Review: PathSolutions solves the network monitoring maze

PathSolutions' TotalView provides a path-oriented view into network problems and acts as a superb companion to your traditional network monitoring system

PathSolutions TotalView v4.3

Network monitoring has traditionally been device-centric, with a concentration on the health of the individual devices that make up your network. This is not a bad thing. After all, monitoring the health of network devices is critically important. But long missing has been an easier way to locate the bottlenecks and determine the root causes of problems rather than merely observing the symptoms.

One of my favorite tools of all time is the Fluke Networks OneTouch because it gives me a way to look at physical layer issues in conjunction with Ethernet and TCP/IP layer issues. With apologies to Fluke Networks, I'll compare PathSolutions' TotalView to having a OneTouch on every port in my network. Oh, and I'd really like to have the diagnostics in plain English, because not everyone in my shop has decades of training behind them.

[ Get expert networking how-to advice from InfoWorld's Networking Deep Dive PDF special report and The Deep End blog. ]

While device-centric network monitoring solutions (such as the excellent ScienceLogic EM7) are as indispensable as ever, they were designed for a different purpose. PathSolutions offers a companion tool that gives me a different view into my network -- one that is path oriented.

TotalView harvests SNMP data from your network devices (18 different counters) just like other network monitoring tools do, but it looks at that data differently, focusing on the connections between devices and how those devices interact. As a result, it quickly zeros in on many common network bugaboos. Even better, you don't have to be a senior network engineer to use it.

Lifting all boats
One of PathSolutions' biggest selling points is that it makes junior techs more productive. I haven't met an IT group yet that can afford to staff up with only seasoned engineers, and too many run their experts ragged because the kids haven't been smacked in the head enough times by the network of hard knocks. I've long wanted a tool that can make the kids more useful so that my experts can work on creating new services and refining existing ones -- a tool that can take some of the guesswork out of network diagnostics, but not hide all the details and prevent my newbies from learning.

InfoWorld Scorecard
Performance (20.0%)
Availability (20.0%)
Value (10.0%)
Scalability (20.0%)
Interoperability (10.0%)
Management (20.0%)
Overall Score (100%)
PathSolutions TotalView v4.3 9.0 9.0 10.0 9.0 9.0 9.0 9.1
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