NetVigil Sees All

Fidelia offers WLAN monitoring along with top-notch reporting and stats.

August 19, 2003

4 Min Read
Network Computing logo

NetVigil comes with two ready-to-use accounts. The local user/administrator account enables NetVigil's daily operation. The super user account lets you change sitewide thresholds and privileges, and create containers. Separating devices into containers makes it easy and intuitive to sort out business groups and view information and statistics on each device. As the super user, I created a few administrator roles for the system and set up separate containers to hold routers, switches, as well as Unix, Windows and wireless devices.

Inside the GUI

When system admins log on, they are greeted with an easy-to-use Web interface, which lists the devices being monitored and provides menus that lead to device status, reports and management options. To populate the system with devices to monitor, I used NetVigil's autodiscovery feature--a time-consuming procedure that involved working through a command line. First I created a file of SNMP community strings and a file of devices I wanted to discover. Then I ran a discovery script file that parses through the files and searches for devices to populate the Web interface.

If autodiscovery isn't your thing, you can add individual devices to be managed within the Manage section of the Web interface. Simply provide the device name, IP address and SNMP community string. NetVigil has 12 tests--including those for SNMP, ping, port, RADIUS--that discover which services are running. For example, after doing an SNMP discovery on an Alteon switch or other infrastructure device, NetVigil set up monitor categories for interface utilization and interface bytes received. Interval polling schedule and thresholds can be changed in the same menu if necessary. Additionally, NetVigil can create custom tests for almost any computing situation using regular expressions.

WLAN MonitoringVersion 3.6 offers predefined tests only for Cisco access points, but NetVigil also works on any MIB II compliant AP and will report interface statistics for the wired port. Reports include number of roaming nodes, number of stations connected, encapsulation and decapsulation errors, WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) mismatch metrics and SSID (Service Set ID) mismatch. NetVigil thoroughly monitors specifics on Cisco APs, but if your enterprise has rolled out a non-Cisco AP, the reports will be less detailed.

Alert Notification

You can set up notifications and actions via the super user account and have them generated via e-mail, SNMP traps, external scripts or opening trouble tickets in Remedy. Severity level and administrative roles are assigned and can be manipulated, as can the specific information sent to administrators. For notification, I set up e-mail and SNMP traps, which are displayed on the main status page of the Web interface. Each administrator can assign device notification to users.

NetVigil separates alerts into three categories: network, system and application. Once an alert is fired, the category icon changes from a green "OK" symbol to a red "!!" symbol. By selecting the device with the problem, you can drill down to the tests that are creating the alerts. If a device displays a "critical" alert, you can troubleshoot by doing a quick ping, tracing route or nslookup, or gathering the device's SNMP OID (Object Identifier) information.

In-Depth Reports

NetVigil's crown jewels, its reports and statistical information, provide details on fault management, performance/capacity planning and SLAs (service-level agreements). Despite the huge amount of information NetVigil stores, reports are displayed in an easy-to-read format and categorized appropriately. NetVigil provides two types of canned reports: technical summaries and business-impact reports. The technical summaries include CPU utilization, packet loss, active network interfaces and performance. Data collection is based on SNMP MIB II, and NetVigil includes Host MIB right out of the box. Each graph can be drilled down to view more details, such as 95th percentile stats, standard deviation, trend analysis, historical graphs and raw data. This wealth of information should be enough to please every technogeek in your office.

The business reports, including performance summaries, routerperformance information and a list of the devices that fire the most alerts, are designed with the nontechnical user in mind and are much more concise than the technical summaries. I believe business users could use more graphs and trend analysis information, so I created a new report tailored for upper management and CIOs, targeting specific routers, switches and servers that directly affect end users and simulating a shopping-cart application. It worked like a charm--reports were issued as configured.Occasionally during my tests, the canned business report caused my Internet Explorer 6.0 browser to freeze, and Fidelia representatives couldn't solve the problem. Information stored for the reports are kept in the system indefinitely, however, so as long as you have disk space, information will be retained.

Andy Woods is a computer scientist for a federal law enforcement agency. Write to him at [email protected].

Post a comment or question on this story.

Stay informed! Sign up to get expert advice and insight delivered direct to your inbox

You May Also Like

More Insights