In order to diagnose network problems quickly, Loran International Technologies Inc. believes that network administrators need automatically collected, real-time details of the network topology, and the company believes that its Kinnetics Management System can meet those needs.
“We know the physical topology of the network, not the logical topology… it’s the difference of looking at a very detailed road map and a line with six cities on it,” said John Virden, executive vice-president for Loran in Vienna, Va.
“You don’t have to buy a separate event correlation engine, you don’t have to do any event filters, you don’t have to turn traps on. We show you the exact device that’s broken, and not the 100 or more downstream devices of that broken device, although we’ll tell you those devices are in the fault shadow of that broken device,” Virden said.
The software comes on a Web server that, when hooked up to the network and seeded with the IP ranges for that network, goes out and discovers everything on the network using pings and pulls.
“We discover everything on your network down to unmanaged MAC-only devices. We then physically map the
network, showing you all of the connections down to the port level,” said Virden.
Kinnetics then provides a network inventory and exceptions report. The exceptions report details network elements that are not ideal and may cause future performance problems such as duplicate IP addresses, mismatched subnet masks or SNMP devices without SNMP activated. The lines are monitored for utilization, collisions, broadcast and errors, going down to the PVC level for every frame relay link or the equivalent information on ATM, Virden said.
Version 3, due in October, has new features such as Active Reports, which gives real time reports to allow administrators to correlate the map with problematic devices, and a reporting module designed to give upper management information on how the network is performing as a whole.
“From a management perspective, I can see if my network is giving me what I’m paying for and expecting of it,” Virden said.
Barry Brock, director of information technology services for Algonquin College in Ottawa, likes the system because it organizes the “horrendous” amount of information he gets on the eight-campus college network. The network is Cisco-based with about 4,500 PCs, combining fibre and copper.
“We need a network management system to help us troubleshoot and balance our system,” said Brock.
“With [Kinnetics], it’s a matter of picking what information you want to use to manage your network. It is extremely versatile and extremely detailed, and you can set it up basically however you want to.”
Algonquin is using the older version, but beta testing Version 3, and Brock said the testing has been “excellent.” He said he has found no problems with either version.
“I’ve recommended it to a lot of the colleges in Ontario to look at… It’s a very cost effective solution. We’ve looked at a lot of other products from HP, IBM, CA, and by far and away this is the most cost effective solution we’ve been able to come up with for what we need here,” Brock said.
Dennis Drogseth, director of Enterprise Management Associates, also said he hasn’t found any crucial problems with the product. He said it needs to grow towards improved scalability, better reporting, and more extensive repair capabilities, but stressed that these are not faults at the moment.
Drogseth said Kinnetics has strong advantages over similar products in its accuracy and ease of use.
“They’re especially strong in looking at performance issues which are related to other kinds of problems as well, such as a CPU being overloaded, that a certain router is not performing properly, that packets are getting dropped at the other side of a wide area link. It’s quite precise in getting all of that information and then allowing the user to toggle around and set multiple thresholds and play what-if in real time and try to narrow down the problem set and eventually come up with the root cause…
“It’s relatively easy to install. You have to let it run in the site for a little while to let it gather its own knowledge, but there’s minimal human intervention in getting it up and running,” said Drogseth.
Pricing for Version 3 (www.loran.com/products/index.html) had not been fully determined at press time, but Virden said the range starts around US$30,000 for a single server on a 500 device network up to around US$170,000 for an 8000 device network. Loran recommends using multiple Kinnetics servers beyond 8000 devices.
Loran in Ottawa is at 1-800-563-1178.