New Network Monitoring Reviews March 2017: Roundup from Our Users

At IT Central Station, the network monitoring category currently has 65 different solutions, over 330 reviews, and is followed by 14,365 members from our enterprise tech users. 

Here are some of our newest and most up to date user reviews for network monitoring solutions published by the IT Central Station user community.

OptiView XG

Valuable Features

Troubleshooting

NetworkAfc36 explains that “since this (his Pharma/Biotech company) is a data center, there are thousands of servers/users” which is why the troubleshooting “packet capture” feature is so valuable.

“The most valuable feature of this product is the sniffer”, says Mike Molfetto, explaining that his Consumer Goods company uses OptiView XG’s sniffer to “troubleshoot user connections by identifying the source and destination, to try to get to the root cause.”

For NetworkEng335, the 10 GigE connectivity helps with troubleshooting, as he shares that “we have a lot of 10 GigE connectivity in our data centers, so we can inject it into the switches, scan the ports and it enables us to capture that data.”

Variety of Applications

ITManagea899 compares OptiView XG to a “Swiss Army Knife”, explaining that his hospitality company uses it for “surveys, heat maps, verification of signal strength, and everything else…it’s the one product that we go to when we have a problem or need to get information, because it can do so much. You don’t have to go back and grab this or that other device.”

Room for Improvement

Lack of Automated Reporting

Mike Molfetto then writes that when it comes to the reporting function, OptiViewXG could be improved in a way that would allow report automation that “dumps the captures to discover what could be the potential culprit.” Molfetto also suggests implementing a distributive model, in order to allow mobile functionality.

Too Bulky

It’s bulky; it’s a big tablet”, writes NetworkEng335. “The physical dimensions need to change a little bit”, he suggests, so that it will be more portable, like an iPad. Except, he adds, “it’s like carrying around an iPad with three inches of bulk underneath it.”

SolarWinds NPM

Valuable Features

Graphical User Interface is Easy-to-use

“I love the GUI”, writes Christopher Good, describing that “almost everything is accessible through the web interface. It is very user-friendly. It is easy to drag and drop resources wherever you want them.”

“An easy-to-use interface for both admins and users is key”, writes Joshua Biggley. Biggley explains that “adoption of any product can be constrained by a UI that is neither intuitive nor visually engaging” and that the SolarWinds NPM framework “empowers a wide variety of admins and users to quickly find value in their installed products.”

Craig Norborg also speaks about SolarWinds NPM’s usability, giving an example of “when you add a node in NPM, it is easy to get it to start monitoring everything it supports and you very quickly see the results of this in the graphs and such.”

Room for Improvement

Notification and Alerting Features

A.J. DiLorenzo argues that the “notification and alerting configuration could be simplified” as “it would be easier to find if it was within the NPM web application instead of in separate client application.”

More Granular Permissions

“I’d like to see a role-based system where you can granularly apply permissions for administrative tasks and be able to assign these roles to people”, writes Craig Norborg.

Christopher Good also brings up the need for “granularity in the permissions sets in almost all of the SolarWinds products.” Good shares his wish to “be able to specify almost everything that a specific user group can do.”

CA Unified Infrastructure Management

Valuable Features

Monitoring Multiple Data Sources

CA UIMbrings silo products together…allows us to consolidate our views for our customers”, writes Zafir Yousaf. Yousaf explains that over the years, his (communications service provider) company has invested in a standard infrastructure; networks, switches, routers, and firewalls. But more recently, since they’ve begun a proposition to “expand to the cloud, Internet of Things, and Big Data, it’s evident to him that CA UIM is flexible enough to manage those silos, too.

Daniel Blanco also speaks of successful infrastructure management that complies well with various technologies/data sources, i.e. “storage, databases, OSs, synthetic monitoring, etc.”

Another user who discusses the advantage of “multiple data sources” is CEO3978, who describes this feature as a “centralized repository for ease of administration and data analytics.”

CEO3978 shares that “prior to CA UIM and CA Performance Center coming along, we had to look at all these systems individually.” Therefore, if one of them was having abnormalities, he explains, it was “difficult for engineers to identify the root cause. This now gives us a single pane of glass to identify the root cause a lot quicker.”

Room for Improvement

Consolidated Deployment Capabilities

Zafir Yousaf discusses the need for deployment tools to be consolidated further, which would include differences such as making the tools “more modular; drag and drop; being able to have a commercial model that also lends itself well with what we’re trying to achieve for our customers…”

Similarly, SrSysEng300 writes that users “should be able to better organize the grouping and deployment…The organization is lacking.”

