Product updates

This week, a couple of great product updates: First,a few weeks ago we wrote about a program called Lightroom that's published by Adobe.

We were very impressed with that last beta release and we noted that Adobe planned to release a Windows version later this year. Well, "later" has come to pass, and Adobe Lightroom has been renamed Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, a new version has been released, and a Windows XP Service Pack 2 version appeared on Sept. 24.

This is the Beta 4 release, which will stop working on Feb. 28, 2007. Until then, you can play with it to your heart's content for free.

The Windows version looks more or less just like the Mac OS X version. Performance has improved, CD/DVD burning has been added, many of the editing features have been enhanced or otherwise polished, and the program appears to be even better than before. Check it out.

Our second update is for a tool we covered three years ago that has improved a lot in the meantime: Paessler Router Traffic Grapher (PRTG) from Paessler AG.

PRTG is a tool for monitoring and classifying the performance of the available attributes of network devices that support SNMP. The program provides near real-time metrics in tables and graphs and stores historical data, making PRTG very useful for trend analysis.

After PRTG is installed you can add SNMP sensors individually or have PRTG scan for SNMP-supported devices. PRTG speaks SNMP Versions 1, 2c (which supports 64-bit counters for gigabit links), and 3 (which supports MD5 and SHA authentication and DES encryption, if you want it).

You can scan for the standard SNMP-supported traffic sensors, or you can have PRTG sniff for data packets to determine traffic flow. You can rely on devices that support Cisco's Netflow protocol to generate your traffic data, or you can use the built-in ping service to test the performance of any accessible server, whether or not it is in your network.

Of course SNMP data covers a lot more than network performance. We set up PRTG to monitor the CPU load on our servers and workstations, and had it keep an eye on disk storage and RAM use.

PRTG displays a composite graph of data from any selection of sensors for periods of one hour, 24 hours, 30 days and 365 days averaged over 10 seconds, five minutes, hourly and daily (the averaging period can be customized). You also can view individual graphs. If only a single sensor is selected, you can view tables of the underlying data for various time periods, and graphs and tables can be enlarged, printed or copied to the clipboard.

A neat feature is the use of tags. You can add tags to any sensor, and selecting one or more of them in the tag panel filters the list of sensors displayed. You also can set thresholds for limits, notifications and error reports, and have the sensor data saved to logs.

The list of sensors can be divided into groups and subgroups, and you can move sensors among groups by dragging and dropping. Once a group or subgroup has been defined you can save it as a template so the sensors for a new device can be configured easily. We found the best way to use this feature was to create one template for disk metrics, one for processors, one for network interfaces and so on.

There's one minor weakness in PRTG that needs fixing: The autodiscovery feature does not work with templates - all autodiscovery will do is create sensors for traffic data for discovered devices.

PRTG also includes a report creation facility, and you can view output using the built-in Web server. The latter lets you access PRTG's data and analyses from any browser with reasonably detailed control over the level of detail that can be seen remotely.

There is a lot more to this product, but we'll sum it up: $100 is inexpensive for what PRTG supplies. Love it!

Learn more about this topic

Cisco next time? 01/19/04


Multi Router Traffic Grapher (MRTG) 07/18/02

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