Cisco monitoring

Cisco Monitoring and Management

Cisco, the leader in enterprise network market has several types of network devices including Routers, Switches, Firewalls, Wireless AP, VPN concentrators, IPS et al. These products serve to deliver the optimal levels of business services.

OpManager leverages the industry–standard Cisco management technologies viz., NetFlow, IPSLA, NBAR etc., to monitor and manage all the network devices in the Cisco gamut. OpManager comes with over a 160 exclusive device templates for several variants of Cisco devices. The network monitoring software relies on SNMP, the standard communication protocol, to communicate with the Cisco devices in a network. The templates–based discovery and monitoring provides the flexibility of accommodating every new product introduced by Cisco to evolve with the industry changes.

 
 

Network mapping

ManageEngine OpManager uses Cisco Discovery Protocol (CDP), their proprietary Data Link Layer protocol, implemented in most Cisco networking devices. If you are a Cisco shop, network maps give you a complete picture of your network.

OpManager reads the AARP cache and Bridge MIB information to determine how the devices are inter–connected to render the Layer 2 and Layer 3 mapping, reflecting the overall network connectivity. Select the seed device from which the network has to be mapped and the map layout (Radial Tree, Balloon Tree etc) and let OpManager’s mapping engine do the rest!

 

Enterprise networks keep evolving and for OpManager to automatically capture the changes in your network, schedule a network rescan and re–draw the links at a specified interval! To help you document the network diagrams, export the network maps to Visio directly from OpManager.

Options to export a network map to business views or adding them as widgets in dashboards give you the visibility you want to monitor and manage them effectively.

Read more on network mapping.

Network Traffic Analysis  – NetFlow and NBAR

Administrators are often left to deal with bandwidth problems. Troubleshooting a spike or narrowing down on what is choking the bandwidth is an everyday task. Unfortunately SNMP cannot give you these insights!

Cisco’s NetFlow gives you the right insight you need on your bandwidth. The Flows are typically exported from the Cisco Devices to the NetFlow collector, OpManager, where the collected Flows are stored in the database for further analysis. When analyzing a high bandwidth usage, the questions to reckon with are;

  • Who is using the bandwidth
  • Which application (ports and protocols) are eating up most bandwidth
  • Is it a legitimate business traffic?
  • Is it time for a bandwidth upgrade?

NetFlow packets contain the specifics such as the source and destination IP address, source and destination UDP⁄TCP ports, IP protocol etc.

 

That said, NetFlow by itself cannot identify the dynamic port applications’ bandwidth usage. It relies on port and protocol for application categorization. To overcome this limitation, Cisco has identified more than 70 different applications that use dynamic ports over the web or client⁄ server apps. These are done through an intelligent classification engine which is bundled in Cisco IOS called NBAR (Network Based Application Recognition). The NBAR approach is useful in dealing with malicious software using known ports to fake "high priority traffic", as well as non–standard applications using non–determinant ports.

OpManager eliminates the need to switch between the modules, by showing the dynamic port application traffic usage using NBAR within the NetFlow plug–in. All you need to do is enable NBAR on the monitored Cisco device and provide the SNMP community string in OpManager to collect these details.

Monitoring Class-based Quality of Service  – CBQoS

If you’ve implemented QoS policies in your routers to ensure that your business–critical applications receive the highest priority on your network, then you need to have visibility into the policies configured on your links and the traffic patterns in your various classes of traffic.

 

That is, what was the pre–policy, post–policy and drops in different traffic class along with the queuing status. This enables you to validate the efficiency of your QoS settings.

With the help of Cisco CBQoS, OpManager brings you this visibility on your network traffic. Here is a snapshot of OpManager NetFlow plug–in’s CBQoS that clearly indicates how much traffic was received in that particular link and how much traffic went through the policy setting and also the packet drops.

Once again this functionality is well inside the NetFlow plug–in and all you have to do is, enable SNMP on the router and provide the SNMP community string in OpManager that’s it.

Read more on OpManager’s Cisco CBQoS monitoring.

WAN & VoIP Performance Monitoring  – Cisco IP SLA

IP SLA is inbuilt in Cisco IOS devices that allows administrators to analyze IP Service Levels for IP applications and services. It simulates traffic with a set of predefined payloads and sends it across the network and tells you how well the network is performing. It is an active monitoring technology that lets you monitor continuous traffic on the network.

 
 
 

With most businesses being spread across the world, there is a need to measure the traffic round trip time between different branches. For instance, you might want to measure the latency and performance of VoIP connections between the central location and the branches. Cisco’s IP SLA gives you the insight without having to install a monitoring probe in each location.

OpManager monitors the WAN link and VoIP call path performance using Cisco IP SLA. For WAN link, OpManager gives a hop–wise latency count to measure the Round–Trip–Time across remote branches. And for VoIP, you get performance statistics like MOS, Jitter, Latency, Packet loss & more...

VoIP monitoring Dashboard >>

To start monitoring, just add the link in OpManager WAN RTT and VoIP module. OpManager automatically pushes configuration to the Cisco devices and starts recording the performance.

Read more on OpManager’s WAN monitoring and VoIP monitoring using Cisco IP SLA.

Network change and configuration management

For Change and Configuration Management, OpManager’s NCM plug–in helps you get a complete inventory view of all the network devices. When there is a fault configuration upgrade, you can quickly see the difference between the present and the previous configuration in a click. You can also roll back the configuration in a click.

 

Further, you can

  • Baseline configuration
  • Automate configuration updates or configuration changes across multiple devices.
  • Ensure best practices by following an approval mechanism through the NCM plug–in module for executing any change in the network.
  • In addition to that, you can configure your organizations compliance policies. Whenever a new configuration change happens, OpManager NCM module checks for the compliance and alerts you if it is violated.

Syslog and SNMP TRAP monitoring

Though Syslogs and SNMP traps are not active in nature, it is important to monitor them for faults. When a fault is detected by the Cisco device or someone tries to break in to the device, it communicates to the Network monitoring system similar to OpManager through SNMP Traps and Syslogs. OpManager acts as a Syslog receiver listening for Syslog messages or SNMP traps from the monitored devices. The received system alerts (Syslog or SNMP traps) are subsequently processed into corresponding meaningful OpManager alerts. Import the TRAPS into OpManager using the MIB files. Configure the Cisco devices to send Syslogs to OpManager server and let OpManager be the one point of alerts from all the sources.

 
 

Read more on Syslog monitoring and SNMP traps Monitoring in OpManager.

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