Product Reviews

Simplicity Has Its Advantages

What VisualPulse 3.0 lacks in sexiness, it makes up for in features.

Sometimes simplicity has its advantages. Take VisualPulse 3.0 from Visualware, which definitely isn’t the sexiest-looking product when running. In fact, it looked downright clinical in its reporting and really shouldn’t be seen outside the computer room. But what it lacks in sexiness, it almost entirely makes up for in features.

Installing VisualPulse 3.0 is straightforward. You need to have the proper Java Virtual Machine on the computer running VisualPulse. The documentation on how to verify the Java VM is quite good, going as far as to instruct you on where to locate the correct or updated VM. Running the supplied EXE file performs the install without a hitch.

Next, configure VisualPulse to monitor your resources, send e-mail notifications (all products support this feature) and so on. Invoke VisualPulse from the program group created for it, and you’re prompted to pick a TCP port number for the Web-based interface. Default port 80 won’t work if you have IIS installed, so you’ll have to choose another. To secure monitoring, you can set a range of IP addresses to allow access to the Web-based interface. You configure VisualPulse by updating a text file with your own text entries; the GUI configuration screen updates a text file with the configuration information.

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Testing the configuration invokes the Web-based interface but, because the address used is 127.0.0.1 (localhost), it fails to display the Web page. Visualware may want to change VisualPulse’s test and invocation to use the actual IP address of the computer, which works correctly.

VisualPulse supports monitoring of IP-based networks. For this reason, it’s most useful to organizations that need to monitor IP address/TCP port combinations. For each port monitored, you can also configure e-mail notification for warnings and errors, for which you can set the thresholds. If a problem occurs, traceroute capabilities help determine where the problem exists.

VisualPulse 3.0
While Visualware’s VisualPulse 3.0 doesn’t boast the sexiest graphics, it’s a solid monitoring solution for IP-based networks. (Click image to view larger version.)

The one thing I don’t like about VisualPulse is the apparent inability to install it as a service. In order to start the product, I had to log in, manually invoke VisualPulse and then click Start in the Server Console to get it going. On Unix systems, this may not be a problem, as you can start the process to run in the background as a daemon; but on Windows, it should really be a service.

VisualPulse 3.0, from $200 for a single-server install with 10 elements to $1,500 for 250 elements; Visualware, (703) 802-9006, www.visualware.com.

About the Author

Damir Bersinic, MCSE, MCDBA, MCSA, MCT, is an independent consultant, trainer and author.

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