5 Advanced Network Troubleshooting
Network administrators must be prepared to troubleshoot a
wide range of problems across the entire enterprise infrastructure. One
minute they may be troubleshooting why a PC can't authenticate to the
wireless network, while the next they may be trying to figure out why a BGP
neighbor is flapping. While network pros have long relied on basic tools
troubleshooting tools such as ping, traceroute and DNS lookups, more advanced
tools can streamline the process. Here are five tools that make network
troubleshooting easier and more efficient.
1. Protocol analyzer
If you're troubleshooting difficult network issues that
require you to investigate data flows down to the packet level, a protocol
analyzer is your absolute best choice. A protocol analyzer is a piece of software
that intercepts and logs packets so you can closely review them and see
specific interactions between clients and servers. For example, if a particular
PC has a slow connection to an application residing on a server, you can use a
protocol analyzer to identify any communication problems, latency issues or
other problems that could be the root cause.
Protocol analyzers such as Wireshark are
simple applications that you can install on a laptop and position on a network
switch using port mirroring to collect specific data on a case-by-case basis.
Alternatively, you can deploy commercial network-wide protocol analyzers that
have the ability to capture a much wider range of data.
2. SNMP monitoring tools
Network Monitoring Protocol (SNMP) is a way to monitor
infrastructure equipment. In enterprise environments, SNMP tools such as
SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor, HPE's Network Node Manager i (NNMi) or
CA Spectrum monitor the health of network devices and specific interfaces.
Alerts can be set up to notify network engineers when a specific interface or
device goes down. This helps administrators quickly zero in on the root cause
of network outages. Bandwidth utilization on network interfaces through the use
of SNMP collection tools also helps create a traffic baseline. When data flows
clearly change outside of the baseline, it’s an indication that a problem has
occurred in this area.
3. NetFlow analytics
Good Netiquette And A Green Internet To All! =====================================================================
NetFlow is a protocol that was originally developed by Cisco Systems to
collect IP network traffic in order to create an end-to-end picture of
individual traffic flows. Most enterprise-class routers and multi-layer
switches can be configured to generate flow data and send it to a centralized
NetFlow collection server. Once the data is collected and indexed, an administrator
can then use NetFlow analytics tools such as Plixer’s Scrutinizer or SevOne’s
NetFlow tool to drill into the data for a number of uses. From a network
troubleshooting perspective, NetFlow analytics can quickly track things such as
top applications, top hosts and changes in network flow behavior to spot
problems such as bandwidth
4. Centralized log management
The practice of deciphering network device logs is an
extremely useful troubleshooting technique. Centralized log management tools
such as Splunk and Graylog streamline this practice by collecting and storing
all network device logs into a central repository then using analytics to
correlate log events from multiple devices to identify and quickly resolve
network problems. Centralizing log analysis significantly speeds up the
troubleshooting process, especially when the problem is complex and difficult
to pinpoint. You can also use a centralized log management system to automate
the triggering of various notification alerts.
5. WiFi analyzers
An organization's wireless network is rapidly becoming the primary
connectivity method for end-user network access. Because of
this, administrators are under increasing pressure to maintain a WiFi presence
that is highly reliable and ubiquitous. WiFi relies on the use of the
unlicensed 2.4 and 5GHz frequency spectrums, which are prone to interference by
everything from neighboring WiFi devices, microwave ovens, airport radar,
and obstructions such brick walls. Tracking down the cause of interference can
be tricky without the right tools. Professional WiFi analyzers such as Netscout
AirMagnet or Ekahau Spectrum Analyzer allow network administrators to identify
interference that causes degraded WiFi performance so it can be quickly
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