When most people think about German engineering, usually they think of the many well-made luxury cars. But, German engineering goes further. It is also responsible for the production of a wide range of software.
One example is Paessler, who are the makers of the PRTG Network Monitoring system, that’s certainly worth a look at. The features range from basic SNMP monitoring and alerts, to Netflow collection, and packet capture.
The simple installation of PRTG is quick. PRTG uses its own proprietary database that gets installed along with the core suite, with no separate SQL installation required. Once it is installed you can easily manually add additional devices, or you can use an automatic network discovery.
PRTG utilizes sensors in the monitoring of devices. Once you add a device then you must configure sensors to gather information. Examples of sensors would be hard disk space or CPU utilization monitors.
Luckily you don’t need to know precisely which sensors to configure. Even when you add devices manually, you can still opt to auto-discover the device type. PRTG will create a sensor list unique to that specific device.
There are a number of built in dashboards in PRTG to assist you in viewing your network at a glance. Dashboards help to gather information on outages, warnings, and alarms in one panel. Administrators can quickly identify trouble spots, and then drill down for more information.
When you hover the cursor over the different sensors it pops up a chart for that statistic, making it easy to spot trends and possible issues.
PRTG has both a full windows GUI and an HTML front-end. In practice it is usually simpler to use the GUI for configuring the system and you’ll get a little snappier response, more intuitive experience since there is helpful right-click context sensitive menus.
However, the web interface is also designed well and is capable. If you are an admin on the go, there is also an optional iPhone interface available.
A network management system would not be much use if it did not alert administrators of problems. PRTG can meet this need as well.
As an admin you can set alert options after you add devices and configure sensors. Alert options include the usual ways: run scripts, send SMS text messages, email alerts, pop up messages, and more.
Sure, it has a great feature list, but does it actually work well?
During testing PRTG performed very well. It setup as simple as they claimed it would, but auto-discovery worked far better than when devices were added manually.
Both the GUI and web-interface are well designed and are very logical. It is always easy for you to locate the information that you are looking for.
While it can be painful to add devices manually – Every time a sensor is added the GUI pops-up an event viewer to let you know you’ve just added a sensor, although it can become quickly annoying. Auto discovery is certainly way smoother, even in semi-automatic mode where you manually add devices but then PRTG decides which sensors to add.
The best place to start is with the PRTG trial version. You can download the free 30-day trial and try PRTG. Overall we were impressed with this German engineering, and we believe you also will be.