Open Source Network Monitoring

Schools all across the country are searching for cost-effective solutions to reduce the overhead of monitoring and managing their computer networks. Indeed, budget cuts force schools to solve problems with open source solutions — such as Cacti, an open source solution that we currently use to monitor our district's network. It is a wonderful open source solution for network and systems administrators of large and small school districts that don't have a large budget.

Example of disk utilization on Windows 2003 Server.

Cacti uses the Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) to collect data from various devices across the network. The data is displayed graphically in Cacti’s simple and easy to use Web-based interface. Users may display graphs in daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly views, allowing them to see both current information and long term trends. Cacti’s interface also lets you quickly view a list of all devices to determine if any of the devices are offline.

Cacti is compatible with a wide variety of devices that support SNMP, such as switches, access points, printers, and workstations. For example, Cacti can be used to graph free disk space on any Windows server or graph interface traffic to Cisco switches. With a little customization, Cacti can be used to graph other devices such as page count and toner usage on certain models of printers.

Example of associations on a Cisco access point.

Getting Cacti installed requires some basic system requirements and time (which varies depending on knowledge and experience) to install and configure. However, the benefits of implementing such a solution makes it a project worth tackling.

Email:Todd Bryant