Nuremberg, Germany-based Paessler AG, which has had a sizable customer base in North America for its PRTG Network Monitor software, has gotten with the times and added to its latest version (version 7.2) new modules for monitoring the health and performance of IP voice and video connectionsfor both Cisco-based networks and those running other brands of networking gear.
Enterprise VoIPplanet spoke with Ken Sanofsky, Paessler's general manager for North America, who filled us in on the basic product architecture:
"We have two elements," Sanofsky said: "We have the core engine, where our code runs on a server, and then we have a local probe attached to that server for monitoring the network that that server's attached to."
Remote probes (standalone PCs running a small piece of additional code) do the actual monitoring, using what Paessler calls 'sensors.' The probes collect data from the various network devices and forward it to the core engine, via secure SSL.
Paessler offers some 50 different sensor types: SNMP sensors for switches, routers, and other networking infrastructure, sensors for monitoring serversincluding POP, IMAP, and Exchange mail serverseven sensors that function in virtual environments, such as VMWare.
Probes can be installed in every location where they are needed. "It could be for a single company or for multiple companiesso it's perfect for an MSP who needs to monitor multiple customer networks," Sanofsky said.
"We have a credential-based login system, so that the remote probes are all set up with user accounts, with logins and passwords for each. So that an MSP customer would log in and only see their information."
The new sensors for monitoring voice and/or video over IP performance are an IP SLA [service-level agreement] sensor, for use with Cisco hardware, and a QoS [quality of service] sensor, for use with other brands of networking gear.
Sanofsky explained that while, typically, collecting IP SLA data from a Cisco routerthe boxes with the feature that generates such data generally are the more expensive routers that run near the core of the networkrequires a powerful dedicated PC. With PRTG Network Monitor, the PC in question doesn't necessarily have to be powerful, and can serve other applications simultaneously.
Moreover, the IP SLA sensor and QoS sensors are an integral part of the product, not extra cost add-ons. In general, Paessler prides itself on great value for the price, delivering a complete software package, and not nickel-and-diming for extra features. In response to a direct query from Enterprise VoIPplanet, Sanofsky estimated that deployment of many competing products to cover the network of a distributed company with five locations would run to "tens of thousands of dollars." A comparable Paessler deploymentcovering five disparate locationswould probably be "under two thousand," according to Sanofsky.