"In minutes this program scanned the remote networks, found all the SNMP-enabled devices, told me what services and software were installed, put them on the map, and drew a nice network structure, all automatically. I didn't know that it would do everything!"
District Technology Officer
Lompoc Unified School District,
City of Lompoc, California, USA
John Farmer, the District Technology Officer, is responsible for integrating the necessary technology into instructional programs to optimize the students' and teachers' activities. However, charged with maintaining the District's WAN network that consists of 19 NetWare, 3 Windows NT and 3 Linux servers, and brings together 16 schools, he soon found himself in need of an affordable out-of-the-box solution for monitoring heterogeneous networks. What he was looking for was the enhanced visibility of network topology and the way to monitor the availability of network services and devices. Another important requirement was the ability to monitor network and sub-network traffic, receive timely alerts of network degradations and failures, and keep track of network inventory from a single location. The rationale behind the project was to eliminate the need for dedicated asset monitoring, and to cut down on time-consuming operations aimed to resolve network problems and improve the Lompoc network reliability.
"I was glad to have my network on clear maps," John Farmer recalls his first use of the NetCrunch map facility. "I got to see things I wouldn't see otherwise. In minutes this program scanned the remote networks, found all the SNMP enabled devices, told me what services and software were installed, put them on the map, and drew a nice network structure, all automatically. I didn't know that it would do everything."
With the whole network at his fingertips, Farmer can tackle the availability, response time and bandwidth issues up front. For example, at a click of a mouse he can check if the email server is operating correctly or diagnose a node. With color-coded icons on the maps representing network devices and services, he gets an instant message about what node and where is malfunctioning, plus he can choose to track all the hosts, or only those on a selected subnet. For John Farmer, this proved to be particularly useful in monitoring specific sub-networks and critical network applications.
"Before NetCrunch I used a couple of minor troubleshooting tools, but none of them gave me the notification feature. With NetCrunch it's different - I can load up a map of any part of the network and let NetCrunch monitor it without my involvement. If something goes wrong on the network, I get an early-warning alert by email or another way (pager, cellular message, SNMP and desktop notifications). The bottom line is that now I don't have to focus on ongoing manual monitoring, plus I can handle the emergency issues way before the user even sees it," Farmer said.
"Most of the monitoring tools focus just on availability issues - they tell you that a host is up or down. But the point is to look ahead." Farmer continues. Without NetCrunch there was no way he could predict the network health - now he can track such vital parameters as memory load or CPU utilization and set up thresholds which trigger an alarm whenever certain utilization variable approaches the dangerous value. This gives him the valuable opportunity to plan capacity or redirect users from the network segments that are likely to fail.
When asked if he would recommend NetCrunch to administrators of heterogeneous networks, Mr. Farmer said: "Yeah, I would for sure... It's great to have its capabilities."
The Lompoc Unified School District is a K-12 district located in the City of Lompoc (county of Santa Barbara, California) and serving the communities of Lompoc, Vandenberg Village, Mesa Oaks, Mission Hills, Vandenberg Air Force Base, and the adjacent rural areas. The District is made up of 16 schools attended by 11,000 students. The Lompoc schools' mission is to offer its students a wide range of premium quality educational programs that would help them successfully master the District's academic standards and enter the labor market as technologically literate individuals.