infoTECH Feature

May 11, 2010

Plixer's Feature Ridden Scrutinizer, a Boon for Institutions

With computers and laptops entering the classrooms, wireless computers have made their way into educational institutions.

Be it learning, interacting, communicating or recruiting, a growing number of institutions are slowly coming to depend on the Internet and the worldwide Web for more than mere information.

If educational systems at both the K-12 and collegiate level  have to thrive amidst the cut throat competition that exists, then these networked institutions need to keep their networks well oiled and running all the time as outages can bog down administration procedures and interrupt communications for thousands of students and people.

Apart from this, educational IT departments must have complete visibility into high traffic-flows and be on the watch out for any questionable activity that can pose a risk to the institution's reputation.

This is where Plixer's International Scrutinizer NetFlow and sflow analysis software steps in. More than a dozen school districts, colleges and universities have resorted to using the software to monitor network traffic for anomalies and ensure optimum utilization to meet their educational goals.

"Colleges and universities, in particular, have a unique requirement to monitor bandwidth consumption in order to ensure proper usage among students," Michael Patterson, Scrutinizer product manager with Plixer, said.

The Scrutinizer clientele list keeps on growing, with schools in the K-12 space and medical and polytechnic universities among others using the software to track usage and ensure maximum availability across the entire network.

Patterson, enumerating the many benefits of the software said that it helped them keep tabs on network activity and pinpoint spikes, down to the individual user level. This would help to identify inappropriate behavior or illegal activities or problems with the system itself.

Continuing in the same vein, he said  that Scrutinizer NetFlow and sFlow Analyzer provided complete visibility into all network activity from a single, easy-to-use interface that made it easy to see a top-level overview or dive deeper to get more granular detail on specific traffic patterns and hardware performance.

"Scrutinizer allows us to quickly and easily drill down into host protocols from a single pane of glass to analyze all traffic passing to and from our campus hosts and the Internet," Peter Rounds, network engineer with Syracuse University, a long-time Scrutinizer user, said..

Rounds further added that it had a brilliant reporting feature that allows them to overlay their campus network topology on a Google (News - Alert) map to get an accurate, spatial representation of core equipment deployed across campus, and see real-time link utilization with drill-down capability. Seamless compatibility with virtual servers helped to ensure optimum performance, as additional server resources such as CPU, memory and disk space could be allocated "on-the-fly."

"We're about 75 percent into the migration from physical hardware to virtual servers," Rounds said, and added that traffic analysis to and from our virtual servers was a challenge. With Scrutinizer however, analysis of both physical and virtual servers was easily performed.

"Our server administrators have expressed their appreciation for a tool that reports in great detail traffic to and from their hosts." rounds said, and added that installing Scrutinizer was easy, and the MyView interface allowed individual users to build their own Scrutinizer "home page" by configuring a custom view with the data they choose to see upon log in, while the Matrix, a graphical view of top-traffic hosts, indicated traffic direction.

Scrutinizer's support for Network Based Application Recognition helped authorities to identify which specific application was actually consuming bandwidth over the port at any given time.

In addition to the education arena, Plixer's NetFlow and sFlow analysis solutions are used to monitor traffic across some of the largest data networks in the world.

Plixer International (News - Alert), Inc. develops and markets network traffic monitoring and analysis tools to the global market. All of the tools are built from the ground up with valuable feature sets and ease of use in mind. Plixer tools have been used to analyze and troubleshoot irregular traffic patterns by IT professionals with some of the largest networks in the world.

Mini Swamy is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Kelly McGuire

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