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

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TotalView takes a lightweight approach to figuring out what is happening between any two network devices -- and to determining call quality between two phones. Instead of sending and receiving traffic to determine how the network would connect the two IP addresses, it reads the tables from the switches and routers to determine the path. It then displays the health and performance of every link, switch, and router along the way. TotalView gathers all of this information using SNMP queries, and it measures the latency, jitter, and loss of these SNMP queries to determine MOS scores for voice communications.

TotalView also provides a Call Simulator you can use to measure latency, jitter, and loss to or from a remote switch, router, server, or VoIP handset. The Call Simulator has two modes -- an ICMP-based simulation that allows you to estimate call quality to nearly any network device that will respond to ICMP. The second mode requires the Call Simulator on both ends, but will send simulated VoIP calls over RTP on specific ports for testing through firewalls and to get closer to your actual configuration.

Finally, TotalView can even help you with your paperwork. Murphy's Law dictates that you will absolutely need support contract information and the license expiration date for a switch or router on a Sunday or after hours, when the file is locked away in a drawer in Finance. TotalView gives you a few fields in the device list to store this kind of information. It even sends you an email reminder (separate from your daily report) when your support contract is set to expire in 30 days. I only wish there were also a notes field to accommodate those odd pieces of info that I like to keep on each device.

TotalView is not just a VoIP analysis tool, nor is it a simple monitoring tool. It doesn't replace your traditional network monitoring system. It's a completely new kind of tool that will give you a view into your network not previously available. Shining a light into the paths between all of your network devices, TotalView removes much of the tedium involved in diagnosing network problems so that you can skip straight to the task of resolving them.

PathSolutions TotalView at a glance

Pros
  • Zeros in on common network problems
  • Provides diagnoses in plain English
  • Installs in about 15 minutes
  • Very lightweight
  • Runs on older gear or virtualized
  • All dependencies are internalized
Cons
  • Runs only on Windows (32-bit or 64-bit)
  • Runs only on a single server
  • Wants to monitor all of your ports (which drives up the cost), though you can delete extraneous ports to slide under your license limit
Cost $8,390 to monitor 1,000 interfaces on a network; volume pricing available

This story, "Review: PathSolutions solves the network monitoring maze," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in networking at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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