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Monday, 14 December 2020 11:40

SolarWinds NTA puts the network admin's finger on the networking pulse

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REVIEW PROMOTION The network has always been important, and even more so in this day of cloud computing and working from home. When something goes wrong, how do you even begin to track down what you can't see? You use SolarWinds® NetFlow Traffic Analyzer (NTA).

Every internal IT team has heard the words "the network's slow." Sometimes it's "thought you should know, the network was slow last week. Why?"

The network is such an important part of every enterprise, and even most businesses and homes, too. The rise of cloud computing over the last decade has made operating systems largely irrelevant and turned spend from on-premises servers and software to higher-grade, more capable, and yet more complex networking technologies and bandwidth, such as SD-WAN.

With this comes the problem of monitoring, management, and fault-finding. It's easy to tell if a server is up, CPU and RAM usage, and disk activity. It’s less easy to decipher the constant stream of traffic conversations passing through diverse network edges and destined for the internet.

I've certainly been in the position where something is going on and it's been my role right then to figure this out. Is it malicious in nature? Is it a service-provider fault? Is it a noisy app or faulty device inside the network? Where do you even begin?

While there's barely a network appliance winning acclaim for the depth and richness of its user interface—CLI is typically the way to go—helpfully, all enterprise-grade devices expose traffic data through standard protocols, NetFlow the most common, introduced by Cisco in 1996.

Yet, tapping into the flow of data is one thing; being able to aggregate, store, review, analyse, and simply dig into it is another. Here, network hardware vendors have typically not provided tools or assistance without basic, proprietary, and standalone tools.

It's been a frustrating situation because your choices are to operate blindly, fork over more money for a proprietary vendor-specific tool, or... take on a cost-effective vendor-neutral NetFlow analyser that surfaces results efficiently and elegantly, letting you get to the heart of your issues. Smart network admins and IT teams go the latter route, and here's where SolarWinds NetFlow Traffic Analyzer (NTA) comes in.

Starting at only US$1,310 for subscription-based licensing, or US$2,610 for perpetual licensing, this tool proves its value over and over. NTA also complements and extends Network Performance Monitor (NPM), SolarWinds award-winning network management tool.

The product features bandwidth monitoring, application traffic alerting, network traffic analysis, and performance analysis. It also brings advanced features like VMware vSphere distributed switch support, advanced application recognition, Cisco Meraki wireless monitoring, CBQoS policy optimisation, and more.

NTA summary

NetFlow Traffic Analyzer truly is a daily-use tool, helping network operators monitor traffic, discover patterns, and hunt down and eliminate bandwidth hogs. It also provides predictable network usage insights and the visibility to track growth, so you know when you genuinely need more bandwidth and when you don't. For example, you can easily identify what is business vs. non-business bandwidth, to help determine when you need to put resource behind buying more or not. It also exposes malicious or malformed traffic as it happens, and integrates with other SolarWinds network products including SolarWinds NPM and SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager (NCM) for more powerful management.

So, next time your users say, "the network is slow," you know right where to look. Actually, with proactive alerting, you can be on top of the issue before your users.

It's that simple: this is a must-have for any organisation that depends on its network. SolarWinds offers a 30-day free trial to see for yourself, where you can see local traffic instantly from the server where you install your trial, even before you configure routers to send NetFlow.

Start your free trial here.

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David M Williams

David has been computing since 1984 where he instantly gravitated to the family Commodore 64. He completed a Bachelor of Computer Science degree from 1990 to 1992, commencing full-time employment as a systems analyst at the end of that year. David subsequently worked as a UNIX Systems Manager, Asia-Pacific technical specialist for an international software company, Business Analyst, IT Manager, and other roles. David has been the Chief Information Officer for national public companies since 2007, delivering IT knowledge and business acumen, seeking to transform the industries within which he works. David is also involved in the user group community, the Australian Computer Society technical advisory boards, and education.

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