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New Probes: An Overview

We got a ton of great submissions to our Ultimate Probes Challenge, and we would expect nothing less from the InterMapper community. We’ll highlight a few of them in this post. Feel free to explore the rest of the entries on the InterMapper website.

Riverbed Steelhead WAN Optimization Appliance
This probe monitors Riverbed Steelhead WAN optimizer appliances. It outputs specific Riverbed metrics such as reduction percentage (in/out), reduction amount per port, and number of processes and peered devices.

“The built-in reporting interface for Riverbed is nice, but it’s a pain to have to log into each one individually to get per device status,” explained Xerox’s Stephen McDonald, the creator of the probe. “Riverbed CMC product can do this—but at extra cost of course.”

Spectracom EC20S Epsilon Clock
Peter Wahlberg from Media Netwerk AS in Oslo sent us a probe that monitors parameters for GPS synchronization units. It checks whether a device has signal lock or enough visible satellites, plus it reports on hardware status (power supplies, modules) and provides information about latitude, longitude, altitude, and current time.

Media Netwerk AS uses this probe on its DVB-T SFN network to ensure that devices are synced and TV signals are maintained. The probe notifies them if synchronization is problematic, giving them time to reconfigure it.

Brocade ADX CPU
Debbie Fligor from the University of Illinois submitted a probe that monitors the MP and LP CPU values for a Brocade ADX load balancer. “We needed to monitor (and graph) the CPU for the main processor and especially the BPs, which are the processors that do the L4-7 specialty stuff in the ADX, to ensure that we had licensed enough BPs,” said Fligor. “The solution was to make a probe that gathers those values via SNMP and display them in a useful format.”

MailFoundry Email Filtering Appliances
As its name suggests, this probe monitors MailFoundry email appliances. It examines the HTTP status built into a MailFoundry email security device and looks at parameters such as when antivirus software was last updated and the current utilization of the databases and mail queue.

One of the benefits of this probe is that it enables real-time, unattended monitoring of the system. Otherwise, the only way to check these parameters would be to log in and do so manually.

These are a small sample of the 42 probes we received. I encourage you to check out all our free probes to see if there is one that can work for you. Thanks to everyone for sharing these great probes!

 

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Ultimate Probes Challenge Winner Announced

We recently ran our Ultimate Probes Challenge and the contest exceeded our expectations! InterMapper received 42 validated entries and we selected one grand prizewinner from a random drawing of all contestants.

The probes impressed us with their variety and innovative approaches. InterMapper defines a probe as a software plug-in that provides diagnostics in order to monitor applications and devices, alerting network watchers to potential crashes and problematic devices. A probe can test any endpoint with an IP address.

We’re fortunate that InterMapper users are so devoted to developing and sharing their self-designed probes. Throughout InterMapper history, users have created interesting probes that fill in specific information gaps, and the Ultimate Probes Challenge entries are no exception. And now it’s time, let’s announce our grand prizewinner!

And the Ultimate Probes Challenge winner is . . .

The honor goes to Christopher Howard from the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga. Christopher designed a probe that monitors Aruba Wireless controllers. It was tested with Sup1, Sup2, M3, and 3600 series controllers and works by gathering information such as hardware statistics and client counts. More specifically, it keeps tab on CPU usage and compiles figures for MAC, 802.1x, and captive portal authenticated users. Christopher wrote:

“We needed a way to watch the number of users connected to our wireless. Usually a large drop in the number of wireless users indicates a problem. This probe allows us to chart the number of users and visually see if everything is ok or if there is an issue to investigate.”

As the overall winner, Christopher will receive:
• A 13-inch MacBook Air with 4GB RAM, 256GB flash storage, 4th Gen Intel Core processor with faster graphics, and all-day battery life
• An iPad Air with 16GB storage, 64-bit A7 chip, ultrafast wireless, tons of apps, and 10 hours of battery life
• An Apple TV with support for 1080p streaming of movies and TV shows and viewing of photos from a Mac, PC, or other Internet-connected device

In addition, everyone who entered this year’s Ultimate Probes Challenge gets a T-shirt commemorating their entry in the contest.

Thanks to everyone who submitted a probe to the Ultimate Probes Challenge. Once again, InterMapper users have demonstrated their creativity and ability to create probes that quickly discover issues with devices and the network-at-large. This was such a success for the entire InterMapper community, we just might do it again!

Check out all the contest probes and many more at the InterMapper website
The Ultimate Probes Challenge submissions will be downloadable for free for InterMapper users on the InterMapper website. In our library, you’ll also find a wide range of probes for network monitoring of:
• Applications
• Switches, firewalls, and routers
• Environments
• Servers
• Storage
We validate every probe before making it available to the InterMapper community.

