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Getting Network Visibility a Bit at a Time

Posted by Tony Fortunato on 1/30/15 8:30 AM

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racksAs a consultant I don’t usually get access to my customer’s network management system. Trust me, in many cases I am just fine with that.

When troubleshooting or installing new equipment, I want to gather statistics to ensure that the problem is resolved or the installed equipment is behaving properly and without some kind of network monitoring, a manual process is my only option. Lets face it; telnetting into equipment and looking at port counters is a bit painful at best.

In some smaller networks, my customers are under the impression that network monitoring systems cost tens of thousands of dollars, so go without having one.

When I introduce my customers to MRTG, an open source network monitoring system, eyes light up and people get excited about the possibilities of what value monitoring can provide. MRTG is great way to get started with your network monitoring and when you outgrow it, or need extra features, you now have the guidelines when you go shopping for a new monitoring system. I have clients still only using MRTG for the past 5 years because that’s all they need.

Just a quick review, SNMP monitoring is a great way to get started when monitoring your network devices, but as you evolve and learn about network monitoring in general, you should consider all the other points covering this topic. For example packet captures, monitoring conversation flows, security, etc.

I like MRTG because it is flexible, easy to setup and does not require a ton of RAM or CPU.  I’ve installed MRTG on laptops with a P4 processor and 2 G of RAM and it did the job.

I’ve used MRTG to monitor your typical values like packets, Bytes, bits, errors, etc. But I’ve also used it for some pretty cool stuff, like WiFi RSSI, UPS load and temperature. You can even graph the values in a file.

In this video I show you how to get up and running with a simple MRTG configuration in less than 5 minutes.



Tony Fortunato, CCNA, CFNI, CWI
Sr Network Performance Specialist
The Technology Firm
Getting things to work better - bit by bit-

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Topics: Network Management