Network managers looking to lighten their load will get a helping hand from Neon Software’s LANsurveyor 7.0.1. The $495 package, which aims to bridge the gap between troubleshooting tools (such as Neon’s NetMinder Ethernet network analyzer) and management applications (such as Netopia’s netOctopus), helps you maintain accurate network documentation, alerts you to network problems, and manages virtually any device connected to your network.
LANsurveyor 7.0 works with System 7 or later, Mac OS X, and Windows 95 or later clients and with printers, routers, and other network devices that support SNMP. Version 7.0 — the first OS X–native version — adds a Backup Profiler report and new map types and lets you store notes about any network client.
The base LANsurveyor package includes a license for 20 Neon Responders — local agents that let the application collect data from or issue commands to the clients on which they’re installed.
Mapping Your World
LANsurveyor’s network map is the heart of the program: all reporting, alerting, and management features are based on or stored within the map. To use the program, you select the TCP/IP addresses and AppleTalk zones you want to map, along with specific AppleTalk services including Neon Responders, ICMP (Ping) SNMP devices, and Timbuktu and Retrospect clients. LANsurveyor scans the devices and creates a hierarchical network map, complete with detailed profiles of each discovered device.
Version 7.0 allows you to add up to ten notes, such as serial number, location, and user name, to any Responder node. These notes can be displayed on the map and included in reports generated by the program. Note that if you’re using OS X, you must be logged in to an OS X workstation for the Responder to load.
Since scanning large, multisegment networks can be time-consuming, LANsurveyor lets you scan a portion of your network at a time. The new map types make it easier to depict large networks; for example, orthogonal and circular maps are nice for displaying multiple network segments that are linked by one or more routers. You can rearrange the discovered objects to suit your needs, grouping them by function, for instance, or arranging them to more closely depict your network’s physical layout.
On the Lookout
Once you’ve created a map, managing your network is easy. The Poll and Monitor lists let you select devices to watch for performance, reliability, and accessibility. The Poll list tracks the appearance and disappearance of nodes (or services) from the list; similarly, the Monitor list tracks network traffic (in packets) into and out of the nodes on the list.
You can set LANsurveyor to alert you when conditions change. Alerts can be sent by page (using Mark/Space Softworks’ PageNow utility), by e-mail, or through the LANsurveyor host station. LANsurveyor can also handle SNMP traps to trigger similar alert notifications.
Through the Manage menu, you can issue requests to Responders to shut down; restart; sync the system clock; send files, folders, or messages; and launch or quit installed applications. Though it can’t distribute and install applications like netOctopus can, LANsurveyor can easily copy files and folders to predetermined locations on any networked client.
Management features also let you integrate third-party applications such as Netopia’s Timbuktu; AT&T’s open-source remote-control tool Virtual Network Computing (VNC), included with LANsurveyor; Neon’s CyberGauge; and NCSA Telnet.
LANsurveyor also lets you associate an AppleTalk network service with any application used to manage it. Option-clicking on the device name launches the associated application. For example, you could launch Telnet or a custom application to manage a router anywhere on your network. In this way, you can use LANsurveyor as a “dashboard” to control your network — either directly or by launching a specific application to manage network devices.
LANsurveyor’s powerful reporting features not only negate the need for printed network documentation, but also help you manage your network. For example, you can generate an up-to-date spreadsheet of your workstations’ applications and their version numbers, automatically locate the workstations with outdated applications on the network map, and then launch a helper application to update the specific folders or files.
Special-purpose reports such as the Backup Profiler, which tracks the amount and type of data on selected nodes, help you plan your network-support needs. But running Backup Profiler is time-consuming, as you can’t select only a subset of files to profile.
Macworld’s Buying Advice
Despite a few minor shortcomings, LANsurveyor 7.0 is invaluable for network managers. OS X support and new reports and map topologies only increase its usefulness. Whether you use it only for documentation, planning, and troubleshooting or integrate it with your network-monitoring system, you’ll see the program’s benefits almost immediately.