Again, we extend our sincere gratitude to the Ultimate Probes Challenge contestants. Do you have a probe you’d like to share? We’d love to see it! Stay tuned, we’ll be exploring the new probes in future communications.

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How to Create a Probe: Part 2 Webinar

We have heard some great stories about how creative our customers have been, truly monitoring anything with an IP address, so we started talking about how to help more people create their own probes. We set up a webinar hoping a few people might show up. We were wrong. Really wrong.

There was a fantastic turnout, with 208 attendees and a flurry of questions. With all this momentum, clearly we can’t stop now! On Wednesday, we are going to delve into the subject of probes a little deeper.

Creating InterMapper Probes – Part 2

Join us on February 12, from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. CST
(The webinar is now past, so this link will take you to the recorded webinar)

This new webinar will cover:

  • Understanding SNMP MIB files
  • Mibble MIB browser program
  • MIB Viewer probe builder
  • On-demand Tables in SNMP probes
  • SNMP Trap Probe Examples

Just in case you missed the first webinar and want to catch up, here is a review of the material we covered:

Thanks for all your interest in InterMapper probes! As always, please contact us with any questions.

Looking forward to seeing you on Wednesday,

Rich Brown and Pat Cameron

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Create your own masterpiece—win valuable prizes!

As you know, one of the great things about InterMapper is that there is literally no limit to the types of network devices, connections, and conditions that it can monitor. All you need is an IP address.

Perhaps less well known is that you can create your own customized probes. These software plugins can gather data and alert you to all sorts of things, from problem devices and incipient failures to displaying deep, diagnostic information. When one of the hundreds of built-in probes doesn’t match a specific need, users can create their own and share them with the entire InterMapper community.

 

PROBLEM SOLVERS

Our users are creative. They developed environment-monitoring probes to keep track of temperature, humidity, and other variables that affect their network. They monitor servers for disk space, memory utilization, and hardware health. Telecommunications probes check signal status, communications, bit error rates, signal to noise ratios, and AFC levels… just to name a few.

One of our favorite examples is about food. An Arizona school district had power problems that caused freezers to lose power and defrost everything inside. The quick-thinking network administrator purchased and installed temperature-monitoring devices. He then created an InterMapper probe by importing their MIB files. Now, he’s alerted when the temperature in the freezers fluctuates. No more food loss due to power outages!

Take a look at the fantastic probes contributed so far. There might be a probe already created that will solve your problems.

 

THE BUILD-A-PROBE CONTEST

Build your own probe and you can win great prizes! Take the challenge with our first Ultimate Probes Challenge.

Learn more about the Ultimate Probes Challenge:

Get an Ultimate Probes T-shirt just for entering a validated probe! One competitor will win all three prizes below:

  • Apple MacBook Air: 13.3” display, 4GB memory, and 256GB Flash Storage with 4th Gen Intel® Core™ processors with faster graphics, all-day battery life, and even faster flash storage.
  •  iPad Air 16GB: 9.7-inch Retina display, A7 chip with 64-bit architecture, ultrafast wireless, powerful apps, and up to 10 hours of battery life.
  • Apple TV:Watch high-resolution movies and TV shows; view videos and photos from the internet, Mac, or PC in crisp 1080p.
  • Entry deadline February 28, 2014

 

NEVER WRITTEN A PROBE BEFORE?

Building probes can save you time, and help keep your stress levels low. Learn how to create probes at our January 29 webinar (recorded) with InterMapper creator, Rich Brown.

Let us know your challenges, and if you have any stories you’d like to share. For more information on our current probes, or how to build your own, contact us at support@intermapper.com.

Enjoy exploring the possibilities of probes!

Sincerely,

Pat Cameron

 

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New Procera PacketLogic SNMP Probe

We have a new probe that monitors the performance of a Procera PacketLogic packet shaper.

It works as follows:

  • Connections Alarm Threshold is the ALARM threshold for Number of Connections. If the Number of Connections value exceeds this threshold the device will enter the Alarm state.
  • Connections Warning Threshold is the WARNING threshold for Number of Connections. If the Number of Connections value exceeds this threshold the device will enter the Warning state.

Thanks to the University of Victoria for contributing this probe.

This probe can be found in the switch/router/firewall contributed probed section of the InterMapper website.

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Use Flows to Keep Network Traffic Moving

Network traffic analysis has historically been a secondary concern when selecting new hardware. However, as TechTarget noted corporate IT ecosystems, and the threats targeting them, have evolved considerably over the past several years. The emergence of BYOD (bring your own device)” and increasingly sophisticated distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks means that built-in network analysis features are required to maintain performance and security.

