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Reviews /

Response to RFP: Dartmouth College

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InterMapper(tm) 2.1 from Dartmouth College will provide an excellent solution to the network monitoring needs of Centralization Corporation. InterMapper combines simple installation and configuration, a wide range of monitoring capabilities, complete notification facilities, detailed network status display, and a web interface at a reasonable price to provide a flexible and comprehensive system.

InterMapper can monitor a company's internal network resources as well as those that are accessible from outside. It uses standard protocols such as SNMP, HTTP, FTP and others to query servers and network devices to determine their status and then uses the resulting information to alert the network administrators of problems before customers call to complain.

We use InterMapper ourselves. InterMapper began as an internally developed tool for monitoring the Dartmouth College data network. We realized that we had a unique combination of features, and began to market the program commercially in 1996. We continue to enhance the program as we discover new techniques to make network problems visible and in response to customer requests for new features.

Installation and Setup

Because InterMapper is easy to install and configure, the network staff can begin using InterMapper very quickly. The software is downloadable from the InterMapper FTP site. The only installation required is to uncompress the file to create the executable program.

When launched, InterMapper automatically discovers the routers of a network, and draws the interconnections between them in an on-screen map. The network administrator can then add servers, switches, workstations, etc. to the map, either individually, or by pasting in a text file containing the host names or IP addresses. InterMapper immediately begins monitoring the servers, routers, switches and other equipment as they are added to the map, even while the map is being edited further.

InterMapper supports an arbitrary number of maps, each of which may be opened, edited, and saved independently. There is no programmed limit to the number of devices a map may contain.


InterMapper probes intranet and internet devices on a regular interval to determine if they are working. The administrator can specify a polling interval for the devices on a map. These intervals range from 30 seconds to six hours.

InterMapper has probes for servers (HTTP, FTP, Telnet, SMTP, POP3, IMAP4, Gopher, NNTP, AppleShare IP and Custom TCP scripts) and network infrastructure: routers (MIB II), switches (Bridge MIB), and hubs (802.3 Repeater MIB). In addition, InterMapper supports ICMP and AppleTalk echo probes for workstations and other devices as well as other less common probes. InterMapper continually verifies DNS names and IP address mappings with the configured DNS server.

With two exceptions, InterMapper will test all the equipment in the network specified in the RFP: neither RADIUS nor Window NT server probes are available in the current version of InterMapper. However, these servers can be partially tested using ICMP, SNMP, or even by creating a Custom TCP probe.

In addition to up/down testing, a network administrator can set warning and alarm thresholds for links. These are typically used to indicate conditions that are not failures, but may need attention. InterMapper uses these settings to display the traffic indicators on the map, and can send notifications as the traffic flows cross these thresholds.

InterMapper maintains an event log in a text file that shows up/down, warn/alert/OK conditions, along with the date and time and device reporting the event.


InterMapper can send notifications in many circumstances: when a device fails, when a reading goes above the specified warning or alarm threshold, or when a device returns to normal operation. These notifications can go one (or many) individuals who are responsible for the device. InterMapper allows separate alerts to be designated for each device, and each device may have multiple notifications for a particular condition. Each notification can also have its own delay (before notifying) and a repetition interval and count. Furthermore, each notification may be configured with one or more blackout periods, during which no notifications will be sent.

These features can be used to establish an escalation process. For example, the technician on duty can be notified immediately; the supervisor can be notified if the problem continues for 30 minutes; and further notifications can be sent up the chain if the problem hasn't been resolved.

InterMapper has four separate notification methods: audible alarms, e-mail messages, pager (numeric or alphanumeric) or running an arbitrary script or application. Pager notifications require the use of the separate PageNOW software package and a modem. The text of both e-mail and alphanumeric pages may be configured by the user, and can contain values specific to the device.

Detailed Network Status

In addition to its monitoring and notification features, InterMapper displays detailed information about the status of the network.

InterMapper's on-screen maps show traffic flows through the network. These flows are indicated by dotted lines-our customers call them ants-which move along the links. The network manager can set thresholds for the indicators, giving a visual indication when the amount of traffic exceeds these values. In addition, key MIB variables such as traffic, error counts, link utilization, etc. may be placed into strip charts to show historical data.

Clicking on a device or link pops up a window with real-time statistics about the item: traffic and error rates, network and MAC addresses, and link utilization for networks and interfaces; uptime, contact name and location (SNMP sysContact and sysLocation), and domain name and IP address for devices. This popup window gives considerable detail about a device or interface, yet avoids cluttering the map when everything is working properly.

InterMapper supports multiple monitors. This allows a network manager to spread the maps for the network across several screens to see everything at once.

Web Interface

InterMapper 2.1 has a built-in web server, which allows a network manager to see the information using a standard web browser. There are separate pages that show a list of the devices that are down or in alarm; a full list of all devices; a chronological list of recent outages; and a list of the maps that are currently open.

Selecting a map in the web browser displays the map as it currently appears on-screen. Clicking on a device, network or link displays the same information as would be shown in the detailed popup window described above.

Access to the InterMapper web server is controlled by IP address. InterMapper has an access control list that describes which IP addresses (or address ranges) may access the web server.

System Requirements

Minimum requirements for InterMapper are a MacOS compatible computer (68K or PPC), System 7.0 through MacOS 8.6, 2.5 Mbytes free RAM, and 4 Mbytes free disk space. OpenTransport 1.1.2 or later is recommended. If there will be many maps open simultaneously, it will be helpful to have two (or more) monitors to see most of the maps at one time. InterMapper does not require a dedicated machine.

The minimal hardware system will accommodate several maps with over 100 routers, servers and other devices. At Dartmouth College, we monitor our network consisting of 84 hosts and servers, 135 routers, and 163 switches using InterMapper on a Macintosh 7100/80 with a 4-megabyte RAM partition. We use three 17" monitors in this configuration to get a good view of the network. InterMapper supports considerably larger networks: we have customers who monitor thousands of devices on a single InterMapper station.

Pricing, Warranty, Technical Support

Although the RFP does not mention size of network, InterMapper will serve well in networks of all sizes. InterMapper 2.1 does not have a programmed limit to the number of devices it will monitor.

The list price is $795.00; educational customers receive a 50% discount. Notification via pager requires the PageNOW software, which can be purchased with InterMapper 2.1 for an additional $69.00. There is a 90-day warranty. Technical support is available via direct e-mail, our web-site, and through the InterMapper-Talk mailing list.

A free, full-function limited-duration demonstration version of InterMapper is available from our web site: For more information about InterMapper and other Dartmouth Network Software, please visit our web site or contact the product manager at the address below:

Rich Brown
Manager of Special Projects
Dartmouth College
6028 Kiewit Computer Center
Hanover, NH 03755-3523 USA
Telephone: 603/646-3648
Fax: 603/646-2810

RFP and responses from other vendors

The RFP - See the RFP to which the vendors responded.

The responses:

  RiverSoft (in Word format)
Tally Systems

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