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>  Storage Methods Side-by-Side
>  Setting Up Cyberinsurance
>  Reader Question
Storage Methods Side-by-Side

Storage may not strike you as a thrilling topic, but it can be an expensive one to ignore. This tool lets you compare the costs of direct-access storage, network-attached storage, and storage-area networks. Click here for the tool. Setting Up Cyberinsurance

Concerned about liabilities incurred while conducting business online? This tutorial shows how a company might undertake a formal assessment of its network security—and consider hedging its bets with an e-risk insurance policy in the process. Click here for the tutorial.
Reader Question

As you read in the last issue, Frank Burough, Associate Director of Bioinformatics for Elixir Pharmaceuticals, wrote in with two questions about Linux tools. His second request is to find out more about system monitoring software.

Larry Karnis, the president of Application Enhancements Inc., a Linux-focused consultancy in the Toronto area, writes:

A number of excellent network monitoring tools are available, ranging from simple to fairly complex and feature-rich.

A great entry-level tool is MRTG (the Multi-Router Traffic Grapher). This tool uses SNMP to periodically poll network devices. It then records usage information and saves it to a local database. MRTG includes a simple Web interface that lets you view usage trends on each device. This tool does not offer alarms or higher-end management capabilities.

Two excellent tools for general network, server and service monitoring are Nagios and BigBrother. Nagios is entirely free; BigBrother is free for noncommercial use. (The professional version of BigBrother provides a smoother, simpler installation, telephone-alert support and other features that simplify installation and administration.)

BigBrother and Nagios offer many similar features, including:

  • monitoring of HTTP, HTTPS, FTP, SMTP, POP3, DNS, Telnet, IMAP, NNTP, and SSH protocols.
  • a Web-based interface to view and query device, service, and host status
  • the ability to monitor processor, disk, network, and memory use
  • several options for delivering service alerts, including e-mail, pager, and text-messaging
  • support for user-written plug-ins so that nonstandard items can be monitored
  • an active community of users to enhance and maintain the product
  • redundant, distributed monitors for added reliability
  • scheduled downtime (no false alerts)
  • simple, text-based configuration files

    Nagios' propaganda page states that Verizon uses its software to monitor its network while BigBrother claims Hewlett-Packard, Motorola, and IBM as customers.

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  • July 10, 2003

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