In-Depth

Editor's Choice: DNS Name Resolution

<b>Winner: </b>Visualware VisualRoute 6.1a<br> <br> <b>Honorable Mention:</b> <a href="#nessoft">Nessoft Ping Plotter</a>

VisualRoute 6.1a $39.95 (Personal Edition)  Visualware; 299-668-3673; www.visualware.com

When I first caught a glimpse of VisualRoute 6 from Visualware I had to scrape the scripts and show off this little jewel of an application to anyone who came within 10 feet of my workstation. Now, whether the onlookers are tech-know or techno-phobe, when I explain that I can pinpoint the physical location of any IP address or Web site on the colorful global map included in VisualRoute, I usually get a frenzy of suggested sites to check and spend the next several minutes showing them where in the world their favorite Web site really is.

Once I got over the excitement of having a cool, new toy, I realized I had a well-developed tool for serious network troubleshooting on my hands. Once I was called on to do some network-traffic analysis of our network and, in particular, discover any bottlenecks between the network and that of another business several thousand miles away. I plugged in the known IP address of the other business, watched VisualRoute iterate through several traces and, ultimately, show me not only how many routers I had to go through to get to the other network but also which router was lagging and how much data I was losing to dropped packets.

Visualware VisualRoute 6.1a
Visualware VisualRoute’s colorful map pinpoints the physical location of IP addresses, as well as Web sites. (Click image to view larger version.)

After running traces, I was able to export or “snap” the output to an HTML report, which included the statistics, as well as the map and trace lines that represented the hops through various routers and servers.

VisualRoute is one of several tools by Visualware that can assist in providing important information such as intruder detection and network performance statistics. I still use command-line tools when I’m at a system without VisualRoute installed, but it’s painful to go back and remember cryptic options and dump output to boring old text files. Luckily, Visualware has a VisualRoute Server component that allows traces to be done in a browser using the local IP address and through any firewall that allows HTTP traffic through. I may never ping again.

Honorable Mention
Ping Plotter
$15 per computer
Nessoft
www.pingplotter.com

Though my runner-up application, Ping Plotter by Nessoft, doesn’t display graphical maps for its traces or give the names of cities where the hops are located, it’s ideal for automated testing and does produce full-color output easily discernable for finding trouble spots in a network path. Graphing over time at specified intervals and the ability to auto-save traces are just two of many built-in features that make Ping Plotter worthy of an administrator’s toolkit and not simply another utility to grab a quick hop count and little else.

About the Author

Rodney Landrum is an MCSE working as a data analyst and systems engineer for a software development company in Pensacola, Florida.  He has a new book from Apress entitled ProSQL Server Reporting Services.

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