Types of flows
Flow analysis is a particularly valuable tool in mitigating high traffic risks because it gives you a detailed idea of what is happening on the network. There are three types of flows that are commonly used to identify trends and spot problems. For each, setting up flow processing requires you to configure a router or switch to act as an exporter, meaning that it will send traffic data to a flow analysis tool.

Netflow
NetFlow is a technology developed by Cisco, and it captures all IP traffic on the network. According to TechTarget, this gives the most accurate representation of network activity since it uses all IP traffic data. However, it can also contribute to increased CPU utilization – exporting at 10,000 flows per second translates to roughly 7 percent additional CPU usage.

sFlow
sFlow only takes a sample of packets that flow through the network. This means that some conversations may be missed, which would limit IT’s ability to spot anomalies when performing detailed analysis. However, sFlow utilizes a dedicated chip to process information and can also be used with legacy network protocols, so it does not result in the same performance hit as NetFlow.

JFlow
JFlow is very similar to NetFlow, but developed by Juniper Networks.

Deciding which of these is the best choice ultimately depends on how you’re going to use it. For compliance auditing and in-depth network analysis, administrators should use Netflow or JFlow because they provide the detail required to spot potentially problematic incidents. sFlow is useful for trend analysis or figuring out who uses the most bandwidth without placing too much strain on the CPU.

Putting the data to use
Flow analysis tools vary significantly in terms of functionality, so it’s important to make sure you’re getting the most for your money. Some key features include:

  • Support for multiple flow protocols
  • Auto discovery
  • Visualizations
  • Granular and high-level data views

These essential features enable administrators to gain more insight into their networks and respond to problems quickly. For instance, using real-time traffic analysis allows you to see spikes in network traffic immediately, while historical data can be used to investigate an issue on a deeper level.

This does not mean that flows should replace other security tools such as firewalls. However, relying entirely on perimeter-based defenses will likely leave security gaps – it is these holes that protocols such as NetFlow, JFlow and sFlow are designed to fill. By analyzing actual network traffic, IT personnel will be able to detect anomalies even when a threat bypasses signature-based detection safeguards.

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InterMapper at Cisco Live 2013

InterMapper at Cisco Live 2013

InterMapper at Cisco Live 2013 – in the Splunk booth

InterMapper demonstrated its InterMapper App for Splunk Enterprise at this years Cisco Live in Orlando. Special thanks to Splunk who hosted us at their in-booth theater.

If you need proactive network monitoring and visual mapping, InterMapper will give you real-time knowledge of your network, affordably and with seamless integration into Splunk.

InterMapper maps and monitors your network hardware, software, and bandwidth, with a high-performance polling engine able to test thousands of devices. The alerting tool allows you to set alarms and escalation procedures on your terms. In addition, the at-a-glance maps generate both broad overviews of your network status and detailed analytics, so that you have the power to proactively detect and solve network issues, easily and efficiently, before they impact users.

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Monitoring the Network at 2013 Cisco Live

InterMapper leads the industry as an easy to install and configure solution to monitor your network.

InterMapper

InterMapper monitors the network at Cisco Live

At the 2013 Cisco Live trade show in Orlando, Cisco employees implemented InterMapper to monitor, map and alert on the trade show network.

With it’s powerful auto-discovery functionality, network performance monitoring can be easily implemented, even for temporary networks.

 

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Creating Probes from a MIB

Tips on Creating SNMP Probes:

Do you have a MIB for your device and want to create a probe? We now have a tool that creates an InterMapper probe automatically from a MIB. Learn more about how to use this tool and how to import the probe into InterMapper.

We use the MIB Viewer page to create a probe quickly when a customer sends an MIB file. Check out the MIB Viewer. The page also has instructions on how to download and run it on your system.

 

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Network Monitoring Best Practices Webinar

Best Practices and Priorities for Network Management
Maximizing Network Up-time with Real-time Network Monitoring

Your IT infrastructure is critical to your organization’s success. As your network complexity increases, so does your risk! One of the ways to mitigate risk is to implement a network monitoring system that can proactively identify, locate, and enable you to fix network problems quickly. Monitoring, mapping and alerting software allows you to collect data to analyze the performance of your network in real-time.

On April 30th, InterMapper hosted a webinar featuring EMA Managing Research Director, Jim Frey, InterMapper Director of Partner Development, John Sutton, and Vail, AZ. School District CIO, Matt Federoff, discussing network monitoring trends and the application of state-of-the-art monitoring tools.

View the webinar to learn how to increase efficiency, reduce costs and mitigate risks by implementing these 5 best practices for better network management:

  • Integrated approaches
  • Automation
  • Visualization
  • Facilitated Workflows
  • Collaboration

 

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