Fluke aims monitor at big networks

Fluke aims monitor at big networks

Network software company Fluke next month will unleash a more grown-up version of its network monitoring software - one that discovers network devices, creates diagrams with Visio software and notifies network managers of problems via e-mail or pager.

The current version of Fluke's Network Inspector is limited to a single Ethernet segment and is designed to help companies troubleshoot network problems.

The upcoming Version 4.0 will expand that troubleshooting capability to larger, switched networks.

The software watches networks for certain glitches, such as routing loops, duplicate IP addresses and bad interface cards, said John McConnell, president of McConnell Associates in Colorado.

'It's not like [Network Inspector] can solve everything, but it can solve the top problems,' he said.

At $US4000, the Windows- and Windows NT-based software is priced reasonably compared to competing products, McConnell said.

Version 4.0 costs more than five times as much as the current edition, but the new version has many more features, including the ability to discover devices throughout a network automatically. Plus, if users have Visio software, Network Inspector 4.0 can use the software to create a network diagram.

'You probably didn't need much of a layout when you were just looking at a single segment,' McConnell said.

As Fluke starts to take on the enterprise, it needs a tool like Visio's to provide network managers with a way to visualise the network. Visio will ship its Visio 2000 Enterprise Edition by years' end.

Like many other management tools, Network Inspector 4.0 will also notify network managers by pager or e-mail if network performance becomes too slow. Network managers can set thresholds for utilisation, collisions or errors. When a threshold is exceeded, the tool sends a message.

Fluke will also make available a new plug-in for Network Inspector specifically designed to look at switches. Switch Inspector looks at traffic statistics on each switch port, and reports on which ports are the most heavily used.

What the company still needs to do is to give Network Inspector the capability to look at services, given that companies are handing over more pieces of their network to service providers, McConnell says.

Network Inspector 4.0 is scheduled to ship on November 8.

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