Wilson & Horton solves mystery outages

Network monitoring equipment has solved the mystery of why Wilson & Horton's network was falling over every week.

Network monitoring equipment has solved the mystery of why Wilson & Horton’s network was falling over every week.

The Auckland-based publisher, which runs 2500 Windows PCs and 150 Windows servers, was plagued by its network inexplicably crashing every seven days.

It installed Network Associates’ Sniffer Portable LAN and WAN tools, which located an unknown IP address on a Windows server. Sniffer identified the server and an unknown second network interface card. By disabling the card, the IT team rectified the problem and stopped the systems failure.

Wilson & Horton network engineer Rod Christie says without Sniffer the IT department would probably have never found the second card. “Resolving that problem pretty much immediately justified our investment.”

The company found it was also able to avert a denial of service attack. Sniffer’s port scan found that bandwidth on the network was being absorbed at a rapid rate and causing a serious loss of performance on an NT server. Using the monitoring and reporting tools, W&H was able to locate the server responsible and shut it down to prevent it from further jeopardising the corporate network.

The new tools not only help W&H keep its network in check, but also its ISPs. By monitoring its links it found it was being billed for bandwidth that it hadn’t used. After sending the ISP a trace file of the fault the bill was dramatically reduced. The tools also keep tabs on the settings of all networking equipment so that if any equipment malfunctions IT staff can provide trace files to the supplier.

The company has spent about $100,000 over three years on a range of Sniffer products.

Wilson & Horton, which publishes nine daily newspapers, 32 free community papers, and the NZ Woman’s Weekly and New Zealand Listener, runs an extensive network infrastructure comprising three ATM links, gigabit ethernet, 40 frame relay WAN sites, 100 ADSL connections, two ISPs on 100Mbit/s connections and VPN connections to Australia.

Sniffer Portable LAN builds a database of network objects from observed traffic to detect network anomalies. Sniffer Portable WAN helps to optimise WAN bandwidth utilisation by performing real-time monitoring of bridge/router-based leased lines, frame relay implementations and X.25 internetworks. It also troubleshoots legacy systems with SNA, X.25 and other terminal-to-host traffic analysis capabilities.

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