PacketTrap Networks, Inc., headquartered in San Francisco, California, was founded in 2007 in order to ease the pains associated with network management, and reduce the new burdens being placed on IT infrastructures, such as VoIP, SaaS (Software as a Service) and virtualization applications.
The company is firmly committed to open source software, with the belief that many commercial network management firms have not built effective bridges between their solutions and open source projects. Accordingly, one of its primary goals is to ensure that open source applications will easily integrate into the PacketTrap solutions.
The company’s offering was built principally to address mid-size businesses, although it scales well for enterprises up to 50,000 devices. With only 20 employees, this venture-capital–backed company presently claims over 50,000 corporate users in over 100 countries; its customer list includes such organizations as Allstate Insurance, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Boeing, Oracle, Proctor & Gamble, UCLA, and more than 25 school districts nationwide.
PacketTraps’s network management solution, named Perspective,is billed as a comprehensive solution. It is designed as a next-generation network management platform that integrates troubleshooting, diagnostics, remediation, monitoring, reporting, and alerting capabilities into a single dashboard.
It is best known for being very easy to use, yet providing comprehensive reporting—including features such as QoS analysis for VoIP, traffic analysis, and configuration management. The product’s designers claim that this solution can be installed in less than 15 minutes, followed by an auto-discovery process that identifies all the network devices, and provides a complete set of attributes for each device, including hardware, software applications, processes, and services.
PacketTrap also bills its Perspective solution as the only product in its class that provides a differentiated set of capabilities coupled with multiple deployment options.
The Local Software Installation provides a data center/remote office configuration. The SaaS Offering is for customers that want PacketTrap’s data center to host their management solution, allowing them to manage their networking infrastructure from any location. A Cloud Network Monitoring/Management solution permits customers to host the software in a third-party cloud, and then monitor their network across data centers and locations. The Agent and Agentless offering provides a more granular level of inspection of network and application activity, and deploys probes that are installed on individual servers or virtual machines. Performance data can be retrieved using SNMP (the Simple Network Management Protocol). Finally, Browser or Client Accessprovides for a local client installation that allows access to network activity from a browser interface.
The solution includes several key features supporting VoIP network management:
- Monitoring Dashboards provide visibility into network performance, fault management, and device availability across any size of network. This interface provides a summary display of key performance indicators, including network interface traffic, latency, packet loss, and event logs, which expose troubled devices and network segments (see Figure 1).
- Performance Baseline automatically analyzes the collected data to identify changes in network behavior, and then represents the regular and expected activity of a device and network. This baseline continuously logs subsequent device activity, comparing it to the baseline, and if any irregular activity is detected, produces an alert to guide the troubleshooting process (see Figure 2).
- Smart Policies recommends optimal monitors and data collection settings for all devices that are discovered on the network, with policies that encompass all devices, monitors, alerts, and scheduled tasks.
- Remote Agentis designed for organizations with multi-site networks. This feature provides secure connectivity between headquarters and any number of remote sites. The Agent can also take commands from the Perspective console, enforcing policies and executing actions.
- Report Interface enables both real-time and historical reports to be generated from either single or multiple devices, and then further drill down into specific time periods or events to identify the root cause of a network failure. A report scheduler allows users to email reports on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.
For example, with VoIP-specific applications, the product collects parameters essential to VoIP performance—including jitter, packet loss, latency, and MOS (mean opinion score)—in real-time and then seamlessly integrates this information with its network management capabilities, giving users combined voice and data networks visibility.
Further details on the PacketTrap architecture and products can be found at www.packettrap.com. Our next tutorials will wrap up our examination of vendors’ network management architectures, and provide a Buyer’s Guide for those that are shopping for solutions.
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.