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October 14, 2013 / Infinet Network Solutions

Maximising Up-time with Real Time Monitoring

Real time monitoring is important for any business that wishes to have their IT systems running as efficiently as possible. Used correctly, it can give you true visibility of every aspect of your network and system health.

Firstly lets start with what it is and what it does.

Real time monitoring, as used in IT networks, is a solution that gives you full visibility of all systems and the devices plugged into it. So you can see exactly what is going on at any given time. As a result,  you can see where problems begin and end, making fault isolation much easier and much faster to carry out. Administrators can be alerted of any potential problems and act quickly to resolve them.

IT faults can sometimes be rather strange and begin from something as innocent as an end user downloading the wrong executable file or a subsystem getting stuck in an endless loop which then affects the rest of the network. If you have the ability to see what is going on in real time you can then isolate and address these issues before they cause an outage.

Historically, having a real time monitoring solution in place used to be mainly found in enterprise sized networks because there simply is not another way to monitor the networks health but thankfully these technologies have trickled down to SME targeted solutions over the last 5-10 years and some of these are very good as well as free.

We currently use and recommend PRTG Network Monitor which is a paid product but it can be installed on Windows computers and managed from a web interface so no Linux skills are required, unlike free products like Nagios. It also means that updates come through regularly and it is easy to get help with configuration and any issues you may have.

  • It is a small download and installs in a few minutes. You can then use the auto-discover feature to find the devices on your network and create the sensors in PRTG.
  • There’s multiple user interfaces to choose from; web browser is the most common but there is also the Enterprise Console which is a Windows application, a cut down HTML only browser interface and apps for iOS and Android for easy monitoring on the go.
  • PRTG can monitor just about anything you can think of on your network and has many out-of-the-box sensors to help take the pain out of configuration.
  • Alerts can be sent out via a variety of methods like emails, SMS and alarms and are fully configurable so you can set limits, thresholds, conditions etc.
  • Clustering is possible with PRTG installations so your monitoring is always available.
  • Remote Probes can be used to monitor networks in different locations or separated within your company.
  • Reporting is made easy with many built in templates that can be scheduled and made available in HTML or PDF format

Here are a few screen shots

OpManager by ManageEngine is another popular monitoring product that is similar to PRTG and is highly acclaimed and with a free trial period, it is well worth testing in your environment. It is priced very competitively and if you use any of ManageEngine’s other products, then you could negotiate for an additional discount. There is a live demo available for this product which you can access from here – http://demo.opmanager.com/old/

There are many advanced features and there are add-ons to expand the functionality further. For more information, head over to the website – http://www.manageengine.com/network-monitoring/

The last one i would like to briefly cover is HP Systems Insight Manager. This differs from the above products because it is specifically for managing HP servers and storage. Here are the key benefits as listed on the HP website:

Inventory Mangement and Reporting

  • HP Systems Insight Manager discovers and identifies devices and stores inventory data in a database
  • Users can generate pre-defined reports or create customer-defined reports where they can edit, copy, and delete report configurations
  • Reports can be scheduled and emailed as needed
  • Contract and warranty reports also available when HP Systems Insight Manager is integrated with Insight Remote Support

Health Management

  • HP Systems Insight Manager provides proactive notification of actual or impending component failures
  • Users can configure policies to execute scripts, forward events, and notify appropriate users of failures
  • Enables Agentless Health Management for the latest HP ProLiant servers

Firmware and System Software Updates Management

  • HP Systems Insight Manager integrates with HP Smart Update Manager for agentless firmware update distribution
  • Users can configure, track and manage baselines without the need of an agent installed on the managed system

Infinet Network Solutions recommends HP servers and storage for this reason and many more.

Contact us today to find out more on how real time monitoring can protect your business.

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