Monitoring, maintaining and troubleshooting networks with 50 devices (for example) is an arduous daily task. Without network management tools, network administrators spends numerous hours to maintain the network while at the same time needs to handle some administrative things assigned by their boss, this create inefficiency usage of manpower and will increase the turn over rate due to immense work stress handled by network administrators, company will have to re-hire and re-orientate newly employed network administrators to replace those who have resigned, this will also cause company to loss money instead of saving money on network management tools.
Most of the network management tools have alert options that will alert relevant personnel when a network outage occurs, alerts can be sent via sms or email.
Vendor neutral NMS provider. Comes with several flavours and has several free monitoring tools for Cisco devices.
Free Solarwind tools:
I discourage network engineers to use subnet calculator, knowing how to calculate subnet is a foundamental thing to do.
Other free Solarwind tools can be found at http://www.solarwinds.com/
You can be certified to be proficient with Solarwind products too, click here to find out more.
More information on Cisco NMS can be found here. I am listing the more common one which I have encountered:
CiscoWorks is not effective for non-Cisco devices monitoring, it is designed to work with Cisco devices, if you need to monitor non-Cisco devices you can add Solarwind tools as a monitoring tool.
2. Cisco netManager 1.1 IP Infrastructure
When you purchase Cisco netManager it is a perpetual license i.e no renewal or subscription is needed to retain the license. This solution is easier to use than CiscoWorks, it is designed for up to 250 cisco devices, several licenses are sold you can upgrade your current license with a fee. For IP infrastructure you can monitor cisco devices (routers and switches) and APs, there are 50 devices and 50 APs license and 100 devices and 100 AP license, other licensing options are available as well use the dynamic configuration tool to choose the license that suits your organization.
3. Cisco netManager 1.1 Unified communication
This edition is similar to the IP Infrastructure, except it also supports IP phones monitoring. Licensing is similar, use the dynamic configuration tool to choose the appropriate license that suits your organization needs.
Free cisco tools:
1. Cisco configuration professional
This is a free tool which you can choose as an option when you are ordering cisco routers or switches. Again use dynamic configuration tool to choose if you want this software to be preloaded into the flash or not.
2. Cisco configuration assistant
This software and the CCP above are softwares replacing the old SDM version 2.5, SDM has discontinued and replaced by these two tools which are free. CCA is more for configuring Cisco switches, from the dynamic configuration tool you can choose whether you want to include this software as a cd or preloaded into the flash of the switch.
Cisco netmanager’s Cisco device discovery software is using Whatsup Gold to discover the devices.
The product by IPSwitch is known as WhatsUp Gold, a vendor neutral NMS.
WhatsUp Gold options can be found here.
Castle Rock Computing
Vendor neutral network monitoring tool. Information about SNMPc can be found here. If you purchase Allied Telesis routers and switches and want to buy a NMS software to manage the AT devices, AT representative will sell you SNMPc. I have used SNMPc when I was working in NOC environment in an ISP, that software was underutilized, we did not use the network discovery feature, the reason to use SNMPc is to control enduser’s devices via snmp, and also to monitor some VoIP traffic while enduser was making a call.
PRTG Network Monitor is this company’s flagship product, it presents your network devices’ health in a graphical manner makes your management and monitoring easier to analyze. It does come with a freeware version, but the free PRTG network monitor supports only 10 sensors which obviously is not enough.
Multi Router Traffic Grapher
MRTG is a free network monitoring tool under GNU license, similar to PRTG it presents your network health and statistics in a graphical manner making your monitoring and analysis easier. It works in Linux, Unix, Windows and MacOS. Setting up this is not easy, as you need to have MySQL and Perl knowledge to customize this tool according to your needs.
Similar to MRTG and PRTG, Cacti presents network health over a graphical manner, Cacti is free under GNU license and is written in PHP, this can be installed in Unix, Linux and Windows. There is an installer packaged with this tool for Windows users making setting up Cacti easier than MRTG, knowledge of MySQL and PHP is preferred to customize this tool.