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Internet Related/Filtering/Firewall Thread, Connection Monitoring/Testing in Technical; Hi folks, We've been having ongoing problems with our LA provided Internet connection. The SLT have asked me to record ...
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    Gongalong's Avatar
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    Question Connection Monitoring/Testing

    Hi folks,

    We've been having ongoing problems with our LA provided Internet connection.

    The SLT have asked me to record and graph the quality of the connection, and also provide something that alerts when the connection is problematic.

    My networking skills aren't the best, but I do already use The Dude for LAN monitoring (simple PING-ing of vital network assets).

    I could of course use The Dude to ping external resources (aside from the issue of what to ping), but ultimately I don't think this is a great gauge of what the fundamental problem is, which is the speed of web browsing.

    So two questions:

    1. Is there something other than The Dude which will simply record and graph the stability of a connection? The more tests it can do the better (PING, DNS resolution speed... what else?), and I'm sure we can spend money to get something decent.

    2. Is there something which will test web browsing? e.g. open a handful of sites say once every 5 minutes and time how long they take to open, then record that and alert if it goes above a certain threshold.

    TIA

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    localzuk's Avatar
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    The way I used to do this was with Nagios - I had the routers at each end of the internet connection as devices (both could be pinged). It tracked uptime quite well. Doesn't cover speeds though. To do that, I used Cacti.

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    Quote Originally Posted by localzuk View Post
    The way I used to do this was with Nagios - I had the routers at each end of the internet connection as devices (both could be pinged). It tracked uptime quite well. Doesn't cover speeds though. To do that, I used Cacti.
    yes that's a great idea @localzuk

    We use both Nagios and Cacti to monitor all of our networking equipment at an ISP level.

    The best thing here is that its free too

    Dave

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    localzuk's Avatar
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    Bear in mind that Nagios is a little bit of a pain to set up. If you don't want to spend all your time fiddling in text config files, you could set up and use something like NConf. I set that up at my last school before I left, so the new guy would have something to use to configure it with relative ease.

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    The problem is that ping and similar tools don't really give a great indication of how web traffic is performing.

    PRTG is great, in that it actually checks the time taken for one or more websites to load. It then logs that, and can alert if it goes over a certain value. The problem we're having though is that (a) it doesn't seem to want to use our proxy (with WPAD or manually configured) which is obviously fundamental to working properly and (b) it's a bit of a sledgehammer to crack a nut. I just want websites to be monitored, and it's a head-scratcher trying to figure out how to remove everything else.

    Anyway, until I can resolve this proxy issue PRTG is no good.

    It's a shame there isn't a simple tool out there where you can just add 10 or so mixed websites, and then just do the above. Not an enormously complex task.

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    And I do need something that works out of the box with minimal config. I don't know Linux at all, and we're so incredibly busy that I don't have time to spend on lots of config.

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    Multiping is a handy tool with easy to read graphs, although it is ping only. MultiPing
    What switches/router do you have? Can you get utilization on the internet port from there?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gongalong View Post
    The problem is that ping and similar tools don't really give a great indication of how web traffic is performing.

    PRTG is great, in that it actually checks the time taken for one or more websites to load. It then logs that, and can alert if it goes over a certain value. The problem we're having though is that (a) it doesn't seem to want to use our proxy (with WPAD or manually configured) which is obviously fundamental to working properly and (b) it's a bit of a sledgehammer to crack a nut. I just want websites to be monitored, and it's a head-scratcher trying to figure out how to remove everything else.

    Anyway, until I can resolve this proxy issue PRTG is no good.

    It's a shame there isn't a simple tool out there where you can just add 10 or so mixed websites, and then just do the above. Not an enormously complex task.
    I use PRTGs cloud monitoring and website availability features. It's not perfect, but I haven't found a better overall network monitoring system then PRTG (features and ease if use), at least for the money.

    http://cdn.paessler.com/common/files...itoring_en.pdf
    http://www.paessler.com/info/website_availability

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    We have a Smoothwall, so I can see utilisation at our gateway. We also have PCM so I can see switch utilisation throughout the LAN. Neither of these every really show a problem when the web slows down. The crux of it though is that web browsing is where it hits the teachers, that is time to load a site. The LA provided connection can look fine in terms of ping and traceroute, but web browsing can still be slow, when we have an issue. So I need a tool that checks 10 or so varied websites, along with the time it takes to load them. That tool has to log these times, and alert when it goes over a threshold.

    PRTG does exactly that, and the freeware version will monitor 10 sites. But it can't seem to handle proxy authentication on our Smoothwall, even when configured with the right data.

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    Only the HTTP sensors can be configured with the proxy settings. If you're having problems with this working then I would first investigate your proxy configuration on the Smoothwall because that may be one of the causes of the performance problems you are seeing with your connections. If you are certain that's not a problem the log it with Paessler support - they are good.

    We use a transparent proxy here (highly recommended), which removes all of the many issues that go with traditional proxy setups.

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    The Smoothwall does both transparent and non-transparent. I'm using non-transparent, so maybe that's my problem. I'll try switching.

    The Smoothwall does show the traffic from PRTG hitting the server, but everything has 407 (authentication) errors.

    No response from Paessler on this issue so far, so I've logged it with Sales as a pre-sales enquiry that I need to get resolved ASAP.

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    Zabbix all the way, Zabbix even have a nice virtual machine for you to use. It'll graph everything for you. I use it on several ISP Networks at the moment.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gongalong View Post
    Hi folks,

    We've been having ongoing problems with our LA provided Internet connection.

    The SLT have asked me to record and graph the quality of the connection, and also provide something that alerts when the connection is problematic.

    My networking skills aren't the best, but I do already use The Dude for LAN monitoring (simple PING-ing of vital network assets).

    I could of course use The Dude to ping external resources (aside from the issue of what to ping), but ultimately I don't think this is a great gauge of what the fundamental problem is, which is the speed of web browsing.

    So two questions:

    1. Is there something other than The Dude which will simply record and graph the stability of a connection? The more tests it can do the better (PING, DNS resolution speed... what else?), and I'm sure we can spend money to get something decent.

    2. Is there something which will test web browsing? e.g. open a handful of sites say once every 5 minutes and time how long they take to open, then record that and alert if it goes above a certain threshold.

    TIA
    I use the dude.

    I monitor the port on my core switch which connects to my internet connection via sntp. This gives a simple graph of the throughput of that port (and your net connection). I have it on my screen all day everyday - meaning I'm usually one of the first to see an issue.

    Ping results probably wont give you what you want - I think you need a graph of your bandwidth which the dude can give you, as well as many of the other products mentioned. If you're already using the dude it's quick and easy to try.
    Last edited by IrritableTech; 7th February 2014 at 02:38 PM.

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    Bandwidth usage we get through Smoothwall.

    What I need is something that tangibly monitors how web sites are behaving. What we get is a call from staff saying the web's slow, or sites aren't loading. If I can setup a tool which monitors 10 varied sites (including core sites we use), then reports when those sites don't load, that's absolutely ideal for me. Ultimately that's what staff (and students) are using so gives a real feel for it. PRTG does that, allegedly. I'm just having a bit of a job getting it to work, and then to work consistently.

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