CA Spectrum

Valuable Features

Alarm Management Utility

Heath Washburn points to CA Spectrum’stotal alarm management utility”, which allows all event alarms to be displayed in one place. Washburn explains that his company uses this utility “as a complete infrastructure management tool”, as all their third-party report into Spectrum.

Fault Tolerance

Engineer0ca8 explains that CA Spectrum’s fault tolerance capability allows his (tech services) company to “understand what’s breaking down (i.e. firewalls, other switches in between, a router, etc.)” essentially where and why, and “where on the path the issue is occurring.”

Room for Improvement

Device MIB Integration

Engineer0ca8 also writes that he would “like to see easier integration and implementation of device MIBs.” His reasoning, he explains is that “I usually find that, whenever we go to add a new device, the MIBs haven’t been certified yet. This is a painful process to get them working in order to find alerts, associate cost codes with event codes, and things of that nature.”

User Interface

“The OneClick UI is a little dated, but still very functional”, writes Frank Tonjes. Tonjes adds that although “they are also addressing this with the new web client, it’s not quite where it can be, but it shows promise and looks pretty good for their first attempt at it.”

Looking to read more network monitoring reviews?

See our entire collection of network monitoring reviews on IT Central Station.

Roundup of Latest Reviews: Solarwinds NPM (Network Monitoring Tools)

IT Central Station covers a gamut of technology products and services that are used every day to power the business of Fortune 1000 and Global 2000 enterprises. In today’s post, we’ll give you a taste of one of the latest reviews that have come in for Solarwinds Orion, one of the many network monitoring tools listed on IT Central Station. Here are a few highlights:

  • User anon375, who is on the network team at a retailer says NPM is “the most efficient Network Performance Monitor with its sniffing, alerting system, and fault discovery.”
  • User mgrntwrk381 who is a network manager at a healthcare company says Orion’s “resource utilization is heavy so you need to analyze the server before using it for multiple roles. We are unable to use web console to configure new alerts.”
  • User teenajain who is IT Director at a company with 1-500 employees gives it 4 stars but says one of its limitations is “building out a dependency structure.”
  • User network185 who is a networking expert at a company with 1-500 employees  says it is “quick to get up and running, but not as granular out-of-the-box as you would expect.”

On IT Central Station, you can read the full reviews of NPM by Solarwinds, and other network monitoring tools including Wireshark, OPNET, CA NetQoS Performance Center, Cisco Data Center Network Manager, Entuity, HP Network Management Center, InfoVista VistaInsight, ManageEngine OpManager, Microsoft Network Monitor and others.

These are the opinions of real users – not vendors, analysts, consultants or bloggers. IT Central Station protects the privacy of its user community–we validate that the reviewers are real users of the products, but the reviews are posted without personally identifiable information so that users can say what they really think and be heard.

These are just a sample of the many fine reviews you’ll find on IT Central Station. If you haven’t already sign up and browse reviews and write your own review.

Do You Throw Bandwidth at the Problem?

This week’s guest blog post is by Bruce Kosbab. Bruce is CTO at Fluke Networks – Visual. If you haven’t already, check out the real user reviews of Visual TruView here on IT Central Station.BruceKosbab

If you are a network manager you have likely faced two conflicting business directives when it comes to managing your network: 1) ensuring that you are delivering the optimal end-user experience with your network, and 2) reducing the operational cost of your network.

The need to ensure adequate end-user-experience puts constant pressures on IT to increase bandwidth in order to provide an effective service to the business, while cost management requires that bandwidth is limited, or even reduced. So, how can you manage these conflicting pressures?

Frequently, in situations in which there are persistent performance problems with an application the initial reaction is to throw bandwidth at the problem. However, often times you can substantially improve the end-user experience and reduce operational costs merely by using the bandwidth you already have more efficiently.

Informed Decisions

Throwing bandwidth at an application performance problem may be right answer, but this solution is not immediate. Ordering new circuits can take anywhere from 30 to 90 days to deploy. And, gathering data to understand the true bandwidth usage of a link can be time-consuming and error-prone.

  • Which network links need the most attention?
  • Is the bandwidth being used for business purposes?
  • Can I downsize a link while maintaining business service quality?
  • How can I demonstrate that an increase in capacity is warranted?

