GNS3 (Graphical Network Simulator) and SolarWinds NPM (Network Performance Monitor)

GNS3 + SolarWinds NPM = Awesome GNS3 SolarWinds NPM

The main use of the Graphical Network Simulator is for testing potential new network configurations, but in the safety of a virtual world.  Only when everything works as planned do you roll it out for real.

The combination of open-source GNS3 and SolarWinds NPM is designed to help application specialists learn how to manage complex networks.  It also helps network engineers see the benefits of SolarWinds NPM.

GNS3 Supports Virtual PC  

Thanks to a 2015 upgrade, GNS3 allows the support of virtual servers, so now it's easy to create trial networks then experiment with how router, switches and applications interact.  As a result the Graphics Network Simulator will help network administrators and engineers understand the variables in managing complex network with NPM.

GNS3 SolarWinds NPM Guide

Get Started by Downloading

  • GNS3
  • PuTTY
  • VirtualBox
  • NPM
  • A copy of Windows Server
  • "Images" of the network device operating system, for example Cisco┬« 

GNS3 SolarWinds NPM

The Power of SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor (NPM)

SolarWinds engineers designed NPM to detect network outages caused by broken links and faulty equipment.  Thanks to NPM, you get an answer to any problem concerning the performance of your network devices.  Awesome is an overused word, but it describes the power that that SolarWinds agents and pollers give to this network performance monitor.

Locate Network Devices

Once installed, NPM will poll your environment for all network devices and computer hardware supplied by leading vendors.  Using the SysOIDs NPM builds a table of metrics corresponding to your virtual infrastructure, including vCenters, datacenters, clusters, ESX hosts, virtual machines, and Hyper-V machines.  SolarWinds dashboard then displays:

  • Bandwidth utilization
  • Packet loss and errors
  • Latency and discards
  • CPU, and memory
  • And much more…

Features of NPM

Wireless Heat Maps
All you need is the office floor plan, NPM then triangulates the wireless points and displays the strength of each signal. The benefit of knowing where signal strength is low, is that you can reposition the wireless points to improve network coverage.

Built-in Capacity Planning
SolarWinds Network Performance Monitors are great at measuring resources such as storage capacity, memory usage and network bandwidth. Its algorithms analyze the infrastructure's rate of change, together with the pattern of change; as a result you see in the dashboard predictions of dates when resources will reach capacity. Actually, you get two predictions, one based on average usage, and another on peak usage.

Duplex Mismatch Detection
Sometimes Auto-detection of whether a device is using full or half-duplex fails.  Resulting mismatches are a notorious source of unnecessary increases in network latency. The good news is that NPM employs its topology maps to detect both definite and possible duplex mismatches.

Automatic Dependency Mapping
Using the existing CDP & LLDP information, NPM 11.5 automatically builds parent-child relationships so that downstream events are suppressed when upstream devices are down.

SolarWinds Web-based AlertsSolarwinds NPM 11.5 Alerts

An important part of NPM is alerting.  Your strategy is either to activate one of the pre-configured alerts, or to 'Add a New Alert'.  Creating your own alert in the Web-based interface is fun, alerting now offers new features such as separating the "scope" of an alert from its "trigger".

 SolarWinds technicians have redesigned the alerting engine.  The improvements go way deeper than just a new web-based interface.  For example, they have given thought to reducing unnecessary alerts by allowing us to configure the scope of an alert, thus rather than selecting all servers, you could alert only on Linux servers on a particular subnet.  

The web alerts also provide the opportunity to configure alerts so that only the member of staff on duty is emailed or paged at any particular time.

Learn more about SolarWinds NPM

 Summary of GNS

If you are reluctant (rightly) to test a configuration on your live network, then use GNS with SolarWinds Network Performance monitor to experiment in a safe environment.

GNS Guide from SolarWinds

Full Reviews of the SolarWinds Licensed Family of Applications

Here are Guy’s comprehensive evaluations, comments and recommendations for SolarWinds licensed products.  Each application offers a 30 day trial of a fully functional program, so check out the download links provided.

Review of SolarWinds NPM   • SolarWinds SAM Review (Apps)   • AppInsight for Exchange

SolarWinds NCM (Configuration)   • Web Performance Monitor  • Performance Monitor

User Device Tracker    • Application Monitor  • Orion SLA Monitor  • SolarWinds IPAM 4   • Home