When you're responsible for ensuring the accessibility and availability of a network, sleep can be rare and restless. One good way to stay sane is to use monitoring tools - such as Dartware's InterMapper - to watch the network. The recently released InterMapper X and InterMapper Remote, both at version 4.0, mark a significant shift in Dartware's flagship product. The previous version, InterMapper 3.8, was a stand-alone OS 9 application; the new release debuts as an OS X-native application that includes separate server components.
Although these components don't yet have feature parity with the stand-alone application, the ability to deploy them separately and incorporate the new submapping feature illustrates the direction in which Dartware is taking the product. The server, which runs as a faceless background daemon on OS X, can be controlled from another workstation using the Java-based companion program, InterMapper Remote. With this, and the addition of Windows- and Unix-based versions of the product, you can now deploy InterMapper in much more flexible and scalable ways.
InterMapper X 4.0 has three components: the stand-alone InterMapper X program, InterMapper Console, and InterMapper Server. InterMapper X combines a dashboard-like user interface and a built-in SNMP polling engine.
Console and Server separate these presentation and polling functions into two discrete components. Console can be used only on systems that have Server installed. The separately licensed companion program, InterMapper Remote, can be used from another workstation to configure and view maps stored on a server.
If a network isn't too complex and you can dedicate Macs to running the stand-alone InterMapper application, this is clearly the best approach - for now. Larger, distributed networks with a mix of operating systems are better-suited to Dartware's new server-and-remote deployment model, as it allows you to install, configure, and view maps from virtually anywhere.
As its name implies, InterMapper monitors a network through maps. They provide a dashboard view of the status of the network's devices (routers, switches, servers, and even wireless access points) and services (mail, DNS, database, and so on). They can also display network traffic flow on the links between objects.
You can create a map manually, let InterMapper do it through auto-discovery, or use a combination of the two. With auto-discovery, InterMapper uses SNMP and ICMP (ping) probes to discover a network's devices and services and then prepares a map that diagrams the network. This is a time-saver, but if you need to monitor only specific devices and services on a network (or are limited by license), maps should be created manually.
The map uses icons of various shapes to represent devices and services, and the icons' pop-up windows contain additional information. Maps in InterMapper are apt to have more than one object for a single device, especially for servers used to monitor several services (mail, database, and so forth) on a particular host.
A significant new feature is the Map Status probe: on any map, you can have an icon that, through colour changes, shows the condition of another network. (Dartware calls these networks ?submaps'.) Using InterMapper Remote, you can open a submap for detailed status information.
InterMapper comes bundled with numerous TCP, UDP, and SNMP probes to test a variety of services, including 4D Server, POP, SMTP, HTTP, DNS, and DHCP. Dartware's probes are designed to simply test whether a service on a specific port is responding properly, but you can customize them to test response to a specific query on a particular TCP or UDP port.
InterMapper relies solely on SNMP and ICMP for monitoring the state of a network. As a result, it collects only limited information for devices, like software-based routers that don't support SNMP. Because there are no client agents to act on your behalf, there's no control (shut down, restart, or transfer files to and from) the hosts InterMapper monitors.
Given Dartware's shift in development, we're anxious to see all of InterMapper's features - especially strip charts that display statistics such as network traffic over time - ported to InterMapper Remote.
Scalability clearly differentiates InterMapper. Whether you're responsible for managing several networks or a large multi-site network for a single enterprise, InterMapper's submapping feature will give quick visual cues to network issues, wherever the problems may lie. Its reliance on SNMP and its agentless deployment model limit its management capabilities, but for monitoring mission-critical servers and network components, it's mature, scalable, and cost-effective.