There are three common approaches used to manage network capacity:

  1. Long-range views of average utilization – shows a long-term trend of utilization, but traffic spikes and even brief periods of congestion are hidden by the highly aggregated averages
  2. Peak utilization – shows the days in a month that had a busy minute but doesn’t give insight into the amount of time during which time a link is congested
  3. Traffic usage totals – does not give any indication of congestion except in extreme cases

None of these approaches provides adequate information to make informed decisions.

The Problem With Utilization

Let’s look at an example in which average utilization is used. In this example, I’ve chosen a short time-frame, but it demonstrates the problem with average utilization.

The average utilization over the selected time period, Oct 9 through Oct 14, is approximately 45 percent. By looking at this information one could assume that bandwidth congestion on this interface is not an issue. If we were to use network utilization as a yardstick for bandwidth capacity planning then this interface would most likely not appear on our radar.

TruView Capacity Planning_image1

Data aggregation is at the core of the problem in using utilization for capacity planning. The utilization values in the above chart are aggregated into 2-hour intervals. This means that each point in the report represents an average over a 2-hour timeframe. This aggregation has a smoothing effect on the data that masks high-congestion periods.

To demonstrate the smoothing effect, let’s zoom in on 60-minute timeframe within the time period shown in the above chart. On the afternoon of Oct 11th the utilization peaks at around 80 percent, which is not evident in a 5-day view of the data.

This level of granularity is what is needed to truly understand the network utilization. The problem is that getting this fine level of granularity over a month or a year is not feasible because it requires a vast amount of data to be stored and displayed in order for the real utilization to be visually and quantitatively apparent.

TruView Capacity Planning_image2

There is a Better Way

There is a technique for analyzing network utilization, which Fluke Networks’ products use. It provides more actionable and accurate decision-making information. We call this data Network Burst data. Burst Utilization indicates the amount of time interface utilization is greater than specified thresholds.

By using Burst Utilization you can determine how long the congestion of a link exceeded 80 percent utilization or other utilization thresholds. With this type of information you can make decisions on whether to upsize (or downsize) a link or whether to investigate how the link is being used.

The advantage of Burst Utilization is that if link congestion levels can reported based on 1-minute granularity regardless of the reported time frame, a day, a month, a year, without loss of information fidelity. Contrast this with using average utilization over 15, 30, or 60-minute time ranges, which dampen the utilization trend, and make accurate capacity planning decision very difficult if not impossible.

Network managers typically want to begin to keep an eye on a particular interface when it spends more than 10 percent of time above 80 percent utilization. This translates to a little more than a half day out of a typical workweek. When the utilization burst reaches 20 percent time spent at the 80 percent threshold, i.e. a full work-day, then it may be time to either upgrade the link or investigate how it’s being used.

TruView Capacity Planning_image3

The chart shown above lists the interfaces being monitored and their respective burst data. The color breakdown indicates, for each interface, the time spent over 30 percent utilization (yellow), 60 percent utilization (orange), and 80 percent utilization (red). The interface listed first is obviously in trouble. It is running above at >80 percent utilization all of the time.

Gathering Data to Make a Decision

If we look at Burst Utilization for a given interface we can determine, at a glance, which days of the week and hours of the date are most congested.

TruView Capacity Planning_image4

And then, we can investigate whether the bandwidth is being used for business purposes or for recreational use.

In the chart shown below, it appears that most of the bandwidth is consumed by legitimate business applications. The 1755/TCP application bears further investigation though.

TruView Capacity Planning_image5

When all of this information shown above is accessible in a single solution and in one place in that solution, making bandwidth-sizing decisions can be quick and easy.

Call To Action

The goal of managing network bandwidth is not to report on the utilization of a link over time, but rather to ensure that you are buying the right amount of bandwidth to meet the needs of the business.

Please let me know how you perform bandwidth management:

  • Is WAN capacity management part of your standard process?
  • What tools do you use?
  • What are your biggest challenges in managing bandwidth?

Also, please take a look at Visual TruView from Fluke Networks. That solution can help you with your network capacity management chores, plus it can help you understand whether network congestion issues are indeed causing application performance issues.

Don’t throw bandwidth at the problem. Make informed decisions with the right data.

