Friday, April 1, 2016

Spiceworks Network Monitor Test

Spiceworks Network Monitor Test
The Spiceworks Network Monitor is a powerful network monitoring software, which includes a set of advanced features that greatly suffice the needs of small and medium enterprises. With Network Monitor, Spiceworks is still within its great tradition of providing high quality software available to everyone, free as long as you accept display ads in some corner of your panels. After downloading Spiceworks Network Monitor and you will be creating an account, you join the Spiceworks community and you exchange with thousands of fans and experts, who have the common mascot a Tyrannosaurus Rex orange, called "SpiceRex".

Compared to other platforms like LogicMonitor, Spiceworks Network Monitor is not the monitoring software the most comprehensive network market, but it is surprisingly powerful for a free tool, remember. The functions are well chosen and the program demonstrated high reliability, which contrasts well with other tools of the same kind appeared recently as Datadog. If you have questions, you will not find only telephone support number: the Spiceworks community is always there to help. In addition to these exchanges with other users, the publisher also offers technical support even if the software remains free on the line.

At present, the main limitation of Spiceworks Network Monitor is that it only works with Windows machines. But it supports other hand a wide range of network devices as long as they are compatible with versions 1 or 2 of SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol). Linux support is planned for this year (already found the ability to monitor Linux servers in the beta version of Network Monitor), as well as compatibility with version 3 of SNMP. Network Monitor monitors network infrastructure devices such as hubs and routers, indicating in particular their flow in / out, the number of exchanged packets per second and the number of lost packets. It follows the servers (and, as a bonus, the Windows workstations) in terms of CPU usage, disk space occupied, rate of data transfer, packet loss and memory usage. You can also visually detailing each of these parameters, in the form of extensive views. However, Spiceworks Network Monitor does not monitor and does not address other devices, especially mobile devices.

Although Spiceworks Network Monitor distils excellent basic monitoring information, several features missing, such as separate values ​​for each port hubs. Spiceworks is also reseller of extensions developed by several publishing partners (besides advertising is the company's money to the main entrance) that integrate seamlessly into the Network Monitor application. But if you only need basic elements, you get a free solution 100%.

Deploy Solution
As part of our testing, we used Spiceworks Network Monitor to monitor the activity of Cisco IOS hubs and to oversee the health of a number of Windows workstations. If Spiceworks indicates that Network Monitor works with Windows Server, the software is also capable of processing machines under Windows 7. For that monitoring takes place, you must enable SNMP and Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) on machinery to supervise. Alas, Network Monitor is not yet capable of supporting Windows 10 at this time, we expect that the latest version of Microsoft's operating system will be quickly integrated into the solution.

We were also able to collect information on Ruckus ZoneDirector WLAN controller 1200 and the concentrator D-Link DGS-3627. Spiceworks Network Monitor is also able to connect to some more anecdotal network devices for which you only get very limited information. For example, we were able to monitor the status of an APC UPS SmartUPS 1500, but since Spiceworks Network Monitor is not able to analyze in detail the power supplies, one must be content to know s' it is on or not.

It is easy to add other devices to the monitoring application. To add a device, click the Add button switch on the dashboard. then simply indicate to Spiceworks Network Monitor the host name or IP address and the level of accessibility that on most devices is "public". After a slight delay related to the initial connection, the application begins the monitoring of this new network device.

Add a new server (or workstation under Windows 7) is more complicated sentence. As with any device, you first click on the dashboard and click the "Add Server" button and you enter the host name or IP address. You then specify the username and password. As part of our testing, we tested a series of servers running Windows Server 2012 R2 and the connection is made instantly.

When connecting each server or device, an animated diagram appears on the dashboard, in the corresponding section. For servers, the chart shows the activity of the disks, memory usage and CPU and network activity. The diagram of the concentrator, for example, displays the input speed / output, the number of exchanged packets per second and the number of lost packets. This grouping of further details is called a "Watchlist" and you will find for each device of this type. You can further explore specific devices through the "Critical Device Widgets" Spiceworks. You can select up to three devices or servers and display their details and diagrams on the dashboard, in the area Watchlist.

Spiceworks Network Monitor Test

If you need further details, you can click on one of the parameters in the window Critical Device: the corresponding parameter appears on the screen, with a series of additional information. For example, clicking on one of the Cisco concentrator, it is possible to examine the exact value of the use of bandwidth, with more extensive statistics for each time it has changed considerably.

You can achieve a similar result with diagrams on Watchlist section. Mouse over any animated graphic with the mouse to discover the corresponding values. Click the name of a device or server to access a full page, with detailed results on the performance of this element. This is handy if you have noticed, on a first diagram, a significant increase in the level of activity of a device: Here you can confirm the value you noted. The scale of the graphics is calculated automatically, low value can sometimes feel like a big change of activity on the dashboard.

Despite the impressive capabilities of Spiceworks Network Monitor, it presents some limitations. For example, the alert thresholds are defined globally and you can not adapt to each parameter. This means that you will receive e-mail notifications about events that are not critical. In particular, we received an alert activity on the disk when one of the monitored machine began to make backups, for example. However, you can control the way in which Spiceworks Network Monitor sends alerts by e-mail; if such an alert occurs on the dashboard, so you do not necessarily need to receive a personal message.

The other major limitation concerns the supported operating systems: at present, only the beta version of Spiceworks Network Monitor supports Linux servers. This is likely to change rapidly, and you should be able to benefit from the next version of the application. You will find that as many references to the beta on the dashboard, so you can fully test it and you include news coming on the sidelines of this new compatibility with the Linux ecosystem. Spiceworks however announced that the official documentation does not reflect yet all these innovations. In general, be aware that Network Monitor knows regular updates stay tuned for latest fixes and changes to supervise the better your entire network.

Spiceworks Network Monitor is thus emerging as a very simple application to use, studded with interesting features, which marries the needs of most small businesses. You do not need to be a professional network engineer to implement the solution, or to be a computer expert to use it everyday. However, remember that Network Monitor monitors the operation of your network, so you must understand schematically the architecture of your own network and some of the most common events related to it to make the most. But interactive graphics are intuitive enough for any user to be able to identify cases where a server or device requires attention. And Ultimate, which should finally convince you: the app is free.

PLUS: free application, extensible through other tools (for a fee), good basic monitoring, easy to use and understand

LESS  : Only supports Windows work stations and servers (Linux in beta)

PRICE  : Free

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