you to restrict what users can see and do from the web interface
MRTG screenThe Multi Router Traffic Grapher (MRTG) is a tool to monitor the traffic load on network links. Compatible with Windows or Linux, MRTG reads the traffic counters of network routers and generates web pages which provide a live visual representation of this traffic.

MRTG lets you graph the bandwidth in and out of any SNMP-enabled network device. This includes servers, routers and switches. You can use the resulting information to identify network bottlenecks or trouble spots.

Information you can graph with MRTG include:

  • Bandwidth in and out in bits or bytes per second
  • Connection rate (in connections per second)
  • Bandwidth in an out of a particular VIP/virtual server or node/real server
  • Total number of concurrent sessions
Contact Progent for Network Monitoring Expertise
Progent’s network monitoring experts are skilled in using a variety of network monitoring tools in order to help you repair or optimize your network infrastructure.

For more information, call Progent at 1-800-993-9400 or visit Contact Progent.

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