Review Roundup: Fluke Networks OptiView XG

Today’s Review Roundup zooms in on OptiView XG by Fluke Networks. With dozens of network troubleshooting and monitoring solutions available on the market and listed on IT Central Station, it’s difficult to determine which solution is best for your needs. We’ll look at what some of our real users have to say about OptiView XG and how they’ve implemented it to fit their needs. FlukeNetworks

  • Aaron Kostyu who is Director of IT at a local government says “We have been using the OptiView XG to both monitor the network, and to take into the field when a deeper inspection of a specific component is needed. Its combination of features, easy-to-understand insight tools and reporting capabilities has made it an indispensable solution for the team.” Read his complete review here.
  • Tommy Pruitt who is Vice President at a company with 1-500 employees says “Prior to OptiView XG, we used a variety of tools and packet sniffers, such as Wireshark, to gather information. The manual correlation of data was time consuming and required highly skilled technical engineers. Now, we have one solution that automates all data gathering, presents that information in graphical format, and allows the team to drill down into more detail instantly.” Read his complete review here.
  • Trent Spencer who is a network manager at a local government says “The OptiView XG is always our starting point. It helps collaboration, gives the insights we need to make a case for upgrades or plan for deployments, allows us to test new implementations in real time, and quickly troubleshoot and fix problems as they arise. We look to this device first so we never waste time or money.” Read his complete review here.

Which network troubleshooting and monitoring solutions have you used? Share your experiences with the professional IT community! If you haven’t already, sign up with IT Central Station, browse reviews, follow your favorite products, or write a review of your own!

Review Roundup: SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor

IT Central Station covers a gamut of technology products and services that are used every day to power the business of Fortune 1000 and Global 2000 enterprises. In today’s post, we’ll give you a taste of several real user reviews that have come in for SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor, one of the many network monitoring tools listed on IT Central Station. Here are a few highlights:

SolarWinds

  • User NetmonGuy, who is a Network Engineer at a software r&d company says “Solarwinds NPM has lots of features not found in some other network performance monitoring tools e.g. seamless integration with Microsoft Active Directory.” Read his complete review here.
  • User meu1124, who is Senior Manager of IT at a government organization says “Because data availability is critical to our decision makers and business operations, my team leverages SolarWinds as a central management platform for tracking all the connected resources on our networks and as an Asset Management capability.” Read his complete review here.
  • User nicodiablo, who is a Network Engineer at a manufacturing company says “We are very happy with the performance, features, and pricing, The company is very pro-active, as in adding additional features and being responsive to customer requests.” Read his complete review here.
  • User Aaron Leskiw who is a Network Engineer at a tech consulting company says “NPM is a powerful, scalable network monitoring tool. It has a vast range of features, and a large number of expansion plugins that can add functionality for almost any need.” Read his complete review here.

On IT Central Station, you can read the full reviews of SolarWinds NPM, and other Network Monitoring tools including Zabbix, Nagios, Wireshark, Microsoft SCOM and others.

These are just a sample of the many in-depth reviews you’ll find on IT Central Station. If you haven’t already, sign up, browse reviews and write your own review.

The Weekly Roundup – Wireshark

This week’s roundup explores network monitoring and security software. Let’s find out what people are saying about Wireshark, a free and open-source packet analyzer. It is used for network troubleshooting, analysis, software and communications protocol development, and education. Here are a few highlights:

  • Engnr246 says: “One of the best products that can provide the details of what is happening with an application and the full life cycle of the response time… [but] not always simple to setup and get the filtering right when capturing data.”
  • Techie says: “You can easily analyze each and every packet captured from the network based on protocol types like TCP, IP, UDP, etc.”
  • Mgrntwrk381 says: “[the] GUI layout is user friendly and straightforward, which provides protocol-based color coding and comprehensive graphical representation of raw data.”
  • RonSNunes says: “I’ve been working with Wireshark for a long time, since back in the days when it was still called Ethereal. Since then, there has been no alternative for me for Packet Sniffing. Wireshark does exactly what I want and leaves me with no need to look elsewhere.”

Wireshark was awarded 5 stars by real users. IT Central Station guarantees that all reviews are 100% genuine – not vendors, analysts, consultants or bloggers. We protect the privacy of the consumer community – we validate that the reviewers are real users of the products while ensuring complete anonymity so that you can say what you really think and be heard!

Click here to see what else Wireshark users are saying and share your thoughts.

Are you using other products for Network Monitoring? See what people are saying about AppResponse Xpert, SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor, NetQos Performance Center and many more.

If you haven’t already, sign up with IT Central Station, browse reviews or write a review of your own!

IT Central Station covers a gamut of technology products and services that are used every day to power the business of Fortune 1000 and Global 2000 enterprises.