Once you've completed installation and product activation, you can let loose the device to find your network and start configuring monitoring services. We installed the Pulse on a small LAN consisting of a Windows XP Pro machine acting as an FTP server, a Linux machine running Fedora Core 6 acting as an IP PBX, a NAS (Buffalo LinkStation), a VoIP ATA (Grandstream HandyTone 286), a wired router (Linksys RV042), a wireless router (Dlink DGL-4300), and a network printer (HP 7310). Holding this LAN together are a couple of 5-port unmanaged 10/100 Ethernet switches.
One of the strengths of the Pulse is its plug and play functionality. The Pulse provides an automatic way to detect the devices on the network and speed up the process of configuring alarming and monitoring.
The Pulse Setup Wizard (Figure 3) will walk you through the steps to find and scan the devices on your network, customize notification profiles such as email addresses or pager numbers, and to set up reporting.
Figure 3: The Setup Wizard
The Wizard gave me the option of letting the Pulse find my hosts automatically, or entering them manually. I chose the automatic method (Figure 4). This method provided two additional choices: to resolve host names and/or to scan for SNMP-enabled devices, with a warning that each of these additional scans may add time.
I selected the SNMP choice, and entered my network’s “community string” I had preset in my devices. The community string is like a password for SNMP communication. All you do is set your NMS and each device to use a common string of characters.
It took less than one minute to return the below screen (Figure 4), displaying the IP addresses of all the devices on my network, impressive!
Figure 4: The results of the network scan
From there, I selected the option to scan all hosts. This took a bit longer, but there is a nice display showing a rotating icon next to each device as it is being scanned. Once scanned, the Pulse produces a check mark next to each device, indicating it has discovered services it can monitor and has classified the device.
For a larger NMS, this is a function referred to as auto-discovery. This is useful, especially in deployments where there are dozens, hundreds, even thousands of devices. Auto-discovery may not get all the details perfect, but it saves time getting them entered so you can edit them.
These scans took about four minutes, and then gave me the option to edit each individual device, or choose Next. I chose Next, which took me to another screen where I selected Finish.
This created a list of the components on my network, each with about 1–10 different monitoring services per device. This is where you customize what you want to monitor and alarm.
One of the biggest issues I've seen in Network Operations Centers is activating too many alarms on too many devices. This condition ends up providing excessive information, which leads to overwhelming the limited resources available to respond, and masking critical conditions with a lot of “noise.”
I decided to go through each device and optimize its alarming for what was truly necessary. For purposes of testing, though, I probably activated too many services in order to do a good evaluation. For a longer-term deployment, I'd probably pare down the monitored services even further.
Starting at the top is the device at 192.168.3.1, which happens to be my main router, a Linksys RV042. This device is connected to my ISP (Verizon FiOS), acts as a firewall, and provides DHCP services for my LAN. The RV042 has a web utility for configuration, and also supports SNMP.
The Pulse detected the RV042 as a Linux 2.4 Server/Workstation, indicating the OS on the router is likely Linux. The Pulse auto-configured itself to monitor the RV042 via a ping to its internal IP (192.168.3.1), its web configuration page (http://192.168.3.1), and RIS Data (inter-communication). The first two were useful, the third not so much, so this is where it is important to customize the Pulse configuration (Figure 5).