Paessler AG, headquartered in Nuremberg, Germany, was founded in 1997 by Dirk Paessler who had a vision for a better network management solution. That vision has grown into a company that has delivered easy-to-use network monitoring and testing solutions to businesses of all sizes – from Small Office/Home Office (SOHO) organizations to large enterprises, including 70 percent of the Fortune 100 companies. The privately-held firm claims to have sold over 50,000 licenses for its products, with over 150,000 installations. This includes a number of free network monitoring tools that are available for download without charge from the company's website. The Paessler solutions are also available through a worldwide network of resellers; consulting partners who offer consulting services and training on the products; ISP partners that deploy the solutions to assist their own customers; and OEM partners that incorporate the Paessler products into their own systems. Paessler AG remains a privately held company and is recognized as both a Cisco Technology Developer Partner and a VMware Technology Alliance Partner.
Paessler has developed a suite of Windows-based network management tools. The flagship product is the PRTG Network Monitor, a powerful network monitoring solution designed to ensure the availability of network components while also measuring traffic and usage. The product is designed as a continuous network and server monitoring system, that enables problem identification and resolution before a serious threat to business operations ensues. The system features the ability to avoid bandwidth and server performance bottlenecks, deliver a higher quality of service (QoS) to the end users, reduce network costs by only buying bandwidth and hardware based on actual load, not on estimates; and avoid costly downtime caused by undetected system failures.
The PRTG Network Monitor installs on a PC, server or virtual machine with roughly the performance of an average PC built in 2007 or later; running Microsoft Windows 2003, 2008, XP, or Vista; and also having Google Chrome, Firefox 3 or Internet Explorer 7/8 for access to the Web interface. The product covers all aspects of network monitoring, including: up-/downtime monitoring, traffic and usage monitoring, Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) and Cisco System's NetFlow monitoring, and packet analysis.
Three different methods of network usage data acquisition are available. First, both Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) and SNMP can be used to gather bandwidth usage and performance data for all systems within the network, including port-by-port usage data for switches and routers. Secondly, an integrated protocol analyzer can inspect all network data packets traveling in the LAN or WLAN to calculate the bandwidth usage. Finally, high end routers and switches from companies such as Cisco, Hewlett-Packard and Juniper that support NetFlow or sFlow information export for bandwidth usage monitoring can be integrated into the system, thus tying in WAN components to the overall management system.
PRTG Network Monitor supports over 50 different sensor types covering all common network services (such as ping, HTTP, SMTP, POP3, FTP, and so on), which allows the system to monitor the network for both speed and failures. Request times and downtimes are constantly recorded in the database, allowing a compilation of performance, downtime and service level agreement (SLA) reports at any time. Outages that are identified are then alerted by sending emails, SMS, pager messages and other notifications. Support for these sensors is quite broad, and includes Internet protocols TCP/IP, UDP and ICMP; SNMP v1, V2c and V3; Windows Management Instrumentation that can measure CPU load, memory, disk space, event logs, and vital system data.
Analyzed information is presented to the network manager in some very useful graphical formats, including a maps view that displays the network topology (see Figure 1), and a comprehensive view for even very large enterprise networks (see Figure 2).
iPRTG iPhone Application
Another interesting way to receive the network management information is via the iPRTG application, which was announced in September 2009. This innovative application was written for Apple's iPhone, and was developed for network managers that are already using, or plan to use PRTG Network Monitor. The application allows those managers to view the monitored environment and actively manage the monitoring any time, and from anywhere. All relevant data are acquired directly from the central PRTG server, and an intuitive software design makes it possible to make sensor adjustments, view messages, note analysis of alerts and charts, and evaluate results from the iPhone display (see Figure 3). iPRTG is available in the iTunes App Store, and currently sells for $19.95.
The PRTG Network Monitor is available in two versions, a Freeware Edition for both personal and commercial use, plus a Commercial Edition which is required for monitoring more than ten sensors. Licenses for the Commercial Edition start at $380.00.
Further details on the Paessler network management solutions can be found at http://www.paessler.com/. Our next tutorial will continue our examination of vendors' network management architectures.
Copyright Acknowledgement: © 2009 DigiNet Corporation, All Rights Reserved
Mark A. Miller, P.E. is President of DigiNet Corporation, a Denver-based consulting engineering firm. He is the author of many books on networking technologies, including Voice over IP Technologies, and Internet Technologies Handbook, both published by John Wiley & Sons.