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Affordable IT: Network Monitoring

The process of checking, logging and notifying is generally accomplished using Ping and SNMP. There are proprietary products and clever ways to determine whether a service is up and running, like running telnet into a device to see if it's still there, but the basics shared by almost every network- management tool are these widely adopted and available methods.

If you're handy with scripting, you can run a Ping or get your own SNMP data without any additional network-management tools, free or otherwise. Ping executables are included in every operating system, including Amiga! SNMP is nearly as ubiquitous.

SNMP offers a huge stockpile of information about everything except what you had for lunch. We won't go into the nitty-gritty details of SNMP and its data structure, called MIB, but you'll find traffic to errors, CPU cycles to OS versions and just maybe the LDL in that BLT (read an SNMP tutorial).

If you've heard that SNMP is a security hole and are concerned about turning it on, you have a couple of choices. To play it safe, you can leave SNMP off, using Ping and maybe SSH to link to switches and servers. But we prefer Option 2: turning SNMP on responsibly.

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