Paessler brings back Windows for Network Monitor

Many network management applications are switching from a Windows to a Web interface because administrators want the ability to remotely control systems from anywhere with Internet connectivity.

That’s what Germany’s Paessler AG did last year when it introduced PRTG Network Monitor 7, a merger of its Traffic Grapher and IPCheck Server Monitor tools. However, a number of customers pined for the Windows GUI.

Later this month when version 7.2 is released, their wishes will be realized because a Windows GUI option will be one of the 500 new features or improvements.

“It’s better for managing really large installations of PRTG,” Thomas Timmermann, manager of sales and marketing, said from the company’s headquarters in Nuremberg. The Windows client can be installed on any PC in the organization, he pointed out, as well as be accessed from outside the organization. It can also give a more precise representation of Network Monitor’s graphics.

Founded in 1995 by CEO Dirk Paessler, the company is not one of the bigger names in network monitor applications, although half of its sales come from the U.S. Only five per cent of sales come from Canadian customers. The network monitoring market is dominated by IBM’s Tivoli, HP OpenView, CA eHealth and Microsoft Operations Manager.

Paessler’s tools are mainly sold though managed service providers and from Softchoice. But it is trying to make a bigger dent in Canada and the U.S., recently hiring Ken Sanofsky as Los Angeles-based general manager.

Network Monitor performs up and downtime monitoring, traffic and usage monitoring, SNMP, NetFlow and packet sniffing. Alerts can be sent by e-mail, SMS, pager messages and other notifications.

Among the changes in version 7.2 – now in beta – are new quality of service and IP SLA sensors. According to Timmermann, they do more than VoIP monitoring. They can also monitor video streams, he said, keeping an eye on jitter packet loss and packet delay.

Also new is an Amazon CloudWatch sensor, which will be appreciated by organizations using the Amazon hosted cloud environment. A Microsoft Hyper-V sensor joins the VMware monitor introduced in an earlier version, to expand users ability to monitor virtualized servers. Timmermann said these sensors will help administrators find out whether a physical or a virtual server is a cause when an application fails.

An sFlow sensor has been added, while the NetFlow sensor has been upgraded to version 9.

While the Windows interface is renewed, the Web interface hasn’t been left alone. Now administrators can change the frequency of all ping sensors in one step. For those with thousands of devices who have had trouble in Network Monitor seeing everything on a schematic in standard view, there’s now an “S” view (for small), which allows the creation of groups of devices.

The map view, which can show sensors across the world or by region has been improved through the ability to import JPG maps. Administrators can also rotate through a series of maps.

Finally, the application’s reporting has been honed by giving the capability to automatically create “top 100” lists (such as the top ping sensors).

Version 7.2 will be released Sept. 15. Pricing hasn’t been finalized, but a company spokesman said there will be a slight increase from the existing schedule. It currently comes in five editions, with pricing based on the number of sensors. They range from the US$295 Professional edition has 100 sensors, to the US$6,525 unlimited sensor Enterprise edition for multiple sites. NetFlow sensors are extra and are priced at one licence per device.

A 10-sensor free version of PRTG Network Monitor is also available for download.

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