"Before NetCrunch, we had to use multiple vendor-specific tools to glean the current status of different devices. With NetCrunch, that's not a problem. A quick look at a map shows you the malfunctioning hosts. By clicking on the problem device, you can drill down to very detailed performance statistics without having to worry about what kind of device it is, or what system it is running. "
Senior Network Engineer
MEA Meisinger, Aichach, Germany
MEA's WAN infrastructure provides high-speed connectivity between the holding's divisions and the central office. Because it enables access to mission-critical corporate-wide resources and business applications, (email and internet connectivity, supply chains, accounting, etc.) the MEA network has to be running around the clock ensuring uninterrupted workflows along with secure, stable and measurable services. To make this happen, WAN administrators in the central office are tasked with continuous monitoring of all devices in the network including Cisco routers, Novell servers, Windows servers, print servers, switches and hubs.
"Without a monitoring tool to resort to in our WAN, day in day out we had to manually check the status of the backup line for all locations regardless of whether the line was up or down," says Heinz Frühbauer, MEA's senior network engineer. "To give you an example, just in one location this involved connecting to the Cisco router via Telnet, entering the username and password and using the relevant Cisco command. If you multiply that by six, this routine task alone was too much of a hassle."
It soon became evident that in order to efficiently control the utilization of costly leased line connections, MEA's IT team needed a multi-task tool that would allow them to graphically display the whole WAN connectivity, automatically monitor various aspects of network devices' performance, and alert them of connectivity or service quality issues. Having researched available monitoring solutions in the $1,000-2,000 price range, MEA's IT team opted for AdRem NetCrunch 3 from AdRem Software.
From the very beginning, NetCrunch's appeal lay in the visual presentation of a vast amount of data about network hosts' performance and connectivity status. Using NetCrunch's physical and logical topology maps MEA administrators found they could document and analyze health and utilization of the whole network and detect trouble spots at a glance. "Before NetCrunch, we had to use multiple vendor-specific tools to glean the current status of different devices," Frühbauer explains. "Typical tools we used for that purpose included Telnet for Cisco routers, Novell RConsoleJ for NetWare servers, LapLink for Windows servers, or Windows Explorer for print server, to name a few. What's more, to do that we had to be familiar with a lot of system-specific commands. With NetCrunch, that's not a problem. A quick look at a map shows you the malfunctioning hosts. By clicking on the problem device you can drill down to very detailed performance statistics without having to worry about what kind of device it is, or what system it is running."
For Frühbauer, another highly useful feature in NetCrunch has been the ability to access all of the monitoring data and NetCrunch network maps from a web browser. In this manner, he is not stuck to those specific workstations where NetCrunch has been installed. MEA administrators liked the fact that the program's web interface delivers the same "look and feel" and navigation as the client version. What's more, to use the web access functionality, they didn't have to configure an external HTTP server.
The program's ability to alert users of broken connections and malfunctions in device, network service or interface performance turned out to offer the greatest value. "Before NetCrunch, we would be unaware for days that leased lines at different locations were down and consequently backup lines were active," Frühbauer recalls. "You can imagine how high backup line and data transmission costs we ran into with ISDN calls from UK to our central German office, and that for many days. Now that we have NetCrunch constantly monitoring our network, we get alerted via e-mail or SMS (among many other notification methods) when the leased connection is broken. This way, we can quickly react, for example by calling our internet service provider's hotline. What's more, with NetCrunch no critical event goes unnoticed, as it is stored in the program's database. So even if we missed it in real time, we can analyze it on detailed historical reports that show us when a specified leased line was broken and when the backup line was active."
"I reckon NetCrunch gives each of us about 30-45 minutes saved on handling daily network management issues. What's more, with the automated mapping, monitoring and alerting capabilities we managed to reduce the costs of leasing backup links and enhance network uptime. On the benefits side, I should also mention the overall improvement in the reliability and accountability of our entire WAN environment, which I guess makes everyone's job easier here. My opinion is that NetCrunch is the way to go if you're looking for a quickly-deployable "one stop" monitoring solution that comes at a reasonable price."
Established in 1886 and headquartered in Aichach, Germany, an industrial holding MEA Meisinger Group is a manufacturer, wholesaler and vendor of a broad range of products for the construction industry, including glass fiber solutions, industrial drainage units, building products, metal processing and finishing services, and metal fixing products. With plants and markets across Europe, USA, the Middle East and Asia, MEA is recognized for outstanding quality of products and supporting services.
MEA's Wide Area Network (WAN) infrastructure is spread across six locations across Europe connected via a leased virtual private network (VPN) link to the central office in Aichach, Germany. Each of the holding's six remote sites houses one Novell server and one Windows email server. The corporate office is built on a Layer 3 switch and is made up of four Novell servers and three Windows servers. All in all, the entire MEA Meisinger WAN hosts 25 servers and around 300 workstations. To ensure uninterrupted connectivity in the event of a VPN link failure, there is a backup link configured on Cisco routers in every remote location.