Customizing Network Analysis and Troubleshooting with OmniPeek

Today, most enterprise IT networks are composed of a wide range of distributed applications, wired and wireless systems. No two networks are the same, and in order to combat the rise in network complexity, IT and network administrators must rely on network analysis software that isn’t just a one size fits all solution.

We designed the OmniPeek network analyzer with this in mind. The highly extensible architecture enables you to extend your network analysis into areas that are the most important. We have also created an array of plug-ins and add-on modules, including capture adapters and specialized analysis, which can be installed and immediately deployed without having to update your current version of the software.

Below we discuss the different scenarios that you may currently be facing and how you can customize your network to fit these needs.

Wireless Problems?
You have rolled out your initial wireless network, however more users are beginning to access the network and new services, like VoIP over WiFi (VoFi), are being rolled out too. As more traffic begins to stream across your network, throughput drops during peak usage and users begin to complain about connectivity issues.

Capturing wireless packets remotely is easy using the WildPackets Cisco AP Capture Adapter, which allows existing Cisco managed APs to be temporarily converted to packet capture devices, forwarding all of their packets back to OmniPeek via TCP/IP over the wired network. Not a Cisco customer? WildPackets also supports remote wireless packet captures for other vendors.

Using an AP for packet capture is a simple way to improve visibility into areas that are experiencing wireless problems. It’s also a great way to extend the life of old APs: after replacing them with newer models, re-use the old AP for remote packet capture. Either keep them mounted in the old location, or deploy them on an as-needed basis to locations experiencing chronic problems.

Once a problem occurs, remote packet captures can be started instantly and you can begin to discovered the troubled environment and troubleshoot the issue. When dealing with problems that are difficult to reproduce, it’s critical to have a tool ready on-site, rather than waiting for someone to get to the trouble spot and hoping the problem still exists.

If you’re addressing the wireless congestion problem by adding more APs with more channels, WildPackets also helps with aggregated wireless capture for true multi-channel monitoring with roaming latency analysis. This is one of our most popular plug-ins, and it’s easy to see why, because it makes roaming easy to see.

Need Better Visibility into Whether it’s an Application or Network Problem?
Latency is one of the most common issues on your network, but it can be one of the most frustrating to diagnose. Detecting sources of latency: application or the network is where additional tools are needed. The Latency Monitor plug-in provides valuable insight into pinpointing whether the latency originated from the network or the application.

For most businesses, top performance at the end-user is necessary for performing mission critical tasks. Understanding what the normal levels for Application Response Time (ART) and Network Response Time (NRT) is key to identifying abnormal response rates and determining the source of latency. The Latency Monitor graphs all of the results together in order to easily see where the problems are with the network or the applications.

In order for network admins to make the most intelligent decisions possible about improving network and application performance, you need the most in depth information.

How Do You Monitor What You Don’t Own?
Today, many businesses run their important applications through browsers. If your company runs applications over the web, you will need specific information in order to troubleshoot issues when they arise. For example, if a page doesn’t load but everything comes up clear on the server-side you need to be able to retrace the request progress. The main tool for diagnosing web problems is built into OmniPeek, with the Web analysis views. These pages allow quick insight into web site performance, including information per server, per client, per page, and even down to the per-request level.

Monitoring and troubleshooting web service issues is increasingly complicated with the trend of migration to cloud hosting. While cloud has certain advantages, it comes at the cost of decreased control.

WildPackets addresses cloud monitoring with a pair of plug-ins: Cloud Stats and Cloud Latency Monitor. Cloud Stats uses Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) to provide dynamic name resolution for HTTP connections, greatly clarifying where the web traffic in your network is going. Rather than a HTTP connection to a numeric IP address, the Cloud Stats Plug-in will show the actual host portion of the URL.

Cloud Latency Monitor is designed for ongoing analysis of your cloud-hosted services, using either ping or HTTP to provide continuous latency measurement. This tool is so popular, we even made it into a stand-alone tool, which you can deploy for free.

Want to See Information, Not Just Packets?
To ensure that you have full visibility of your network as well as the ability to go back in time to check out behavior of your network users, OmniPeek has the Compass Dashboard, which allows you to capture and visualize Gigabytes or even Terabytes of application server traffic then mine the transactions to discover any compliance or security issues. Compass provides dynamic differential visualization to go beyond the Top Talkers list, and graph individual nodes or protocols against the total traffic, or even against each other, to figure out what’s really going on.

Compass is another tool that has been so popular, we’ve released it as a free stand-alone tool. Install it on any node you want to get visibility into any segment.

Your Business Relies on Your Network, You Can Rely on Us
Businesses today are multi-faceted, and it’s no surprise that networks are the same. With the decentralization of most IT environments, it is necessary to have a monitoring and analysis solution that can be adjusted accordingly.

For a more in depth description of these as well as other plug-in capabilities, check out our blog, “Most Popular OmniPeek Plug-ins.”

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