NetCrunch 10.9: Enterprise-grade monitoring

NetCrunch is an easy-to-use and configure enterprise-grade monitoring solution. Recently, AdRem Software released NetCrunch 10.9 with noteworthy new monitoring features. In this review of the new features, we look at the Monitoring Packs and Sensors that monitor devices in your environment.

Monitoring is a critical part of your overall IT operations, as it helps IT admins take the pulse of what is going on in their networks, infrastructure, virtual environments, and other types of devices. Having an effective monitoring solution is key to monitoring and checking key performance indicators (KPIs) in the environment.

NetCrunch is a unique monitoring platform that provides a large list of features and functionality. It is extremely intuitive, and by way of its Monitoring Packs and Policies, you can get up and running with effective monitoring very quickly. Recently, AdRem Software released NetCrunch 10.9, which has many new features. In this overview of NetCrunch 10.9, we will take a closer look at what is new with this release.

NetCrunch monitoring ^

NetCrunch uses performance metrics and events as the basis of the monitoring platform. It also makes use of a feature unique to NetCrunch, its Monitoring Packs and Policies. I really like how the monitoring works in NetCrunch as it is super easy and doesn't require a lot of time upfront like other monitoring solutions due to the built-in Monitoring Packs. A Monitoring Pack is like a template of settings and predefined monitors for a specific machine type, such as Windows.

Once you add a specific type of device, NetCrunch performs the heavy lifting and applies the appropriate Monitoring Pack to get you up and running with the recommended monitors for a particular machine. These automatic rules allow monitoring hundreds of nodes in just a couple of minutes.

The NetCrunch 10.9 top charts overview easily allows addressing hot spots in the environment

The NetCrunch 10.9 top charts overview easily allows addressing hot spots in the environment

The NetCrunch monitoring platform covers the full gamut of core monitoring capabilities, including but not limited to monitoring:

  • Network nodes
  • Network services
  • Network traffic
  • Data files
  • Printers
  • Cisco IP SLA operations
  • Essential sensors
  • Business status node
  • IPMI
  • Dell EMC
  • Text parsing expressions
  • Data parsers
  • ICMP Jitter
  • Traceroute sensor and others

NetCrunch also does a great job at squelching false positives. It uses monitoring dependencies to silence secondary alerts. In addition, NetCrunch has built-in alert correlation that automatically clears alerts as the event causing the alert disappears.

What new features have been added in the newly released NetCrunch 10.9 version?

NetCrunch 10.9 upgrade and new features ^

First of all, upgrading your existing NetCrunch installation is a simple process. Download the latest core Server from AdRem Software and run the installer. It will recognize you already have NetCrunch installed and will upgrade your existing installation.

Running through the wizard to upgrade the NetCrunch installation

Running through the wizard to upgrade the NetCrunch installation

AdRem Software offers some really great capabilities in the 10.9 release with regard to its Monitoring Packs. As mentioned earlier, Monitoring Packs are sets of predefined rules and monitors for a specific type of technology, hardware, or operating system. The Monitoring Packs are often vendor- or technology-specific.

With this release, NetCrunch introduces 11 new Monitoring Packs to the NetCrunch solution. As you can imagine, as the number of Monitoring Packs increases with NetCrunch, the overall capabilities of the system are expanded to include the new devices and technologies supported by the additional Monitoring Packs.

The 11 new Monitoring Packs released with NetCrunch 10.9 include the following:

  • RDP Services
  • Check Point VPN
  • FortiGate VPN
  • Nutanix Hypervisor
  • Nutanix Storage
  • Nutanix VM
  • Pulse Secure Hardware
  • Pulse Secure Network Interfaces
  • Pulse Secure System Health
  • Pulse Secure Users
  • SMSEagle

Other notables:

  • New integration with Service Desk Plus on-prem installations
  • New Network Service monitor for RDP services
  • New Windows Registry Sensor
  • New Windows Task Scheduler Sensor and System View for scheduled tasks

As you can see, there are many new Monitoring Packs and services introduced in this release. I noted a few standouts. There are obviously some great new remote work sensors, which will certainly be of value to many organizations now with the shift to a largely remote workforce.

The RDP services and VPN Monitoring Packs (Check Point, FortiGate) will allow businesses to do the following:

  • RDP services: Monitor Windows services related to RDP functionality and show the number of sessions on a given machine.
  • VPN Monitornig Packs: The new Check Point and FortiGate sensors allow monitoring VPN traffic, sessions, and decryption errors for remote users connected through these VPN technologies.

The new Windows Scheduled Tasks features are quite interesting as well. With the new Windows Task Scheduler Sensor, you get monitoring of:

  • Status of Windows Task Scheduler
  • Alerts based on configuration changes for scheduled tasks
  • Alerts based on tasks that have not run on time

A new system view has been added as well for Windows Scheduled Tasks that shows the list of tasks, statuses, triggers, and other KPIs for tasks and the Windows Task Scheduler. The system view provides a great high-level view of the health of your scheduled tasks and any errors that may have happened in previous runs.

This is a much easier way to see the history of scheduled tasks than using the native Windows Task Scheduler History tab, which is slow and cumbersome to navigate.

Windows Scheduled Tasks system view in NetCrunch 10.9

Windows Scheduled Tasks system view in NetCrunch 10.9

In addition to the high-level look at Windows Task Scheduler, NetCrunch 10.9 now includes the Windows Task Scheduler Sensor. This allows you to add a sensor to servers for which you want to monitor scheduled tasks. If you have a business-critical scheduled task running on a Windows Server, most likely you want to have visibility to any errors, delayed runs, or changes to the configuration.

With NetCrunch 10.9, you can easily add the new Windows Task Scheduler Sensor to Windows Servers. It enables quick, intuitive setup and monitoring. The default alerts include authentication errors, connection errors, or launch failures.

Adding a Windows Task Scheduler Sensor to a Windows Server in NetCrunch 10.9

Adding a Windows Task Scheduler Sensor to a Windows Server in NetCrunch 10.9

You can also add additional checks to the Windows Task Scheduler Sensor, such as alerting if the task is disabled or enabled, or the task's last run time.

Additional scheduled task alerts with NetCrunch 10.9

Additional scheduled task alerts with NetCrunch 10.9

In addition to the new Monitoring Packs and Sensors, NetCrunch has added support for the Nutanix platform, which means you can now monitor your Nutanix hypervisor hosts, storage, and virtual machines. This will certainly be a great addition to those customers who have Nutanix in their environments.

Overview and final thoughts ^

NetCrunch is a great monitoring platform in my opinion and offers really good features and functionality in an easy-to-provision and manage monitoring platform. Also, their licensing is extremely easy since it is license per node and not per sensor, like other vendors. This makes it much easier to understand what you need to license based on the number of nodes you want to monitor in your environment.

The new features of NetCrunch 10.9 contain really nice features to help organizations with monitoring remote work environments and connectivity via RDP and VPN connections. Also, the Windows Task Scheduler Sensor and system view adds nice visibility to scheduled tasks so you can monitor business-critical tasks in your environment.

You can download a fully-featured 30-day trial version of NetCrunch to try out in your own environment here.

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