With all things networked migrating to TCP/IP, LAN administrators want IP-capable tools. Neon Software’s LANsurveyor 5.0 obliges with new IP discovery capabilities and beefed-up Mac-centric features, but it lacks IP-management capabilities that many administrators consider essential; expect to buy adjunct tools, such as Neon’s CyberGauge and Dartmouth College’s InterMapper, to flesh out your networking tool kit.
LANsurveyor 5.0 consists of a main network-management application that you run on a centrally located Mac and a remote Responder application that runs on each Mac in your network (20 Responders are included). The management application scans the network, locating computers, printers, routers, and other network devices and plotting them on a map. You can then customize the map, assigning icons and arranging objects to suit your needs.
In its Discovery mode, LANsurveyor can now find IP-only devices as well as AppleTalk devices. Macs running the Responder application report system information; once your network is mapped, LANsurveyor monitors it for problems and notifies you by alert, alarm, e-mail, or page.
Managers will welcome the program’s new ability to send folders and messages to remote Macs and to configure the Responder application remotely. The new version also adds convenience features, such as the ability to launch CyberGauge and Netopia’s Timbuktu to further manage selected map objects, and monitoring improvements, including the ability to alert on a device’s traffic volume rather than error rate.
Despite these enhancements, LANsurveyor still falls short as an IP-management tool. Its traffic monitor, for example, still checks only for packets moved in a monitoring interval rather than percent utilization or data rate in bits per second. The program still supports only one SNMP community name, and it still won’t let you build subsidiary maps to manage large LANs. By taking the liberty of completely reorganizing its map whenever a new discovery process is run, LANsurveyor will frustrate users trying to maintain a custom map layout. And for all its newfound IP discovery abilities, it doesn’t detect or monitor the IP services served by discovered devices.
Macworld’s Buying Advice
LANsurveyor’s new features are welcome improvements, but the program fails to provide all the tools you need to manage a network. Worse, many of its shortcomingssuch as quirky data-rate measurementsget in the way of good network-administration practice. If you need LANsurveyor’s Mac-oriented management features, you may find a place for it in your tool kit, but plan to use something else for TCP/IP administration.