In a move that will help network administrators locate specific user end nodes that might be causing problems, SolarWinds has announced the SolarWinds User Device Tracker. The software works by taking an IP address, host name or Media Access Control (MAC) address, and then responding with information about the device, such as the switch name, port, port description or and the virtual LAN on which it’s located. In addition, network administrators can set up a notification alert for when a specific device connects to the network, which can be useful in helping protect against security incidents such as network intruders.
"Understanding exactly what’s going on and what’s attached to the network has always been an essential part of operations," says Jim Frey, managing research director for Enterprise Management Architects. Switch port tracking is the core capability, and there have been a number of techniques to do this over the years, ranging from software to hardware appliances, he says. The functionality is important for recognizing what devices are in use, for capacity planning and for trying to figure out where the user is attached to the network for troubleshooting purposes. "It’s a step beyond what you would get from a network management product, which usually doesn’t go to the end node, but to the network device. To figure out who is at an endpoint, you need something like this."
There are many reasons why network administrators need to be able to find a particular device, says Sanjay Castelino, VP of product marketing for the Austin, Texas, company. Examples include finding a lost device or locating a device that may have been associated with some sort of security incident. In addition, the software can track where devices have been located historically, such as for complying with a court order asking where a particular device had been located on a particular day, he says.
Other features in the software include the ability to view individual ports per switch, reclaiming unused ports and avoiding unnecessary and expensive switch purchases, as well as discovering switches that are operating near full capacity. In addition, network administrators can schedule automatic network discovery and device watch lists to monitor new switches on the network and to be notified when a specific device connects to the network, allowing network administrators to respond to network threats and events.
The software is available now. Another change for SolarWinds is that it typically has sold its products as modules of its network management product. Now, it is beginning to offer products as separate modules that don’t require the underlying platform, says Castelino. Pricing is based on the number of ports being managed, but on a tier basis rather than on an individual port basis, starting at $1,795 for up to 2,500 ports and going up from there, he says. The company is about 12 years old and sells network management products--including applications and server management, storage management, virtualization management and network performance management--to its approximately 100,000 customers.
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