Keeping Your Network Safe & Under Control

Keeping Your Network Safe

What is the current state of your network? How about your servers? Firewalls and switches?

If you manage a sizeable network and don't have anything in place, then you are asking for trouble. If you do, maybe that solution works for you, maybe not!

A good IT administrator needs to have some sort of system in place that helps monitor and keep track of the network and its components at all times. Always better to be proactive instead of reactive, right?

I personally have used a few Windows solutions and Linux solutions, but I would have to say that the majority of my experience has been Linux based. Some were decent, but others not so much. In the beginning, getting these products set up and configured took a little finesse, lots of caffeine, and a little luck. Fortunately, over the years these products have matured very well with their functionality and ease of use!

There are a number of solutions out there. Some good. Some bad. I'm not telling you which ones are better or worse. That decision I will leave in your capable hands from hard work and diligence. The majority of products have feature sets that are similar. In deciding what you need it comes down to three factors for me:

  • Features
  • Ease of Use
  • Cost

Wrap together the right combination of those items and you will have yourself a winning package that makes your job easier and helps you look like a winner to everybody else.


What I would like to present is a nice open source Linux solution called Nagios. This product runs on a Redhat or CentOS physical box. They do also offer VMware and Virtual PC images preloaded and ready to deploy. Once configured properly, this product helps monitor all the devices on the network giving you the feedback and insight needed. From there you can take all that info to proactively stop problems before they start or have a game-plan for future expansions and upgrades. Nagios monitors a variety of systems and software.

  • Email
  • Windows and Linux Servers
  • Websites
  • Vmware hosts
  • Network switches and routers
  • Firewalls
  • SQL

Let's take this a step further and cover this a little more in depth. Nagios will let you see just exactly how your various hardware is doing. For example: disk and memory usage on servers and desktops; monitor logs from servers for issues and problems; look at firewalls and switches for traffic flow and attacks.

Graphs and reports to help show patterns that can help predict usage of devices, which can then help determine upcoming issues or see how your utilization is of devices to plan for upgrades and growth.

Wait! What about notifications you say? Can't be without those, right?

Nagios doesn't leave you hanging there. It supports email notifications and SMS notifications to keep you in the know about your equipment even when you not on-site.

The Nagios product line covers a variety of products that extend the monitoring discussed in this article. Log analyzing, network analyzing, automation, and incident management are among a few of the extra products that help extend the functionality. With a well-rounded line of products, you should be able to achieve clear and concise information to fully handle a network and its issues! It's up to you to decide if you need a little or you need a lot.

So, with all this in mind, what kind of monitoring do you use today?

Image courtesy of Flickr

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