Networking

Get IT Done: LanTrend makes it easier to monitor LAN and Internet traffic

Monitor network and Internet traffic to improve performance


Sunrise Telecom’s LanTrend, which Sunrise purchased from Intellimax, is a network analysis and troubleshooting tool designed to help you better manage IP traffic and improve network performance. LanTrend offers the following management features:
  • LAN and Internet traffic monitoring
  • Security alerts based on user-defined thresholds
  • Network statistics
  • Remote monitoring capability
  • Graphical interface

LanTrend displays network information, including performance statistics, in a graphical format, making it easy to quickly identify and troubleshoot problems.

Let's look at LanTrend’s key features to help you determine whether this tool can help you manage your network more effectively.

Network monitoring
LanTrend enables you to monitor traffic on your network in a variety of ways, and it lets you model the traffic information in a format that's easy to interpret.

LanTrend’s Traffic Matrix displays information about station-to-station conversations. You can sort the table to suit your needs. The table includes data on the number of packets transferred, the packet types, and the length of the conversations in minutes. Traffic Matrix also time stamps each activity, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A
Traffic Matrix table


The Matrix Chart displays network traffic as a graph that you can save in a number of formats, including text files with data only and bitmap files showing the graphical representation of the data. You can choose to view the data in a number of graphical formats, including pie chart, bar graph, and pyramid. The graphs are color-coded so that you can easily distinguish different types of traffic and the different hosts.

The Host Table displays statistics on each host on the network and can be toggled to display either IP or MAC addresses. You can also sort data in a variety of ways, such as by address, octets, packets and octets in and out, or by activity. The Host Table also identifies the packet types received and transmitted by each host (Figure B).

Figure B
Host Table


Like the Matrix Chart, the Host Chart displays information about network hosts in customizable graphical formats and saves the information to a file or allows you to print it out. You can change the graph format, alter colors, switch between 2-D and 3-D, and sort the data displayed in the charts.

Whether you’re putting together a presentation on network traffic or simply keeping records, the charts are good tools for graphically showing the types of activity taking place on your network. They can serve as useful snapshots of point-in-time traffic.

The Alarm Log alerts you to network issues, such as duplicate IP addresses, and includes a time stamp and severity designation, as well as a description of the problem (Figure C). Alarms pop up while LanTrend is running to alert you to problems, and you can save Alarm Logs as various types of files, including tab-separated value files, comma-separated files, or as JPEGs or bitmaps.

Figure C
Alarm Log alert


Statistics
In addition to the various tools for capturing, viewing, and graphically representing network traffic, LanTrend also offers statistics on different aspects of your network and network traffic, including protocol octet distribution, packet size distribution, MAC layer octet distribution, and TCP/UDP octet distribution, as shown in Figure D. Again, you can view this data in a number of ways, customize the appearance and style of the charts, and save the output to different file types.

Figure D
Octet distribution statistics


Other statistics and information
At the bottom of the main screen, LanTrend displays a series of tabs you can click on to view various traffic statistics, including number of packets transmitted by type.

The Ethernet tab displays information about the number of collisions and errors that have occurred and the number of transmissions without errors, as shown in Figure E.

Figure E
Ethernet tab statistics


The Packets tab reports the number of packets transmitted, breaks down the numbers according to type and protocol, and reports what percentage of the total each represents. For example, in my test setup, LanTrend reports that 54 percent of transmissions have been Broadcast, while 27 percent have been Unicast and 19 percent Multicast. Ethernet II represents 93 percent of the transmissions, while LLC and SNAP make up the remaining 7 percent.

The Packet Size tab shows packet sizes broken down as percentages of the total traffic. In my tests, for example, LanTrend shows that over 60 percent of the packets transmitted on the test network have been at the 64-byte Ethernet II minimum. Only 4 percent of the packets transmitted have been in the 1024-1518-byte range.

The Protocols tab shows a breakdown of packets transmitted as a percentage of the protocol used. Over 90 percent of the traffic on the test network fell under IP.

LanTrend shows a beginning time stamp for all of the data displayed, based on when the program was launched and started gathering data. Thus, all information is marked as having been gathered since a particular time. This gives you a good idea what kind of traffic has traversed the network over a given time span and can serve as a useful metric for determining when peak traffic times occur.

Another handy feature in LanTrend is the Address Book, which stores a list of all hosts and displays their corresponding MAC addresses, IPs, and host names. You can also print the contents of the Address Book if needed.

Final analysis
LanTrend offers many useful features to help you gather detailed information about activity on your network. Being able to display the data in a graphical format is a big plus because it allows you to quickly and easily spot trends. LanTrend also lets you save the data in a variety of formats and print it. The output options make it easy to compile presentations or reports on network traffic. LanTrend sports an intuitive interface, so navigating the various tables of data is simple, and it doesn’t take long to find what you need.

While other robust network-management products include the traffic-monitoring functionality of LanTrend, they do it at a high price. LanTrend costs $350 per license, which is fairly reasonable. However, Sunrise Telecom does not offer a CD version of LanTrend; it's available only via download, which may be an annoyance to some.

Overall, if you’re looking for a tool designed to monitor network traffic, LanTrend may be just what you need. For additional information, check out this PDF data sheet and download the 10-day trial version of the program.

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